Between August, 1994 and March, 1997 I served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

As a community education volunteer, my principle project was to assist and enable the community to build an addition to their existing school. The following is the official description of my many activities as a Volunteer.

This site also includes several short stories I wrote about life in the DR, a note about the special people I knew there, and several pictures.


Mr. Rice was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on November 23, 1994 and was assigned to work as a Community Education Promoter in a small rural community of La Lometa (population 750) in the central region of the country.  He worked with several local and regional organizations dealing with the educational system.  His activities included:

Needs Assessment:  Mr. Rice conducted a community needs analysis to determine the challenges the community was facing.  The survey generated statistically reliable data which he and community focus groups utilized to identify root causes, priorities, and possible projects.  The assessment of 150 families included questions on lifestyle, health, sanitation, income and perceived community and educational needs.

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA):  Mr. Rice served as advisor to the local PTA which provided the only readily available support to the school and its teachers.  He provided training to the officers regarding their roles and responsibilities, project management and implementation skills, and human resource management.

School Construction and Repair:  Prior to Mr. Rice's arrival, primary school classes (300 students) were given in two school buildings, one of which was unfinished.  The school's nine classes were held in three classrooms, with children attending either in the morning or the afternoon.  The classrooms offered little ventilation and less lighting.  Through the efforts of the PTA leaders and Mr. Rice's guidance, the defects in the original building were made less cumbersome, the second building was finished, and a third was built.  This last contains two classrooms and is a model of more adequate space per student, ventilation and lighting; it should provide an example for further constructions as well as repairs to the other buildings.  The repairs to the original building were financed through fundraising activities at the local level, whereas the two constructions combined local and regional fundraising and assistance from the United States Agency for International Development.  The community donated 36% of total project costs through cash and in-kind donations, including their donated labor.

Federation of PTAs:  Mr. Rice was part of a ten-member team whose responsibilities were to provide guidance and training to the PTAs of the school district's 90 schools.  Training sessions were given to representatives from these schools, dealing with the roles of members and officers, fundraising and project management skills.  Due to the effectiveness of this project, Mr. Rice and his counterpart were invited by Peace Corps/Dominican Republic and Dominican educational authorities to replicate this project in a neighboring school district.

Didactic Materials Resource Center:  Mr. Rice served as an advisor to one of the Ministry of Education's teacher training institutions.  Overseeing the administration and participating in various training workshops, he was able to train his Dominican counterpart in administering the Center, aid in the on-going educational reform movement, and increase the local educational community's interest and participation in the Resource Center program.  He facilitated five one-day workshops addressing participatory education, the incorporation and use of didactic materials in the classroom, and the production of simple, easily replicable low-cost teaching aids.  Mr. Rice provided follow-up to assist his community's teachers with the utilization of their materials, as well as providing outreach to other schools to address questions and problems with the program.

Women's Development Committee:  Mr. Rice provided guidance and resources to 14 women and helped them organize a series of workshops on nutrition, AIDS, and pregnancy.  His efforts in directing a fundraising campaign resulted in the purchase of a sewing machine which gave the women access to an income generating opportunity.

Development Committee:  Mr. Rice worked closely with the community's Development Committee and helped them hold a town meeting which included representatives from various government institutions.  The committee was able to widen and repair the town's main road which allowed for easier and more safe access to farms and houses.

Project Management:  Mr. Rice assisted all the above mentioned community groups in needs prioritization, project planning, project monitoring and evaluation, and feasibility assessment.  His focus was to empower the leaders and leave them with the confidence and skills necessary to perform these activities completely on their own.

Fundraising:  Mr. Rice guided the groups in conducting many replicable fundraising activities, taking advantage of resources at the local and regional level.  He also advised the PTA and Women's Development committee on how to solicit funding at the regional, national and international levels from government and non-governmental institutions.  He trained the treasurers to keep accurate records of funds.

Leadership training:  Mr. Rice provided individual members of the above groups with informal leadership training.  He helped them identify good leadership strategies, common errors of leaders, and positive ways of utilizing human resources.

Mr. Rice was a member of the Peace Corps/DR Women in Development Committee, and he also assisted the Health Committee by translating for three, week-long plastic surgery clinics.  These clinics were sponsored by American medical doctors and organized by Peace Corps Volunteers.  Mr. Rice's high level of Spanish and his understanding of Dominican culture greatly contributed to the success of these clinics, and his and other Volunteer's efforts were recognized by the American medical staff.

Mr. Rice extended his service for four months beyond the two year commitment in order to supervise three other Didactic Materials Resource Centers and continue his school construction project.  Mr. Rice planned and participated in ten teacher training workshops and trained the three Dominican nationals in basic, double-entry accounting.  He provided the support and planning assistance necessary for a fourth Center to begin functioning.  Mr. Rice worked with other Volunteers in the area to plan activities and give workshops in AIDS education, environmental awareness and teacher training.  He motivated his former community to utilize its new skills in proposal writing and fundraising to solicit the national government for assistance and to conduct several local fundraising activities.

signed:     Michael H. Hirsh, Country Director                Date:  March 14, 1997
                Peace Corps/Dominican Republic