My feeling so far is that the theme of this project in the Dominican so far has been `back to basics`. In every sense that is. For Development this means scrapping your models and turning a fresh page to redraw the possibilities. An idea today could be community development tomorrow. Concepts you hold to dearly ought to be put under the light for closer inspection. This continual process of reflecting on how we interact with the people around us is what can make the difference.
Back to basics has also meant that the sessions we envisioned delivering to the group had to be amended as we discovered the language barrier – particularly in an environment where some may speak Spanish others Creole, some French and few have a handle of English. Yet despite the language divide, and between our wonderful translator and our own broken Spanish there are the beginnings of some powerful ideas. Ideas this community in Esperanza and the Batey – as well as others, could benefit from.
Everyday we have to reassess our plan and every day is more and more a reminder of why back to basics is a great thing. Our arrival into Esparanza was one that included no power in the house, no internet and thus no way for us to present everything we had intended. “All we need is a ‘projector’”- and although our power point presentations or prezis may have certainly helped, they were not necessarily needed. So forward we went, paper and pen – none to sure how it would all turn out.
The frustrating part is that many of them do not understand what community development is or looks like. Although while it is frustrating this is also one of the aspects I love best. As we continually push them to see further than just `what` the idea does but see `why` they are doing it, the idea transforms into something far more beautiful and inspiring. A group of boys playing soccer to pass the time becomes a way for youth, who face hardship more than is ever necessary, to give hope to those with dreams of something greater. With a ball and some hand me down uniforms they can move adolescents into a positive and fun environment.
On a personal level I feel I am returning to a time where being in this type of environment was second nature. Every thing here feels familiar and yet I discover so much with everyday. I love being surrounded by the Spanish and the Creole and French – as if the multilingual environment was designed for me. As I have developed a steady ear to catch the quick fire chopped up Dominican Spanish, I can now begin to understand the issues more closely – what a translation could not fully allow.
As always, I look forward to learning about a human dimension that simply cannot be taught.