I realized I was in love with the Dominican Republic while I was waiting on the side of a street making googly eyes at a baby and the parents, amused and unafraid, offered me the child to hold and a chair to sit on. The love took a while to hit. From the start, living in the DR and working at the education and community development organization The DREAM Project inspired and pushed me.
I always struggle trying to describe my work to my family and friends. While my official title is “Leadership Director,” and while my contract dictates that my primary responsibility is directing our Voices of Youth, our youth leadership program, that is far from what I do.
When we applied to Princeton in Latin America, we envisioned ourselves in remote pueblos (towns), learning from la comunidad (community), and giving back to a region we deeply love and feel connected to in profound ways. To our surprise, we chose placements far closer to the U.S capital than we imagined, and we are actively supporting Latin America from the Worldwide Office of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
Whatever language we use to describe them, relationships are central to a sense of community and personal well-being. Reflecting on our first months at Pueblo a Pueblo, we find that friendships and partnerships are also important to our work here in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.