Tuesday, April 22, 2008

so, um, what exactly are you going to be doing?

I realized that I´ve been blogging more about the day-to-day details of my life and less about the big Peace Corps picture. Of course, the details are important, but I know there are also some people who don´t really know what I´m here to do. (Warning: this post may require you to consult the PC acronym post.) So: I am here to work with Information Communication Technology in Education. ICT in Education has three PC-mandated goals: improve community access to computers, work with ICT teachers, and work with youth.

Meaning: I will be assigned to a computer lab in a town. I will work with the lab´s staff to teach my own classes, as well as to offer some training to the teachers there. (You may recall my earlier post about the current status of education in the DR; most teachers have been trained to teach only by the "rote memorization" method, so American interactive teaching methodologies--things like actually asking the students questions or having them apply any critical thining skills whatsoever--are pretty exciting.) I`m also supposed to work with youth; most volunteers start some sort of youth computer club. Also, I should help make sure the lab is running itself to be sustainable... help them advertise to the community, make sure they are charging enough to pay their bills but not so much that they are inaccessible to the community. Plus, computer maintainence tends to fall to PCVs.

Also, PCVs are encouraged to have a secondary project (or two) of their choosing. Youth groups are a popular option. PC has curricula for two youth groups, Brigada Verde (Green Brigade) and Escojo Mi Vida (I Choose my Life). Brigada Verde is an environmental group and Escojo is a sexual health (HIV prevention, STIs, making healthy choices, etc). PCVs also do things like teach English classes at community centers, help open libraries, or start community newsletters. I personally hope to start an Escojo group, and I want to start a Girl Scout troupe if I can, and I want to teach English classes, and maybe help start a library... well, let´s just say I`ll be keeping myself busy!

And, of course, the other goals of PC are to learn about Dominican culture and be an ambassador of American culture. (Basically, I will be playing Hannah Montana`s music for as many Dominican children as possible.) Also, I´m supposed to share Dominican culture with other Americans. Hence, the blog!

As for what I`ve been doing here in CBT: I´ve been having Spanish class three or four times a week. My class is awesome; it consists of Karina, Arianna, and myself, and it`s taught by Claribel, who is rad. Yesterday in class we spent like twenty minutes discussing the plot of the movie Ice Princess (Princesa de Hielo). We also like to chismear (gossip) about other PCTs. We also have technical sessions on things like Norton Ghost (spooky!) and hardware maintainence, leading youth groups, creating lesson plans, and forming effective committees. The third component of training is our practium, where we visit a computer lab in town and observe and teach classes. Last week we taught our first class on Microsoft Word, and tomorrow we´re teaching about how to create folders and delete files. It´s going to be a thrill a minute!

Outside of class, I mostly sit on other PCTs` porches and talk or else play Uno with my host family. It`s a pretty sweet lifestyle.

I`m definitely sad to be leaving El Seibo so soon, but I`m very excited (and pretty nervous!) to get my final project site. Word on the street is that of the 15 ICT sites, two are near the border, two are in the north on the coast, and the other 11 are relatively close together in the central region. Pretty much everyone (myself included) is hoping to be one of the 11 who are close together, although the outliers will still probably be close to volunteers from other groups. I`ll let yàll know when I know!

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