In which Sarah hangs out with doctors, has an awesome Thanksgiving, and more!
Hello again, friends! I wonder who is still with me after almost two years of sporadic blog posts! Yes, you heard, me, almost two years. It is hard to believe, but I only have five months left in this country! The time really has flown.
In the past month, I have actually been engaging in some pretty glamorous activities! I promise, outside of these things I do rough it in the campo, sharing my home with rats, living half the time in the dark, and sweating under my mosquito net!
Medical Mission – Sarah almost becomes a surgeon!
About a month ago, I was itching to get out of the campo for awhile, so I participated in a “Medical Mission,” where for a week I went to a nice city called Santiago and helped out a team of doctors, nurses, and med students from Nebraska who came down to perform free surgeries on poor Dominicans. It was great! I was terrified that I would faint in the operating room, but actually I was fine (well, most of the time I wasn’t looking, so I don’t know if it counts). I helped out as an interpreter – sometimes I was in the waiting room with the patients, and other times I was in the operating room, talking patients through the surgeries. I definitely felt a little out of my element at first, given that I have absolutely no medical background! But by the end of the week I had gotten the hang of it. I had learned what it means to be “scrubbed in” and what exactly an anesthesiologist is. I was rockin the lil scrubby-cap and scrubby-foot covers. I was almost a real surgeon! Time to think about a career change.
I also met a lot of really great and generous people. One night we went out to a really nice dinner at a restaurant that doubled as some sort of horse farm (really, it was more elegant than it sounds), and then at the end of the week, I got to accompany the whole team to the beach for a couple days!
Peace Corps Thanksgiving Bonanza!
So, in the PC-DR world, Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday of the year! Oh wait, it is the biggest holiday of the year in my world, too! On Thanksgiving, all of the PCDR volunteers from around the country get together in Santo Domingo for a huge, action-packed celebration.
Here are the day’s activities that I participated in:
- 6am: Turkey Trot 5k run. My goal was to not stop running. Envisioning turkey and stuffing the whole way, I FINISHED (and I did not finish last, I tell you!)
- 8am: Sports Tournament – I played ultimate Frisbee with some overly competitive Peace Corps guys who never passed to me. Then I got pushed by someone on my own team.
- 10am: I hung out with volunteers at the ROOFTOP POOL of a hotel!
- 2pm: Dinner with all of the fixin’s. Actually I was a little disappointed with my performance at dinner this year. I was so hungry (I hadn’t really eaten that morning, and the Turkey Trot and the Sports Tournament had just taken it out of me) that I mindlessly shoveled down my huge plate of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, salad, etc and then ate a huge second serving of stuffing and cranberries. I was a little too ravenous about the whole thing, and before I knew it I was so full that my stomach was hurting and I almost had to lie down on the floor. I realized that to my horror, I had snarfed down my meal without really appreciating it! That’s the whole point of Thanksgiving – being APPRECIATIVE, and I had just been greedily eating like some sort of orc! Also, I had hoarded more than my share of the (albeit small) bowl of cranberry sauce and a friend of mine didn’t really get any….how awful is that?!? Alas, I will have to remember to eat some hoers d’ouvres (SP) before T-Day Dinner next year to make sure I am good and prepped for the onslaught of food. OH, and then they served up four kinds of pie RIGHT after the dinner ended, with no stretch-break or anything, so I was still in pain but of course had to push through it to eat 3 out of 4 kinds of pie with copious amounts of whip cream. Anyway, I had a poor thanksgiving dinner performance.
- 4pm: PCDR Annual Talent Show! I performed a rendition of a popular song with three other volunteers. It is actually a duet between Romeo Santos (the former lead singer of the Dominican bachata band Aventura) and the one and only USHER! Anyway, here is a link to a video of us practicing…definitely not professional quality but hey, gotta start somewhere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYVxjxreaXY&feature=share
- …And after the talent show there was a fun dance party! And then, miraculously, I was hungry again, so a group of us went to the Colonial Zone and I ate three tacos.
So, that was Peace Corps Thanksgiving 2012. I have to say, it was a vast improvement on last year. At last year’s event I was a little teary-eyed, because there was no cranberry sauce (my favorite part), and then that reminded me of the Chaplin Family Thanksgiving where there is ALWAYS cranberry sauce! Anyway.
I’vealized that I talk very little about anything “work-related” on this blog. Well, on that front, since I am on my way out of this country, I am planning a 3-part series of “Legal Promoter Trainings,” to train community leaders in communities around Banica/Pedro Santana to serve as legal advocates and help declare children in their communities. Here on the border, especially in the isolated campos, many children grow up without receiving a birth certificate or any form of documentation. As some of you know, I’ve dedicated my work here to helping families get documentation (birth certificates, passports, etc) –but have realized that this work won’t be sustainable if we aren’t training local leaders to do this same work. Hence, I am in the planning stages of this endeavor right now!
Chicas Brillantes Group Update – Some Untrustworthy Falls
Well, folks, a couple weeks ago I decided that in my Chicas Brillantes (preteen girls’ self esteem/empowerment/leadership group) we needed to have some fun bonding activities. So, we started off with some good ol’ TrustFalls. I gathered the 15 girls all around and talked about trust, how we need to trust each other, yadda yadda yadda, and explained how we were going to put a blindfold over each girl’s eyes, and they were going to fall backwards, stiff as a board, and then be caught by their fellow groupmates, friends, trustworthy comrades, confidants…the girls were elated. So, we began. And then this Circle of Trust fell to pieces – I don’t know what happened but the girls were fighting, running around, laughing maniacally…I tried to calm them down, and then when I thought they were calm, I tied the blindfold around one girl’s eyes, and then she fell back…AND FELL RIGHT ON THE GROUND. No one caught her….I think this is the first time in the history of TrustFalls that one girl has actually FALLEN. Anyway, so I stopped the activity and gave them a good scolding.
This week, everyone was much better behaved. One teenager from Banica was recently seriously injured while driving his motorcycle while drunk (a very common and accepted occurrence here). I decided that this was a great time to give the girls a little talk about the Dangers of Alcohol. I talked about what alcohol does to your brain, ways to say NO to alcohol at a party, fetal alcohol syndrome, the whole gamut, and then I had the girls do a little skit to demonstrate what they had learned. The girls proceeded to reenact a skit in which they all did very good impersonations of drunk people…they were quite amused. Anyway, I hope that they got the point!!
Also, this weekend I am taking three girls from my Chicas Brillantes group to a leadership conference. Of course, now there is much drama in the group because other girls feel hurt that they didn’t get selected. The claws are coming out! But, for the three lucky girls that DID get selected, I think it will be a great experience – for one of them, it is her first time ever leaving home!
Other news from the trenches
In other news, I am currently applying for law schools, and should probably start hearing back in January! I am hoping to stay in the Seattle area, but we shall see, we shall see…
ALSO, in a couple weeks I am headed home for Christmas! I am beside myself with excitement.
Happy belated Thanksgiving and early Christmas, everyone! I am so thankful for all of your love and support. Dios les bendiga!