Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cógelo suave and get some “tigueraje”!

I finally got to the Dominican Republic after 30+ hours of traveling.  

Hola Santo Domingo!
My lovely field leaders, Eddie and Mario, and Country leader Lia greeted me at my arrival carrying a sign that read “SEC”. We waited a few hours for another intern and then headed to the hostel in which we would stay for two nights for orientation before we would head to Los Blancos, Enriquillo where our homestay families awaited for us. The rest of the pack joined us later that night. Some nationalities were represented in our intern group: Nigeria, USA, Romania and Mexico of course!

During orientation we got a glimpse of what we would be doing for the next few weeks and also received great insight for the guiding principles of social entrepreneurship for SEC. These all have specific definitions but I will share with you what they meant and still mean for me.

  •  Social impact- People first not profit. Success means all stakeholders continue to receive access for positive outcome regarding quality of life.
  • Responsiveness- Food is not being offered for people who are thirsty. The opportunities that are being created are the ones that have been stated by the community. They have a say in the whole process to keep social impact sustainable.
  • Flexibility- Change is expected and allowed keeping the results the same if not better. Act, learn evolve.
  • Appropriateness- Keep things real.
  • Sustainability- All stakeholders have that tools and guidance to achieve financial and administrative survival, not dependent of one main stakeholder. Continuous check ups of progress to direct moves towards sustainability.
  • Growth potential- Interest in personal and professional growth from all stakeholders, sense of ownership to maintain the momentum of the interventions.
  • Do no harm- There are sometimes that harm is inevitable, keeping it at its minimum or eliminating it is the goal here. Continuous cost-benefit analysis to maintain stakeholders informed.
When I learned about these principles is the moment when I took ownership of being an SEC intern and said, “I’m in!” I could sense this ownership and personal investment in my field leaders also. The way they talked and went about their interactions with us and within them reflected these guiding principles in many ways. I could not wait to go into the field.

(@Orientation Day, eating "Bandera Dominicana": grilled chicken, beans "habichuelas, and rice.)
Some basics of Dominican culture and history were also covered these two days. Dominicans like to “cogerlo suave”, take things easy in every aspect of their lives. Coming from the “Land of Tomorrow” a nickname often used to describe Mexico I thought it would be easy for me to adjust into this laid-back climate. Little did I know that when you say you will meet with someone at 7 it will more than likely be at 8 since they are more than likely to run into someone they know and it is important to chat with everyone a bit every time you see them, to see how they are doing and what is up with their lives. This was one of the main points of the orientation for SEC DR: people>time. People are more important than being on time. It might seem wrong in a Western context but in a Caribbean context it is perfectly normal and accepted by society.

We also went over an important Dominican population/concept: “tigueres.“ Tigueres are the men a dad warns her daughter about. This smooth operator, risk-taker, independent, smart ass (according to an article by Sarayu Adeni) is someone you will encounter while at the DR, don’t be afraid, they bark more than they bite. Instead, learn some of their ways and use your inner “Tiguere” to: defend yourself from overpriced “motoconcho” (motorcycle taxis) and “guagua” (bus) rides, speak up when necessary, take your ideas to the next level and never saying no to taking a risk that will make you grow as a person and as a professional. DR and all of its tigueres, I am ready!

Sara Beltrán
SEC DR 2015

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