Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in China" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Dominican Republic"

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{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
 
{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
==Communications==
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===Communications===
===Mail===
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Mail takes a minimum of 10 days to arrive in China from the
+
United States. Some mail may not arrive (fortunately, this is rare)
+
or may arrive after having been opened. Advise your family and
+
friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” on their
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envelopes.
+
  
Your address for the first two months (i.e., during pre-service
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====Mail====
training) will be:
+
  
“Your Name”
+
Mail delivery between the United States and the Dominican Republic is generally dependable but can be unreliable.  Letters and packages sent by airmail take from 10 days to two weeks to arrive. Surface mail can take months.
  
U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers
+
Your address for regular mail service in the Dominican
  
Sichuan University – Mail Box 278
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Republic while you are a Peace Corps trainee (PCT) will be:
  
No. 29 Wang Jiang Road
+
“Your Name,” PCT
  
Chengdu, Sichuan 610064
+
Cuerpo de Paz
  
China (PRC)
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Av Bolivar 451, Gazcue
  
You should limit the number of packages sent to the above
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Apartado Postal 1412
address during pre-service training. Do not have packages sent
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that will be difficult for you to move to your site or expensive for
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you to mail within China. Wait until you know what your
+
permanent site address will be and then have your packages sent
+
directly there. Trainees will be responsible for picking up their
+
own packages at the PC office. Packages received during training
+
will not be forwarded to your permanent site.
+
  
===Telephones===
+
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Communicating by telephone in China is relatively easy and
+
inexpensive. Each Volunteer must have a telephone, either a landline
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in his/her apartment or a cell phone, and the basic cost for a
+
phone line is included in the monthly living allowance. Longdistance
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telephone service is generally good, with connections
+
available to most parts of the world without major delays. If you
+
are calling from outside a major city, it may take longer for access to an open line. Overseas operators speak and understand basic
+
English and should have little difficulty placing a call. AT&T,
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MCI, and Sprint direct-dial operators can be reached from
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Chengdu and from many other sites by dialing a local number.
+
Domestic direct-dial long-distance calls are also very easy. Calls
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to China can be placed inexpensively using calling cards, often for
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about 2 cents a minute. Most Volunteers also use local cards that
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are widely available and cost about 10 cents a minute. Many
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Volunteers use Skype or other VOIP options to make and receive
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calls from inside and outside China.
+
  
===Computer, Internet, and Email Access===
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Please Note: Do not send money, airline tickets, or other valuable items through the mail.  
All Peace Corps/China Volunteers will have access to email and
+
the Internet, although connections can be weak or sporadic.
+
Although some Volunteers will have access from home, others use
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department offices or Internet cafes near their school's campus. It
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is the responsibility of the Volunteer to set up and pay for any
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Internet service. Funds are provided in the living allowance for
+
limited Internet usage. If you decide to bring a computer or any
+
other expensive electronic equipment, we strongly recommend
+
you purchase personal property insurance.
+
  
==Housing and Site Location ==
+
Should you need to have a package sent to the Dominican Republic, we recommend that the contents be limited to items that fit into padded envelopes. These are less likely to be lost, opened, or taxed than are other types of packages.
  
Volunteer sites in China are located from within Chengdu, where
+
Packages may also be shipped via a parcel delivery service.  Federal Express and DHL have offices in Santo Domingo. If you want them to deliver a package to the Peace Corps office, you will have to provide the office street address (instead of the post office box address listed above) and phone number:
the Peace Corps office is located, to up to 1,200 kilometers (744
+
miles) away. Many Volunteers live on the campus of the
+
college/university to which they are assigned and the school
+
provides housing. All sites have hot water heaters for showering.
+
However, in the winter, there is an occasional water shortage
+
when water may not be available for hours at a time. Electricity is
+
fairly constant, but power failures do occur, especially in winter.
+
Volunteers live in local faculty housing or in apartments. These
+
residences have a living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and
+
sometimes a study.
+
  
==Living and Leave Allowances and Money Management==
+
Your address for expedited mail service in the Dominican Republic while you are a Peace Corps trainee or Volunteer will be:
  
All Volunteers will receive a living allowance that is designed to
+
“Your Name,” PCT
allow them to live modestly by the standards of the people they
+
serve, yet not in a manner that would endanger their health or
+
safety. The current monthly living allowance is 1,410 Yuan
+
(equivalent to about $220). The allowance is intended to cover the
+
purchase of food, replacement clothing, local entertainment and
+
travel, phone line connection, and other incidental expenses.
+
  
You also receive the equivalent of $24 per month for leave
+
Cuerpo de Paz
allowance, which is paid on the same schedule as the living
+
allowance. You will be separately reimbursed for official travel
+
(Peace Corps conferences, medical checkups, etc.). As a Peace
+
Corps Volunteer, you are not allowed to accept any other paying
+
positions during your term, nor can you accept bonus payments or
+
expensive gifts from schools or other amounts from individuals or
+
institutions. Any secondary projects, such as tutoring or giving
+
lectures, must be done without compensation.
+
  
If you need to receive money from the U.S. while in China, a debit
+
451 Avenida Bolivar
card tied to a U.S. account is the easiest way. Amounts can be
+
deposited into the account in the U.S. and you can then withdraw
+
the funds directly in local currency at your site. Credit cards are
+
rarely accepted in most parts of China, but can be of use for travel
+
while on leave.
+
  
==Food and Diet==
+
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  
Chinese food varies greatly from the Cantonese-style food that is
+
Telephone: 809.685.4102
typically found in major cities in the United States. Sichuan,
+
Chongqing, and Guizhou dishes are much spicier and may take
+
some getting used to, though mild dishes are also available. Gansu
+
dishes are milder.
+
  
The staple in Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guizhou is rice. Pork is
+
Please Note: Federal Express and DHL will not deliver items larger than an envelope to the Peace Corps office, so you may have to pay significant customs duties to retrieve larger items from customs, and picking up the items may mean an entire day’s travel to the capital. In addition, packages sometimes disappear in transit.  
also served at almost every meal. Although vegetables abound,
+
eating in restaurants can be difficult for vegetarians because meat
+
is often mixed in with dishes featuring tofu or vegetables. The
+
staple in Gansu is noodles, and beef and mutton are the major
+
meats. Sichuan and Chongqing dishes also tend to be oily.
+
  
Cooking your own food is cheaper and healthier than eating in
+
Additionally, there is a tax levied on every package received by a trainee or Volunteer. Peace Corps does not cover these costs. All packages received in-country are charged RD$100 (currently USD$3.07) for retrieval and then an additional RD$100 per pound. So, for example, a 10-pound package would cost the Volunteer RD$1,100 (USD$34.00), which is a significant amount considering Volunteer living allowance.  
restaurants. Every Volunteer in China has access to a kitchen with
+
a refrigerator and a stovetop.
+
  
==Transportation==
+
Private courier services, such as Mail Boxes Etc., provide mail-forwarding service from Miami; however, these companies are limited to major cities and receiving rates vary according to weight. While mail-forwarding services can be considered more reliable than standard surface or airmail, it can be quite costly.
  
Daily travel in many parts of China, including many, but not all,
+
During training, Peace Corps staff will deliver mail to you at least twice a week while you are in Santo Domingo; less often when you are outside of Santo Domingo. Once you move to your site, you will be responsible for sending your new mailing address to friends and family. Some Volunteers find it more convenient to continue using the Santo Domingo address. In that case, mail received at the Peace Corps office will be put in your locker in the Volunteer lounge, and you will have to collect it periodically.  
of the areas where Volunteers serve, is often by bicycle. Although
+
Peace Corps/China does not provide bicycles, many Volunteers
+
use them as their regular means of transportation. The Peace
+
Corps requires each Volunteer to wear a bicycle helmet and will
+
issue one if needed. You are not allowed to drive any motorized
+
vehicle during your service in China or when you travel to other
+
countries where there is a Peace Corps program. You are not
+
allowed to ride on the back of motorcycles or other motorized
+
vehicles.
+
  
Buses and minibuses are also a common form of transportation,
+
We encourage you to write to your family regularly, as family members may become worried when they do not hear from you.  
and bus service is available within and among all cities and small
+
towns. Bus transportation, due to the poor condition of some
+
roads, lack of regular vehicle maintenance, and schedule changes,
+
is not always reliable, so contingency planning is important. Taxi
+
service via cars is available in every city.
+
  
Long-distance travel occurs by air or by train. Although there is
+
====Telephone====
regular air service to most cities in China, official travel is almost
+
always by train. Train service is reliable and there are sleeper car
+
options for overnight trips.
+
  
==Geography and Climate==
+
The Peace Corps office in the Dominican Republic can be reached by direct dialing from the United States. The number is 1.809.685.4102. The phone number for the after-hours duty officer is 1.809.723.9944. The fax number is 1.809.689.9330.
  
China is subject to extremes in weather, from bitterly cold to
+
Long-distance telephone service is available in the Dominican Republic and is not expensive. However, you may or may not have access to a land-line or cellular phone signal at your site. Therefore, new Volunteers are issued cellular phones by Peace Corps/Dominican Republic. This enables staff to maintain contact with Volunteers and to send messages in an emergency. There is no charge for receiving calls or text messages on cellular phones, but all personal calls outside the Peace Corps network are at the Volunteers’ expense. Phone card rates for calling internationally to the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico are typically the same as making a local call. Prepaid calling cards bought in the United States usually don’t work. Volunteers may use call centers of the major telephone companies, Verizon or Tricom, which have branches throughout the country.
unbearably hot. All Volunteer sites are cold in the winter, and
+
several weeks of sustained temperatures in the 25- to 38-degree
+
Fahrenheit range can be uncomfortable for Americans used to
+
central heating. Although some heat is provided, rooms will be
+
cooler than some people prefer. Also, Chinese generally believe
+
that artificial heat and closed-in areas are unhealthy. Be prepared
+
to wear several layers of clothing, especially when away from
+
your residence (including when you are teaching because
+
classrooms are unheated). Summers in western China, on the other hand, can be hot and humid, with temperatures reaching into the
+
90s for many days. Most Volunteers’ apartments have air
+
conditioners and some classrooms have electric fans, but the heat
+
can be challenging for some people.
+
  
==Social Activities==
+
The major cell phone companies are Claro, Orange, and Tricom.
  
The Chinese are generally friendly and pleasant people, but it is
+
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access====
sometimes difficult for foreigners to integrate into Chinese
+
society. Until fairly recently, social contact between Chinese and
+
most foreigners was limited to business relationships. Despite the
+
increased opportunities for interaction, because of markedly
+
different expectations about friendship roles, it can be challenging
+
to become friends with a Chinese person in a way that Americans
+
typically define friendship. Intimate relationships between
+
Chinese and foreigners, depending on the nature of the
+
relationship, the location, and the parties involved, can be
+
sensitive and potentially controversial.
+
  
Life in western China is generally much slower than life in the
+
If your sponsoring agency or project partner owns a computer, you may be able to arrange access for work-related or personal use. The resource center and computer room at the Peace Corps office in Santo Domingo has a limited number of computers with Internet access for Volunteer use.  However, if you want to receive personal e-mail, you will need to set up an account with a service such as Yahoo!, Gmail, or Hotmail. Internet access is also available at Internet cafes throughout the country. Peace Corps staff computers are not available for Volunteer use.  
United States. Current Volunteers recommend taking the initiative
+
in joining activities outside of work, such as learning Chinese
+
calligraphy, kung fu, mah-jongg, or the board game Go (weiqi);
+
joining a sports club; or inviting friends and colleagues to go out
+
for karaoke. Your Volunteer experience will be much richer and
+
fulfilling if you readily look for cultural-sharing opportunities at
+
your site.
+
  
==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior==  
+
===Housing and Site Location===
  
Great importance is likely to be attached to neatness and proper
+
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.  
dress, particularly in professional fields. Volunteers should dress
+
suitably both on and off the job and respect host country and
+
community attitudes toward personal appearance. Based on
+
accepted norms for teachers in China, Peace Corps/China has
+
adopted a dress and appearance code for Volunteers, which is
+
required during pre-service training, teaching time, office hours,
+
important social activities, and while visiting the Peace Corps
+
office in Chengdu. When participating in athletic activities, you
+
are encouraged to wear modest sports clothes.
+
  
Appropriate dress includes collared shirts (not T-shirts) and pants
+
You will also live with a host family during the first three 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.
for men (short-sleeve shirts are recommended for summer);
+
blouses, knee-length skirts, dresses, or dress slacks for women;
+
and sturdy sandals or closed shoes (not rubber thongs). To meet
+
Chinese expectations, teachers must dress conservatively. No hats
+
should be worn during sessions or while teaching; no earrings for
+
men and only one earring in each lobe for women; no body
+
piercings for men or women; and any tattoos must be kept covered
+
at all times. Male teachers are expected to have neat hair. Thus,
+
short haircuts that are neat and well-kept are required.
+
Short shorts, revealing or tight clothing, military-style clothing,
+
spaghetti straps, or flip-flops should not be worn. Walking shorts
+
(knee length) or culottes, clean jeans and T-shirts, and sandals are
+
acceptable casual dress
+
  
===Use of Alcohol===
+
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.  
Peace Corps/China has a policy regarding the use of alcohol by
+
Volunteers and staff. That policy requires moderation in
+
consumption and holds Volunteers and staff responsible for
+
behavior that could harm the reputation of the Peace Corps,
+
disrespect local cultural traditions, or compromise the personal
+
health and safety of Volunteers or staff. Should you have personal
+
concerns about the issue of alcohol use and your interest in being
+
assigned as a Volunteer to China, please feel free to discuss this
+
with your recruiter, the China country desk officer, or a Peace
+
Corps medical staff member.
+
===Websites and Blogs===
+
Volunteers and trainees who create their own websites, or post
+
information to websites that have been created and maintained by
+
others, should be reminded that (unless password-protected) any
+
information posted on the Internet can probably be accessed by
+
the general public, even if that is not intended. They are
+
responsible for discussing the content in advance with the country
+
director to ensure that the material is suitable and complies with
+
general guidelines, as well as any country-specific guidance.
+
Volunteers and trainees are responsible for ensuring that their IT
+
use meets Peace Corps general guidelines.
+
===Photographs===
+
Volunteers are required to take extreme care in taking, or avoid
+
taking, photographs of what are clearly or could be perceived as
+
sensitive areas, including, but not limited to, military installations,
+
government buildings, police stations, airports, and airplanes.
+
If you are unsure, it is safer to refrain from taking the photograph.
+
  
==Personal Safety ==
+
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
  
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to
+
As a Volunteer, you will receive a monthly living allowance in the local currency (Dominican pesos; abbreviated as RD).  The living allowance is meant to cover housing, utilities, household supplies, normal clothing replacement, food, transportation, moderate entertainment expenses, reading material, and incidentals. It will enable you to live modestly, at the same level as your neighbors and colleagues. Peace Corps/Dominican Republic will open a bank account for you and provide you with an ATM card. You will need to budget appropriately to make the living allowance last a month.  
safety is contained in the “Health Care and Safety” chapter, but it
+
is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in
+
the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer
+
entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar
+
environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of
+
local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are
+
some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many
+
Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and
+
harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and
+
incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most
+
China Volunteers complete their two years of service without
+
incident. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies
+
designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety
+
and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety
+
training, will be provided once you arrive in China. Using these
+
tools, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and
+
well-being.
+
  
Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed to providing
+
Additionally, you will receive a monthly vacation allowance equivalent to $24, paid in local currency at the same time as the living allowance. You will also receive a one-time settling-in allowance to purchase needed household furniture and equipment (e.g., a bed, a stove, kitchen items, and locks) and pay several months of advance rent if required.  
Volunteers with the support they need to successfully meet the
+
challenges they will face to have a safe, healthy, and productive
+
service. We encourage Volunteers and families to look at our
+
safety and security information on the Peace Corps website at
+
www.peacecorps.gov/safety.
+
  
Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer health
+
Most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in the Dominican Republic with these allowances, so we strongly discourage you from supplementing the living allowance with money from home. Still, many Volunteers bring money from home for out-of-country travel. Credit cards can be used in many establishments in major cities, and traveler’s checks can be cashed for a small fee.  
and Volunteer safety. There is a section titled “Safety and Security
+
—Our Partnership.” Among topics addressed are the risks of serving as a Volunteer, posts’ safety support systems, and
+
emergency planning and communications.
+
  
==Rewards and Frustrations==  
+
===Food and Diet===
  
Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer may be the most rewarding
+
The Dominican diet consists primarily of rice, beans, yuca (cassava), plantains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables, along with eggs, chicken, pork, beef, and some fish. The national dish is sancocho, a rich vegetable-andmeat stew served on special occasions. A typical Dominican meal, called la bandera, is a mix of rice, red beans, and meat. Yuca may be boiled, prepared as fritters, or baked into rounds of crisp cracker bread called casabe. Most dishes are not spicy. Locally grown, seasonal fruits include bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, guavas, and avocados.  Dominicans generally eat small quantities of meat at meals. Bacalau (dried fish; usually cod) can be found in several areas, but fresh fish is generally available only along the coast.  Habichuelas con dulce, a sweetened dish made from beans, is popular at Easter.  
thing you do in your life, and living in China is likely to be an
+
extraordinary experience. But many Westerners find that they
+
have to adjust to living in China, and that day-to-day life here presents some challenges.
+
Not feeling accepted by Chinese is a common experience. Staring,
+
name-calling (e.g., waiguoren or laowai), and seemingly impolite
+
shouts of “Hello!” followed by giggling are all things you may
+
face on a daily basis. This is by no means considered acceptable
+
behavior by most Chinese, but at times it may seem that way.
+
  
Although staring is unnerving to most Americans, it is not meant
+
Vegetarians will be able to maintain their diet at home, but they will be offered—and expected to accept—traditional foods, including meat, when visiting Dominican families. You will have to be open and flexible about sharing in the Dominican diet when necessary.  
to be offensive. In China, it is OK to stare intensely at anything or
+
anyone. This can be a source of frustration and even friction as
+
you begin to feel more integrated into Chinese culture. You may
+
always stand out in a crowd, so you will have little of the
+
anonymity you might enjoy in other places where you are
+
unknown. You might be asked very personal questions (e.g., about
+
your age, weight, or income) by Chinese, but that is a way for
+
them to show a friendly interest in you. The American desire for
+
privacy is not always understood and, therefore, not often
+
honored. At some campuses, officials have keys to on-campus
+
housing and may feel free to enter your apartment to check on
+
things while you are out.
+
  
Casual dating is not common and is discouraged. High school
+
During training, your host family will provide your meals. Once you are at your site, you can choose to eat with Dominicans or cook on your own. To supplement their diet, some Volunteers plant gardens at home.  
students are forbidden to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and
+
relationships between college students are everyone’s business.
+
Serious dating is noticed because of the general lack of privacy.
+
Because gaining a bad reputation in China can destroy a young
+
woman's relationship with her family, a Westerner who wants to
+
date a Chinese must realize that such dating is a delicate matter for
+
the Chinese person involved.
+
  
Volunteers may become frustrated with aspects of Chinese cities,
+
===Transportation===
such as a seeming lack of traffic regulations, restrooms, and other public facilities that do not meet expected standards of cleanliness,
+
and a general lack of building and equipment maintenance.
+
  
[[Category:China]]
+
Transportation is relatively easy in the Dominican Republic. Most urban travel is by bus and van, although carro públicos (a sort of shared taxi), are available as well. Intercity travel is by bus; rural travel runs the gamut from air-conditioned minibuses to crowded carro públicos to lots of walking.  Although inexpensive, carro públicos are where most Volunteers experience pickpocketing and robberies. Do not travel in them at night.
 +
 
 +
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to drive vehicles or motorcycles in the Dominican Republic. Violation of this policy will result in termination of your Peace Corps service.
 +
 
 +
Most Volunteers rely on public transportation to get around.  But Volunteers can request assistance from the Peace Corps in arranging alternative means of local transportation.  Volunteers can apply for and recieve limited funds to purchase a bicycle in the Dominican Republic. The Peace Corps will also provide you with a helmet, which you must wear at all times while riding a bicycle. Failure to abide by this policy will also result in termination of your Peace Corps serddd
 +
 
 +
===Climate===
 +
 
 +
With an average temperature range of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, this Caribbean country is probably not as hot as you might think. It is difficult to define a rainy season, since showers can occur at any time during the year, depending on the area. However, the period of heaviest rainfall for most of the island is late April to early October, months that can be relatively hot and humid. The cooler season—from November to February—is pleasant but still warm, with temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need both lightweight clothing suitable for hot weather and at least one heavier garment for traveling to cooler, mountainous areas such as the 10,417 -foot Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Caribbean. .
 +
chicken nuggets rock
 +
 
 +
===Social Activities===
 +
 
 +
Social activities in the Dominican Republic vary depending on where you are located. They include taking part in festivities such as Carnival, parties, and dances. Some Volunteers visit other Volunteers nearby on weekends for work-related or social occasions and will make an occasional trip to the capital. We encourage Volunteers to remain at their sites as much as possible to help accomplish the Peace Corps’ goal of cultural exchange. Most regional capitals have cafés and restaurants, movie theaters, and other forms of entertainment.
 +
 
 +
Social life in the Dominican Republic often revolves around the family porch, where people talk while playing dominoes, a national pastime. Outdoor tables in front of homes, bars, and colmados (neighborhood markets) are surrounded by men who play for hours, especially on Sundays. Outdoor players are almost exclusively men, but everyone plays at home. Even young children become adept at the game. Baseball is the country’s most popular sport. The competition is keen, and rarely does a day go by when children, youth, and even adults are not playing baseball with anything they can find to use as a bat and ball. Cockfighting is another national pastime, and the gambling stakes can be high.
 +
 
 +
Dominicans also love music and dancing. Merengue is the national dance, and many people, including small children, know the steps. The fast-paced, rhythmic music of merengue is traditionally performed with three instruments: a tambora (a small drum), a melodeon (similar to an accordion), and a guira (a scraping percussion instrument). Bachata is a another popular folk dance that is overtaking merengue in popularity. Salsa and other styles of Latin American music are popular, as are North American pop and jazz. Discos exist even in rural communities.
 +
 
 +
What has kept merengue alive over the years is its place in the Dominican Republic’s Carnival celebrations. All of the major cities celebrate Carnival with zeal, incorporating music and dance into the street parades and other festivities. In Santo Domingo, Carnival occurs twice a year. The first occurs during the traditional pre-Lenten holiday. The second one, much smaller but just as festive, starts the day before August 16, which is the anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s declaration of war against Spain in 1863.
 +
 
 +
Each July, Santo Domingo hosts a merengue festival along its main seaside strip, El Malecón. The street is closed off to make way for some of the country’s most popular bands.  Celebrations also take place at clubs, hotels, and even nighttime beach parties. Smaller merengue festivals take place in other towns.
 +
 
 +
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
 +
 
 +
Dominicans take pride in their personal appearance. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of rural, urban, and government-level workers, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Standards of dress for foreign aid workers tend to be conservative and modest. Women are expected to wear casual pants or mid-length skirts for professional activities (excluding physical labor); men are expected to wear pants for professional activities other than sports and physical labor. Simply stated: first impressions will be informed by the way you dress. Establishing yourself as a professional technical resource in your community is a part of the overall challenge of adjusting to a new language and culture. Dressing as a professional will ease this process for you. Inappropriate dress may send unintended messages or invitations to co-workers and/or others in your community.
 +
 
 +
Out of respect for Dominican culture, Volunteers are not allowed to display body piercings. This includes nose rings, tongue bolts, and navel rings. Men are not allowed to wear earrings or have long hair or ponytails. If you do not remove your body rings and cut your hair before you arrive in the Dominican Republic, you will be asked to do so before you move in with a host family during training. Adherence to this policy is an important test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to the new environment. If you have reservations about this policy and the degree of sacrifice and flexibility required to be a successful Volunteer, you should reevaluate your decision to accept the invitation to Peace Corps/Dominican Republic.
 +
 
 +
The Peace Corps expects you to comport yourself in a way that will foster respect in your community and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on citizens of the United States.  Drinking and smoking in public is strongly discouraged as Volunteers are seen as role models, especially among local youth. You will receive an orientation on appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest and must be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.  Behavior that jeopardizes the Peace Corps’ mission in the Dominican Republic or your personal safety could lead to an administrative separation—a termination of your Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook has more information on the grounds for administrative separation.
 +
 
 +
===Personal Safety===
 +
 
 +
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents.  The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in the Dominican Republic. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being. This means being proactive in avoiding dangerous situations and reporting immediately to Peace Corps/Dominican Republic when there is an incident or emergency.
 +
 
 +
===Rewards and Frustrations===
 +
 
 +
Although the potential for job satisfaction in the Dominican Republic is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.
 +
 
 +
You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work, perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.
 +
 
 +
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave the Dominican Republic feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service.  If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.
 +
 
 +
Volunteers usually are readily accepted by their host community and make lasting friendships. However, for many Volunteers, constantly being asked personal questions, the lack of privacy, being considered a rich foreigner, and the need to be aware of different social mores can be trying. As in most Latin American countries, women in the Dominican Republic do not have the freedoms to which North American women are accustomed. A female Volunteer’s inability to adapt to this reality can make her less effective and possibly even affect her safety.
 +
 
 +
The Peace Corps is not for everyone. Creativity, initiative, flexibility, patience, and a high tolerance for ambiguity are necessary attributes in confronting the challenges associated with facilitating change in a cultural setting different from the United States. Your dedication, however, can have real and lasting results. When your service is over, you will have the deep satisfaction of having played a role in a grassroots development process that helped give Dominicans greater control of their future.
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Dominican Republic]]

Revision as of 12:33, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications

Mail

Mail delivery between the United States and the Dominican Republic is generally dependable but can be unreliable. Letters and packages sent by airmail take from 10 days to two weeks to arrive. Surface mail can take months.

Your address for regular mail service in the Dominican

Republic while you are a Peace Corps trainee (PCT) will be:

“Your Name,” PCT

Cuerpo de Paz

Av Bolivar 451, Gazcue

Apartado Postal 1412

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Please Note: Do not send money, airline tickets, or other valuable items through the mail.

Should you need to have a package sent to the Dominican Republic, we recommend that the contents be limited to items that fit into padded envelopes. These are less likely to be lost, opened, or taxed than are other types of packages.

Packages may also be shipped via a parcel delivery service. Federal Express and DHL have offices in Santo Domingo. If you want them to deliver a package to the Peace Corps office, you will have to provide the office street address (instead of the post office box address listed above) and phone number:

Your address for expedited mail service in the Dominican Republic while you are a Peace Corps trainee or Volunteer will be:

“Your Name,” PCT

Cuerpo de Paz

451 Avenida Bolivar

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Telephone: 809.685.4102

Please Note: Federal Express and DHL will not deliver items larger than an envelope to the Peace Corps office, so you may have to pay significant customs duties to retrieve larger items from customs, and picking up the items may mean an entire day’s travel to the capital. In addition, packages sometimes disappear in transit.

Additionally, there is a tax levied on every package received by a trainee or Volunteer. Peace Corps does not cover these costs. All packages received in-country are charged RD$100 (currently USD$3.07) for retrieval and then an additional RD$100 per pound. So, for example, a 10-pound package would cost the Volunteer RD$1,100 (USD$34.00), which is a significant amount considering Volunteer living allowance.

Private courier services, such as Mail Boxes Etc., provide mail-forwarding service from Miami; however, these companies are limited to major cities and receiving rates vary according to weight. While mail-forwarding services can be considered more reliable than standard surface or airmail, it can be quite costly.

During training, Peace Corps staff will deliver mail to you at least twice a week while you are in Santo Domingo; less often when you are outside of Santo Domingo. Once you move to your site, you will be responsible for sending your new mailing address to friends and family. Some Volunteers find it more convenient to continue using the Santo Domingo address. In that case, mail received at the Peace Corps office will be put in your locker in the Volunteer lounge, and you will have to collect it periodically.

We encourage you to write to your family regularly, as family members may become worried when they do not hear from you.

Telephone

The Peace Corps office in the Dominican Republic can be reached by direct dialing from the United States. The number is 1.809.685.4102. The phone number for the after-hours duty officer is 1.809.723.9944. The fax number is 1.809.689.9330.

Long-distance telephone service is available in the Dominican Republic and is not expensive. However, you may or may not have access to a land-line or cellular phone signal at your site. Therefore, new Volunteers are issued cellular phones by Peace Corps/Dominican Republic. This enables staff to maintain contact with Volunteers and to send messages in an emergency. There is no charge for receiving calls or text messages on cellular phones, but all personal calls outside the Peace Corps network are at the Volunteers’ expense. Phone card rates for calling internationally to the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico are typically the same as making a local call. Prepaid calling cards bought in the United States usually don’t work. Volunteers may use call centers of the major telephone companies, Verizon or Tricom, which have branches throughout the country.

The major cell phone companies are Claro, Orange, and Tricom.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

If your sponsoring agency or project partner owns a computer, you may be able to arrange access for work-related or personal use. The resource center and computer room at the Peace Corps office in Santo Domingo has a limited number of computers with Internet access for Volunteer use. However, if you want to receive personal e-mail, you will need to set up an account with a service such as Yahoo!, Gmail, or Hotmail. Internet access is also available at Internet cafes throughout the country. Peace Corps staff computers are not available for Volunteer use.

Housing and Site Location

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 three 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.

Living Allowance and Money Management

As a Volunteer, you will receive a monthly living allowance in the local currency (Dominican pesos; abbreviated as RD). The living allowance is meant to cover housing, utilities, household supplies, normal clothing replacement, food, transportation, moderate entertainment expenses, reading material, and incidentals. It will enable you to live modestly, at the same level as your neighbors and colleagues. Peace Corps/Dominican Republic will open a bank account for you and provide you with an ATM card. You will need to budget appropriately to make the living allowance last a month.

Additionally, you will receive a monthly vacation allowance equivalent to $24, paid in local currency at the same time as the living allowance. You will also receive a one-time settling-in allowance to purchase needed household furniture and equipment (e.g., a bed, a stove, kitchen items, and locks) and pay several months of advance rent if required.

Most Volunteers find they can live comfortably in the Dominican Republic with these allowances, so we strongly discourage you from supplementing the living allowance with money from home. Still, many Volunteers bring money from home for out-of-country travel. Credit cards can be used in many establishments in major cities, and traveler’s checks can be cashed for a small fee.

Food and Diet

The Dominican diet consists primarily of rice, beans, yuca (cassava), plantains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables, along with eggs, chicken, pork, beef, and some fish. The national dish is sancocho, a rich vegetable-andmeat stew served on special occasions. A typical Dominican meal, called la bandera, is a mix of rice, red beans, and meat. Yuca may be boiled, prepared as fritters, or baked into rounds of crisp cracker bread called casabe. Most dishes are not spicy. Locally grown, seasonal fruits include bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, guavas, and avocados. Dominicans generally eat small quantities of meat at meals. Bacalau (dried fish; usually cod) can be found in several areas, but fresh fish is generally available only along the coast. Habichuelas con dulce, a sweetened dish made from beans, is popular at Easter.

Vegetarians will be able to maintain their diet at home, but they will be offered—and expected to accept—traditional foods, including meat, when visiting Dominican families. You will have to be open and flexible about sharing in the Dominican diet when necessary.

During training, your host family will provide your meals. Once you are at your site, you can choose to eat with Dominicans or cook on your own. To supplement their diet, some Volunteers plant gardens at home.

Transportation

Transportation is relatively easy in the Dominican Republic. Most urban travel is by bus and van, although carro públicos (a sort of shared taxi), are available as well. Intercity travel is by bus; rural travel runs the gamut from air-conditioned minibuses to crowded carro públicos to lots of walking. Although inexpensive, carro públicos are where most Volunteers experience pickpocketing and robberies. Do not travel in them at night.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to drive vehicles or motorcycles in the Dominican Republic. Violation of this policy will result in termination of your Peace Corps service.

Most Volunteers rely on public transportation to get around. But Volunteers can request assistance from the Peace Corps in arranging alternative means of local transportation. Volunteers can apply for and recieve limited funds to purchase a bicycle in the Dominican Republic. The Peace Corps will also provide you with a helmet, which you must wear at all times while riding a bicycle. Failure to abide by this policy will also result in termination of your Peace Corps serddd

Climate

With an average temperature range of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, this Caribbean country is probably not as hot as you might think. It is difficult to define a rainy season, since showers can occur at any time during the year, depending on the area. However, the period of heaviest rainfall for most of the island is late April to early October, months that can be relatively hot and humid. The cooler season—from November to February—is pleasant but still warm, with temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need both lightweight clothing suitable for hot weather and at least one heavier garment for traveling to cooler, mountainous areas such as the 10,417 -foot Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Caribbean. . chicken nuggets rock

Social Activities

Social activities in the Dominican Republic vary depending on where you are located. They include taking part in festivities such as Carnival, parties, and dances. Some Volunteers visit other Volunteers nearby on weekends for work-related or social occasions and will make an occasional trip to the capital. We encourage Volunteers to remain at their sites as much as possible to help accomplish the Peace Corps’ goal of cultural exchange. Most regional capitals have cafés and restaurants, movie theaters, and other forms of entertainment.

Social life in the Dominican Republic often revolves around the family porch, where people talk while playing dominoes, a national pastime. Outdoor tables in front of homes, bars, and colmados (neighborhood markets) are surrounded by men who play for hours, especially on Sundays. Outdoor players are almost exclusively men, but everyone plays at home. Even young children become adept at the game. Baseball is the country’s most popular sport. The competition is keen, and rarely does a day go by when children, youth, and even adults are not playing baseball with anything they can find to use as a bat and ball. Cockfighting is another national pastime, and the gambling stakes can be high.

Dominicans also love music and dancing. Merengue is the national dance, and many people, including small children, know the steps. The fast-paced, rhythmic music of merengue is traditionally performed with three instruments: a tambora (a small drum), a melodeon (similar to an accordion), and a guira (a scraping percussion instrument). Bachata is a another popular folk dance that is overtaking merengue in popularity. Salsa and other styles of Latin American music are popular, as are North American pop and jazz. Discos exist even in rural communities.

What has kept merengue alive over the years is its place in the Dominican Republic’s Carnival celebrations. All of the major cities celebrate Carnival with zeal, incorporating music and dance into the street parades and other festivities. In Santo Domingo, Carnival occurs twice a year. The first occurs during the traditional pre-Lenten holiday. The second one, much smaller but just as festive, starts the day before August 16, which is the anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s declaration of war against Spain in 1863.

Each July, Santo Domingo hosts a merengue festival along its main seaside strip, El Malecón. The street is closed off to make way for some of the country’s most popular bands. Celebrations also take place at clubs, hotels, and even nighttime beach parties. Smaller merengue festivals take place in other towns.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

Dominicans take pride in their personal appearance. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of rural, urban, and government-level workers, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Standards of dress for foreign aid workers tend to be conservative and modest. Women are expected to wear casual pants or mid-length skirts for professional activities (excluding physical labor); men are expected to wear pants for professional activities other than sports and physical labor. Simply stated: first impressions will be informed by the way you dress. Establishing yourself as a professional technical resource in your community is a part of the overall challenge of adjusting to a new language and culture. Dressing as a professional will ease this process for you. Inappropriate dress may send unintended messages or invitations to co-workers and/or others in your community.

Out of respect for Dominican culture, Volunteers are not allowed to display body piercings. This includes nose rings, tongue bolts, and navel rings. Men are not allowed to wear earrings or have long hair or ponytails. If you do not remove your body rings and cut your hair before you arrive in the Dominican Republic, you will be asked to do so before you move in with a host family during training. Adherence to this policy is an important test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to the new environment. If you have reservations about this policy and the degree of sacrifice and flexibility required to be a successful Volunteer, you should reevaluate your decision to accept the invitation to Peace Corps/Dominican Republic.

The Peace Corps expects you to comport yourself in a way that will foster respect in your community and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on citizens of the United States. Drinking and smoking in public is strongly discouraged as Volunteers are seen as role models, especially among local youth. You will receive an orientation on appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest and must be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts. Behavior that jeopardizes the Peace Corps’ mission in the Dominican Republic or your personal safety could lead to an administrative separation—a termination of your Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook has more information on the grounds for administrative separation.

Personal Safety

More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in the Dominican Republic. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being. This means being proactive in avoiding dangerous situations and reporting immediately to Peace Corps/Dominican Republic when there is an incident or emergency.

Rewards and Frustrations

Although the potential for job satisfaction in the Dominican Republic is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys.

You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work, perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave the Dominican Republic feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.

Volunteers usually are readily accepted by their host community and make lasting friendships. However, for many Volunteers, constantly being asked personal questions, the lack of privacy, being considered a rich foreigner, and the need to be aware of different social mores can be trying. As in most Latin American countries, women in the Dominican Republic do not have the freedoms to which North American women are accustomed. A female Volunteer’s inability to adapt to this reality can make her less effective and possibly even affect her safety.

The Peace Corps is not for everyone. Creativity, initiative, flexibility, patience, and a high tolerance for ambiguity are necessary attributes in confronting the challenges associated with facilitating change in a cultural setting different from the United States. Your dedication, however, can have real and lasting results. When your service is over, you will have the deep satisfaction of having played a role in a grassroots development process that helped give Dominicans greater control of their future.