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Social Multi Media Journalism - Perfect for creative people

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The multimedia work I did here was very enjoyable

My name is Kevin Murton and I have just finished my 7 weeks in Samana, Dominican Republic, volunteering for Aldeas de Paz helping with the Multi Media output.

As everyone would be, I was a little nervous about how the experience would turn out for various reasons, particularly in relation to my age and lack of intermediate Spanish ability.

I quickly realised I didn't have to worry on either account.

Although I was encouraged to speak Spanish whenever I could, particularly in the Spanish lessons, I felt comfortable at all times that my English would get me by, and that was the common language we generally used in any meetings I was involved in.

In relation to my age, genuinely I felt no difference in my relationships with the volunteers as the younger ones did with each other. Having a young open mind and respect for each other was plenty for everyone to generally get along.

I offered my unique set of skills, capabilities and energies and others did the same. I suppose you kind of adopt a role within a temporary family setting, which obviously changes as people come and go.

So when I initially arrived, I had an amazing welcome from Manfred and the rest of the volunteers. I made sure I had no expectations as to the place I was coming to and made myself aware of the fact that cultural differences would be inevitable. A mindful, moment-to-moment approach, without too much judgement, helped me through those initial few days.

Bit-by-bit I felt more and more comfortable with any security concerns I may have had. A healthy awareness of what was going on around me, like I do in London, and common sense decisions became part of my everyday living. It feels very safe here.

Getting used to the heat, changes in diet and the variety of nature that you see (from experience a clean room and a spray every month of insect repellant deters anything that may want to come inside), can all be viewed positively, and some may not be concerned with these changes at all, but if you are, taking the initiative to find the best way you want to deal with these issues quickly is a good idea.

Eating the Plata del Dia or buying vegetables at the local market or the colmardos near to the apartments can make food here quite cheap, but be aware of buying too much at the 'gringo' supermecado. Food can be very expensive here and a lot of it doesn't have the price on it.

It may take a while for the local gift shops to realise that you aren't a tourist, so you will be an amigo/a to all of them. It's a good way to practice your Spanish if nothing else.

The Multi Media work I did here was very enjoyable and working at the school, the hospital, at the Ayuntamiento, interviewing the Mayor. It feels very rewarding having produced film that can only show Aldeas de Paz in a positive light and perhaps create opportunities for future grants.

There is some amazingly beautiful scenery here on the Samana peninsula to explore. Whale watching during February and March, El Salto de Limon (waterfall), the amazingly beautiful Playa de Cayo Levantado and Los Haitises are some, but every so often you catch the beauty shown by the people; typically on the beach, with Bachata music playing as couples dance, as others play table games and still others lay back in the sun with a Carribbean kissed cocktail ready to sip, wrapped in not much more than the hot breeze drifting off the gentility of the ocean.

I have experienced a few of these kinds of cultural immersion trips now and felt genuinely emotional about leaving a group of people, whose heart tells them they want help a society, which at the moment is not able to give the same chances as most of us have back in our own countries.

Manfred is a great man and I have a lot of respect for him. He makes a lot of effort to help make your experience a useful and happy one. I came here to have an adventure, learn more Spanish and help a very worthwhile charity. I leave feeling like a better person, with what I have accomplished. Thanks Manfred, I have had an amazing experience, which will stay in my memories for a very long time to come. I hope our paths meet again in the not too distant future! Bye I'm off to Costa Rica.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Aldeas de Paz was a ground-breaking, exciting, and wonderful experience!

Finding out my weaknesses, strengths, and goals for my future life was the main ambition for my Latin American trip. After high school I wanted to get out and discover both myself and the world. I wanted to expand my horizons, to escape from societal structures, and, as the saying goes, to “think outside the box”. I experienced all of these things in Samana in the Dominican Republic in my five weeks as a volunteer in the fundacion Aldeas de Paz.

Samana is a great place to get closer to the Dominican culture and in my opinion also a suitable place to start a foundation. I say this as it is a fantastic location, where the special feeling of Caribbean life with endless white beaches on the peninsula of Samana cannot be missed. Samana has approximately 40 000 inhabitants, where the roaring, energetic life takes you over. I had to get used to it in the first week, but I learned quickly to deal with the new circumstances and to become more open-minded. My boss and my fellow volunteers helped me a great deal with this first step. The feeling of isolation never came to me because someone was always close at hand whenever problems arose. The security in Samana and the friendliness towards tourists was especially noticeable and it has to be emphasized, because this is not the case in Latin America as a whole.

The foundation Aldeas de Paz is currently under construction in the Dominican Republic, because it has had to move from the political situation of Venezuela. This played straight into my hands, because therefore I had more freedom in my volunteer program and job scope, and nobody could put me in pre-defined structures (as I had hoped). The freedom of the working situation was increased by the horizontal management consciously exercised by my boss, so that each and every volunteer could participate as they wanted and were able to. This gave me the satisfaction of learning more about myself, making a difference, taking part in a development, and growing with progressively difficult tasks. I could not expect to make a big impact with some of my work, because volunteer work is often associated with a long development process. This was something I had to learn in the beginning. Because of the short duration of my volunteering, I operated in many different sectors, e.g. working with children with learning difficulties, or social media marketing. Through it I found some new interests and I was able to make sense of my future plans, which brought me a little bit closer to my goals.

Overall those five weeks in Aldeas de Paz were a ground-breaking, exciting, and wonderful experience, which I would have no hesitation in recommending to any high school graduate who wishes to expand his or her horizons and is exuberant.