brigada verde

DR Days 2 and 3 - Volunteering in the DR!

For the past couple of days our rising DCPS seniors have been putting hearts and hands to work helping to restore the environment in the Dominican Republic.  Our crew teamed up with the staff from the Escuela de Media Ambiente (National Environmental School) to support their efforts to cultivate and propagate trees that will support national reforestation efforts.  On Tuesday we arrived at the school and met with school staff where students learned about the school’s mission and reforestation efforts.  Our students also met with area youth leaders who are part of la Brigada Verde, or the Green Brigade, who travel from school to school encouraging, educating, and inspiring other youth to take pro-environmental actions in their communities.  The students loved getting to know each other and sharing about school life and local customs and traditions from the DR and the U.S.  The end of the day culminated with a mini-dance off - DR students taught our students how to do the merengue, a typical local dance  - and students taught and participated in icebreaker activities in English and Spanish.  On Day 3, we got to work!  Our students arrived early at the environmental school where they got right to work supporting two key projects:  the painting of trash cans to support local pro-environment consciousness raising efforts about the importance of proper trash disposal, and preparing mulch used for the cultivation of baby trees.  Students worked hard in the Caribbean heat for over four hours, and by the end of their shift, they earned rave reviews from the school’s staff, who commented that our students were amongst the kindest and hardest working that they’ve ever worked with.  Later that night, because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, we celebrated with a typical Dominican party!  A local band came to rock in the night with live merengue and salsa music, and locals joined with us as together we danced the night away, Dominican style! 

Brigada Verde

December 13, 2015

Today marked the end of one of my favorite Peace Corps projects to date—an environmentally-focused youth group called Brigada Verde, or “Green Brigade”.

Over the last few months, we’ve met eight times to talk about different aspects of the environment, including ecosystems, air pollution, water pollution, trash and recycling, deforestation, and global warming. The kids arrived with almost no knowledge of the environment, and these basic topics proved very relevant to life here, where it’s normal for people to throw their trash out the window of a moving bus, burn their garbage, and wash their motorcycles in public water sources.

The course, which was created by former Peace Corps volunteers, was full of great hands-on activities that got the kids interested in both the class and the subject more generally. So interested that, while it’s usually a struggle to get people to show up on time to my meetings, they regularly showed up a half hour early—on a Sunday morning, no less!

 Our class may be over, but I’m looking forward to continuing to work with this motivated group of jovenes in January when we start a new section of Escojo Mi Vida, and I attempt to get a community action youth group off the ground. Vamos a ver!

Posing with flowers they made from recycled bottles several weeks ago. 

Performing a drama on deforestation at our graduation (to an audience of one).

Posing with their certificates!

Not pictured: The s’mores we ate at our graduation celebration this morning.