YAY – today we received our site placements! The anxiety I felt beforehand was similar to what a kid feels like on Christmas morning, except this ‘gift’ would designate the next two years of our lives. To make it more fun, Sasha and Michael had us write down 2 truths and 1 lie (for example: I’m left-handed, have never seen the Pacific Ocean, and still sleep with a teddy bear – can you guess the lie?). Then, when they described a site, they would read the 2 truths and a lie, and as a group we would have to match up the trainee with their site.
As soon as Michael described my future site, then read what I’d written, I was thrilled. I’ll be living in a community of about 4500 people called La Pescadería located in the province of Barahona. According to my site description, Pescadería is “surrounded by vast fields of sugarcane, bananas, and other crops; the Rio Yaque del Sur runs close-by and fishing is an important source of income for the inhabitants”.
The primary agencies I’ll be working with are Asociación La Cabrita and Fundación Central Barahona, Inc. Supported by the Fundación (the community development arm of the local sugar company), The Asociación La Cabrita was formed 2.5 years ago to manage a goat cheese and yogurt project. Potential project activities include: assist group write a business plan for the upcoming cheese and yogurt production; help group do a market study; marketing and promotional tools to reach niche markets; costing/pricing analysis of operation; basic business administration for the group; help with FUNDEPE loan management.
Sidebar: There are two main goals of the Community Economic Development sector of Peace Corps, and at least one of the objectives must be reflected in any future project.
- Increase job creation and employability via entrepreneurial education, expanded markets, value added practices and business skills development (Objectives: Entrepreneurship; Income Generation Activities; Business Development Skills)
- Organizations will strengthen their capacity to develop and implement sustainable projects, manage their resources, and collaborate with others to achieve their missions (Objectives: Project Design, Management, and Service Delivery; Governance)
All and all, I couldn’t be more excited. There’s even two girls from my group that will be each be living less than a half hour from my site. Tomorrow we meet our project partners (I have two, Ronny and Nibia) at the Pantoja Training Center for an orientation regarding cultural and work expectations. Then, after lunch we head of to our individual project sites! I’m all packed up, and am planning on bringing the majority of my belongings with me, especially because I’ll have the help of two other people to carry my bags 🙂 We’ll stay in our communities with our new host family until Sunday, then will return to the capital for last minute training, preparation, and processing. We will become official Peace Corps Volunteers at our Swearing-In Ceremony on Wednesday the 15th! Can’t even begin to fathom what I’m in for, and I’m looking forward to every step of the way!