4 Months in the Dominican Republic

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Meet Lisette Rodriguez, a Los Angeles native who just wrapped up four months in the Dominican Republic as our amazing Good Neighbors International Volunteer. Now that she’s back in the states, she’s sharing her thoughts on going abroad and her top four memories:   

I arrived in the Dominican Republic four months ago as a volunteer in international development. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I wanted to learn and help as much as I could. In reflecting on my experience working with Good Neighbors Dominican Republic, there have been so many meaningful, educational, and life-changing experiences. Here are some of the highlights…

  1. Personajes Fantásticos de Chinguelo Workshop

Personajes Fantásticos de Chinguelo was a painting and photography workshop that was a collaborative endeavor between Good Neighbors Dominican Republic and Proyector de Sueños, a non-profit arts organization. Through this two-day workshop, kids in the community of Chinguelo had the opportunity to express their personal identity by creating fun masks from the natural materials in their environment. They even learned photography skills and had a photo shoot with their newly created masks. This was such a wonderful exercise in creativity and self-expression! I loved watching every minute of it unfold and the kids had a great time.

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DSCN8903The kids of Chinguelo learning photo skills, above, and exploring the forest together to find materials for their masks.

L1180312 One of the many amazing, original creations the kids came up with!

  1. Working with the California Institute for Social Business

It was such a pleasure to work with students from the California Institute for Social Business on developing a social business plan for Good Neighbors Dominican Republic. Our plan in the end recommended opening a café in the city of Santo Domingo. In addition to typical café menu items, the café would also feature a gift shop where products and items developed by community members would be available for purchase, as well as an art gallery. The funds generated from this social business would go toward facilitating workshops and training sessions for community members so they could learn about income generation opportunities for themselves and their families.

  1. Researching a New Community Development Project Site in Los Cacaos 

Good Neighbors Dominican Republic is in the process of researching a new community development project site in the community of Los Cacaos in the San Cristobal region of the Dominican Republic. This region is known for its cultivation of coffee, and as part of the initial research phase, we got to visit the Asociación de Caficultores La Esperanza (ASOCAES) to tour the coffee facility and learn about the incredible coffee-making process.

DSCN9842Operations Manager, Karla Sanchez (center), and myself receiving an overview of the coffee cultivation process from a representative of ASOCAES.

DSCN9861Proud to say the coffee produced is 100% organic.

DSCN9868GNDOM staff Marjorie Andujar, left, myself, and Karla Sanchez pulling our hair back and getting ready for our tour of the coffee packaging facility. 

DSCN9886An employee packages freshly ground coffee. It smelled wonderful!

  1. The Staff of Good Neighbors Dominican Republic

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of my time was having the opportunity to work with the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to making children’s lives better: the staff of Good Neighbors Dominican Republic! I will always remember the efforts, smiles, frustrations, and laughs that we shared. I am so happy to have worked with and learned from such a spectacular group of people.

Training_04Our staff together at a training workshop.

photo1We know how to have fun! Our staff at a day retreat toJuan Dolio Beach.

So, what’s next for me?

I’m back in the United States now, but I’ve definitely left a piece of my heart in the Dominican Republic. In August, I’ll begin another position for an international service learning program where I’ll be traveling to six different countries around the world over the course of a year. I’m very much looking forward to taking everything that I’ve learned at Good Neighbors and applying it to my life and work in the future.

We’re so grateful to have had a volunteer like Lisette! If you’re interested in volunteer abroad opportunities with Good Neighbors, please contact volunteer@goodneighbors.org. 

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