Dispatches from Sugar Mountain

­­­Hi everyone,

It’s hard to believe that Melissa and I have been living in Santo Domingo for two months! Time is flying. I’ve been doing a lot of different kinds of work, which I’ve really enjoyed — I’ve been learning a lot about many different aspects of the project and been able to guide my own skill development in that way. Some of what I’ve been doing has been lending my skills as a copyeditor and amateur designer, laying out documents to be published in Adobe InDesign to add to CVC-COIN’s growing online resource library, and ensuring that those publications, funding proposals and really, whatever needs reviewing, is good to go as far as presentation goes.

I’ve also taken over some responsibility for CVC-COIN’s social media feeds — while they currently have a relatively small presence, I’m determined to help grow it using the social media strategy I drafted, and hopefully ensure that the project’s advocacy efforts will continue to be furthered through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other channels. Adapting the social media strategy document, I wrote up a sort of one-page “cheat sheet” for NGOs just getting their social media presence off the ground, with basic but effective tips for growing your audience and gaining visibility for the issues at hand. (Follow us on Twitter or Facebook). I’ve also been able to improve my research and writing skills, contributing to funding proposals and an open letter from civil society, contributing to advocacy efforts on behalf of MSM in the region.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with the research consultant, Julia, on developing the documentation packages for the Baseline Studies for Phase II of the project, including the qualitative questionnaires and surveys and terms of reference for the peer educators. We’ve recently discussed the possibility of going to Dajabón, a town on the Haitian border, to assist Julia and a few others from CVC-COIN with implementing some of the training. Much of my time is spent inside the office rather than in the field, so I have no doubt it would be eye-opening!

Not to mention, we’ve been working on our Spanish. In fact, we’re starting classes at APEC, a university here, next week. I’m really looking forward to being able to communicate more clearly and in a more sophisticated way than just the basics! I think it’ll greatly improve our quality of life.

On the weekends we’ve done some exploring out of town — becoming old pros at the various modes of transit — and checked out a contemporary dance show, as well as of the some of the tourist sites, (so many “First ______ of the New World”s!) museums and the art gallery here. It’s cool to be in a big city, but it’s also really nice to get out of it occasionally.

Today is my birthday, and the office surprised me with a cake and some ballons — nothing like an excuse to eat Dominican sweet treats before noon! Here’s a photo. I’m off to enjoy the rest of my sugar high.


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