From Peace Corps to Service Learning in the Dominican Republic
About Marie Macdonald
Marie Macdonald is our Programming Operations Manager for 7 Elements in the Dominican Republic, Belize and Peru. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic; her experiences and testimony have helped shaped her passions and guide her personally and professionally. Continue reading to learn more about her story!
I can confidently say that I am more open-minded, appreciative, loving, versatile, and humorous because of my time in my campo, Los Memisos.
Diving into the Dominican Republic
I never would have thought that conversations about the weather and chasing goats out of my yard would be part of my regular day to day happenings. Not only that but also collecting rain water with buckets to bathe with, falling asleep at 9pm to the silent, starlit night, chasing rats out of my room, pealing pigeon peas on a regular basis, learning how to move my hips to bachata, witnessing witchcraft, playing baseball with teenagers, attempting to be a 5th grade teacher, and becoming the most easy-going Marie I could ever imagine was all thanks to my 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic.
I still remember my very first moments in my site, laughing at myself as I attempted to use a pee bucket for the first time or showering outside under the moonlight, afraid of the neighbors seeing my white, glistening body. Everything was different, strange, new, exciting, scary, overwhelming, stressful, hilarious, spontaneous, and all of the other adjectives you can think of. It is incredible how vulnerable and uncomfortable one has to be during service, and how we all manage to thrive in these outrageous situations. I believe my turning point must have happened around the time a baby actually peed on me and I was totally fine with it, whereas as before I would have been grossed out, just like the multiple times I saw families killing goats and pigs in front of me and then helping them cook it for lunch. After such incidents, I can confidently say that I am more open-minded, appreciative, loving, versatile, and humorous because of my time in my campo, Los Memisos.
Life After Peace Corps
Since my Closing of Service in May 2017, I have had the pleasure of going back to my second home on the border of Haiti and the DR six times. Being away from all my loving neighbors, friends, and students for more than a couple months of the year makes my heart yearn and reminds me how special my relationship is with this amazing community. The lack of electricity, cold bucket showers, overwhelming mounds of rice and beans, and occasional visits from creepy crawlers doesn’t even cross my mind as an inconvenience anymore. It is a way of life, and one that I clearly can’t live without as I keep finding myself back in this remarkable country
What She Learned
The whole 27 months wasn’t just a job I had to complete or an impressive addition to my resume. It was me and my every day existence among these strangers that I quickly considered family. Truth be told, I have experienced some of my best memories and some of my worst in Los Memisos. This is what makes the entire experience so real to me. My most recent visit is a prime example of these polar feelings. Devasted and heartbroken to visit the family of my good friend Yeuri who passed away from a recent motorcycle accident to being in the presence of two healthy, newborn, baby boys. The emotions of both life and death wedged together within my short, seven-day visit. Astonishing. These are the types of bonds that my Peace Corps community and I hold throughout the years that strengthens are relationship as we cry and laugh together.
From Peace Corps to Service Learning
Getting Settled in Las Canas February 1, 2020 Hey Everyone! This afternoon we had the pleasure of meeting this lovely group at the Puerto Plata airport. We drove 45 mins to the lodge in Las Canas, gave the students a tour of the area, and had some time at the local...
Follow Indiana University School of Medicine's Service Learning Program in December 2019 with 7 Elements! See there experiences in the Caribbean learning about Global Health and Human Security with our local health professionals and 7e team! Indiana University School...
Program Development with the Yanesha in Peru: Exploring indigenous culture to better understand Human Security Program Operations Manager, Marie MacDonald, spends a month in Peru to build relationships with local partners and prepare 2020 7e programs. Last week our...