On Wednesday, June 13…
I have been traveling throughout my province and the neighboring provinces to meet up with Peace Corps volunteers and their contacts at schools, which has allowed me to see a lot of the region. It is really hard to complain about bus rides when you are driving through mountains or along the Caribbean coast. I am up to twenty-five interviews with teachers, taking me almost to my goal of thirty. This past week I also got the chance to speak with two students who had experienced difficulties in school due to their lack of documentation. I learned so much from these conversations and they have really helped to put my interviews with teachers in context. I am planning to focus on gathering more student interviews for the remainder of my time here. I have also had the chance to speak with officials at four different education district offices in the region. Not only were they able to give me a higher-level perspective of the policies regarding documentation but they also gave me some really interesting statistics that I am excited to include in my capstone. Overall, people have been extremely willing to speak with me and help me, which has pleasantly surprised me and allowed me to collect a really wide range of information. This week I am heading down to the south of the country to speak with a Peace Corps volunteer who has experienced high levels of discrimination towards Haitian students in her school. I am really looked forward to seeing a new region of the country and getting to hear her perspective.
My biggest challenge right now is sifting through the information that I have and determining what I will be able to use in my thesis. All of the statistics that I have gotten from district offices show a decrease in dropout rates over recent years, contrary to what I had seen in World Bank and UNESCO data. This finding has made my research question, - “Why have dropouts increased over recent years?” - not really accurate. I have been working with my advisors in country and am planning to talk to my advisor, Professor Jaimie Bleck to determine how I want to reframe the results that I am finding. It will definitely be a challenge but I am really looking forward to getting to sit down and analyze the data that I have been finding.
When I am not working, I have been spending a lot of time with my host family, watching a lot of baseball games (if anyone could convince me that baseball could be fun it is Dominicans), exploring the rivers around town, and eating far more of my host mom’s pica pollo (fried chicken) than any one person should in a summer. This summer has been great in almost all aspects except for what it has likely done to my cholesterol. I am so glad I decided to come back to the same town and have really loved getting to know the area and the region better.