It always tickles me a little when people ask me about what my normal day entails. My immediate response is, “This is Peace Corps. There is no such thing as a normal day!” There is always so much variation on a day to day basis, and so for me, it’s hard to describe a normal day; however, I think that’s part of what makes Peace Corps such an amazing experience. You get pushed out of your normal routine and out of your comfort zone. Eventually, you find yourself flying by the seat of your pants and loving it. They say that Peace Corps is the hardest job you’ll ever love, and during all my time here on the island, I haven’t found anything to be more true than that statement.
I have been on the island now for almost three years. I accepted an additional year extension to move to the capital and work at our main office as a volunteer coordinator for all the health volunteers. Before I moved to the capital I lived in a small rural community nestled in the mountains just outside of Santiago. I’ll briefly touch on what a typical day looked like for me there, but I want to focus on what my typical day looks like now living in Santo Domingo. The community where I spent my first two years of my service is called Don Juan. Every morning the roosters would wake me up around 8:00am and I would roll out of bed, turn on my gas stove, and start making breakfast (normally a few eggs, a piece of bread, and coffee). I’d then turn on NPR’s Political Podcast or Slate’s Political Gabfest Podcast and listen while I make and eat breakfast. I would spend the rest of the morning prepping for meetings and planning the rest of my week. Around 12:30pm I would make lunch. Normally I’d have white rice and beans with a big glass of water. After lunch I would spend the rest of the day walking around my community and visiting my neighbors, having little coffee breaks and various different snacks. Once it started to get dark I would usually head home, make dinner, and put on a movie before hitting the hay.
Now that I am living in the capital and work in an office, my days have a lot more structure to them. Some of my responsibilities as a volunteer coordinator are to help facilitate conferences, travel and check up on my volunteers in the field and see how there work is progressing, and lots and lots of “office” work (i.e. reporting, providing feedback to different assessments and forms, collaborating with my supervisors on projects, etc.). With that being said, my typical day starts out quite early. I normally get up at 6:00am and meet my friend Ulises to go workout at his gym. We normally finish our workout around 7:30am. From 7:30am-8:00am I do about thirty minutes of yoga. I then usually make a simple breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt before I hop in the shower and start getting ready to head to the office. My apartment is about a ten minute walk from the office so I walk every morning to work. Sometimes I stop at the market below my apartment and buy an empanada or two for the walk. I arrive at the office around 9:00am and the first thing I do is check up on the news then filter through my emails and start organizing my day. I normally don’t have any meetings until the afternoon so I try and get the majority of my work done before I take my lunch at 1:00pm. After lunch, I usually have a meeting or two with my supervisor, but if not I continue working at my desk alongside the four other volunteer coordinators that I share an office with. My day normally wraps up between 4:00pm-5:00pm. Upon arriving home, I immediately change into shorts and t-shirt because my apartment is incredibly hot until the sun goes down. I wind down by watching a documentary or playing a bit a music before I make dinner. After eating and cleaning up the dishes I start getting ready for bed and am usually asleep by 10:00pm.
Living in the biggest city in the Dominican Republic offers a lot of activities I can participate in which I try to take advantage of! For example, Wednesday through Friday Ulises and I usually go to a pool and swim for about an hour or so. Every Thursday there is a live jazz concert that takes place in the Colonial Zone, which is reasonably close to my apartment, and every Sunday there is live salsa and merengue music in the Colonial Zone as well. After a long week of work, I usually like to go out downtown to dance and let off a bit of steam with a few of my friends.
It was a weird transition going from a small farming community of about six hundred to the biggest city in the Dominican Republic. However, I like that I have so much structure here in the capital working at our office. My typical day now looks entirely different than it did two years ago, but I’m embracing it and enjoying every moment I have left here until I leave in November.
Name: Chris “C.S” Kammerzell
Role: Peace Corps Volunteer Leader
Site: Santo Domingo/ Campo outside of Santiago