In July 1962, 22 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in the Dominican Republic to work in community development projects throughout the country. Since then, more than 4,000 Volunteers have served in agriculture, urban and rural development, environment, small business development, health and education. Currently, there are about 150 Volunteers serving in the Dominican Republic.
The Peace Corps opened its program in the Dominican Republic in 1962 and Volunteers have always been well-received by the Dominican people. Even during times of political tension, strong personal bonds have been maintained. It is notable that the Peace Corps remained in the Dominican Republic during the suspension of diplomatic relations in 1963 and the civil war of 1965. Volunteers have assisted in relief efforts following Hurricanes David, Frederick, and Georges. The Peace Corps was recognized with the country's highest medal in 1986 during the agency's 25th anniversary celebration.
Volunteers provide direct community-based technical assistance to the most marginalized sectors of the population t o promote self-help strategies that respond to basic human needs and strengthen community efforts. Volunteers strive to increase local capacity for problem solving and form linkages among and across grassroots, regional, and national organizations.
In November 2000, the government requested the Peace Corps' assistance in implementing information technology programs in the country. Volunteers provide technical assistance for a national school-based computer laboratory project. Information technology remains a special area of focus and is incorporated into existing project areas.
Peace Corps is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to incorporate special education methodologies into public schools, developing programs specific to youth, and coordinating efforts with Volunteers who serve along the border in Haiti. Due to the country's continued vulnerability to natural disasters, Peace Corps/Dominican Republic is committed to increasing the capacity of local communities to prepare for and mitigate the effects of natural disasters.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Dominican Republic
Since 1962, more than 4,200 Volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic. These Volunteers have contributed to technical skills transfer and institutional capacity-building in a wide range of fields, including agriculture, urban and rural community development, forestry, conservation, environmental education, community health and child survival, nursing, small business development, fisheries, water and sanitation, teacher education, university education, youth development, and information technology.
Over the years, Peace Corps Volunteers have contributed significantly to the establishment and development of many of the country’s leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and have worked hand-in-hand with the various administrations that have governed the Dominican Republic. In keeping with its commitment to peace and development, the Peace Corps remained in the Dominican Republic throughout its civil war in the 1960s. Our commitment to service has been highlighted through the good work of Volunteers and their project partners in the recovery efforts following two of the severest hurricanes (David in 1979 and George in 1998).
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
During pre-service training (PST), you will live with a Dominican host family near the Peace Corps training center on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. The families are selected by training staff. Houses typically have electricity and running water (when these systems are operating). Your host family will provide you with a private room, and you will eat your meals with the family.
You will also live with a host family during the first four to six months of your Volunteer service. These host families are identified by the community and/or the host country agency and are approved by Peace Corps staff prior to your arrival. Living with a Dominican family allows faster integration into the community, provides a safe environment while you are settling in, and gives you time to look for independent housing should you choose to do so. During service, you are expected to live in the same type of housing commonly found in your community. Housing varies widely, depending on whether you live in a city, a large or small town, or a campo (rural) village.
Volunteers typically live in houses with tin or thatch roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. Although some communities have electricity, a great many do not. Power outages are very common. The water supply is subject to the same inconsistencies. Many communities do not have water piped into houses. Rural families, for example, often have to walk to the nearest river or other water source for household water. Even if you live in a house with faucets, there is no guarantee that there will be water; it is common for water not to appear for days at a time. Volunteers placed in towns and more urbanised areas will also face some of these same challenges.
Main article: Training in Dominican Republic
You will participate in 11 weeks of intensive training in five major areas: technical job orientation, language (Spanish), cross-cultural adaptation, health, and safety training. You will live in a community near Santo Domingo with a Dominican family, sharing meals, conversations, and other everyday experiences. You will also visit secondary towns and rural areas to get accustomed to the realities of life in the Dominican Republic. Trainees are together for the first four weeks of training. For six weeks, you will live in a smaller town for community-based training by project sector. Following the community-based portion of your training, you will travel to your future project site for an orientation visit and then return to the capital for a training wrap-up and to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. If you are serving with a spouse and you and your spouse are assigned to different programs, you will live apart for the community-based training portion of the program. Married couples are allowed to get together for one weekend during community-based training if they are in different project areas.
Training helps you learn how to apply your strengths and knowledge to new situations, developing your skills as a facilitator in a variety of technical areas. It doesn’t make you an expert. At the onset of training, the training staff will outline the goals you must achieve to become a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess your progress. (A detailed breakdown of these criteria will be provided in-country.) Evaluation of your performance during training consists of a continual dialogue between you and the training staff.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Dominican Republic
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps’ medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic maintains a clinic with two full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in the Dominican Republic at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
In the Dominican Republic, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in the Dominican Republic.
Outside of the Dominican Republic’s capital and tourist centers, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes.
The people of the Dominican Republic are known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present. In particular, there are still subtle to overt forms of racial discrimination that are seen on a regular basis towards darker-skinned persons due to the historical tensions between Dominicans and Haitians.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Main article: Packing list for Dominican Republic
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in the Dominican Republic and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally, considering your work sector.. Please keep in mind two important factors that might affect your decision on what to buy and what to bring: 1) you have a baggage weight limit; and 2) You can get almost everything that you need in the Dominican Republic.
- General Clothing
- For Men
- For Women
- Items You Do Not Need to Bring
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Dominican Republic Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Dominican Republic. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Dominican Republic
- List of resources for Dominican Republic
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports