This week, Evelyn (E) - one of the Eco-Solution program participants – and I (S) interviewed our Dominican program leader, Carlos (C), on his experience working with CIEE, exchange students, and his perspective on the importance of understanding our local environment. Carlos is an engaging, gregarious character and has been our primary guide throughout the program. He is always open to answering questions
E: How long have you lived in Santiago?
C: Hello, good morning, I have lived in Santiago for 8 years.
E: What’s your favorite part about CIEE?
C: My favorite part is staying with the students, to do activities, and to learn about their development in this country. I specifically enjoy seeing students get to know different communities and have these experiences. This is a part of CIEE that I really love.
E: How have study abroad and international volunteers impacted your life?
C: They impacted my life in positive ways. The first and most important part is that I can improve my English and I can get to know new students. I feel happy because the students normally have energy. For me, the students “me motivan” – motivate me – to do a better job.
E: When did you start working for CIEE?
C: I started working with CIEE since 2010, but in 2010 it was not continuous work because I worked on a specific project, not like now, because now I work continuously with CIEE. So I have had a relationship with CIEE since 2010.
E: When did you first hear about Litro de Luz?
C: In 2016, I started a project with Liter of Light when I was the executive director of an organization in Santiago. So I came to learn about Liter of Light and other activities together with the Liter of Light organization
S: Why do you think the new Eco program is important for CIEE?
C: I think that the Eco program helps us all, not only the students, to have a better understanding of the realities in our communities and on our planet. Through the programs that we are developing, they (the students) can see and learn different strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change. Furthermore, the program enables them to better understand the “why” of our current reality and why the situation is so dire.
S: How is this related to what you studied?
C: It’s directly related because I studied ecology and environmental engineering. All of the eco programs are developed with the help of professionals like myself, so in addition to a CIEE program leader, the programs have a professional working in the field of ecology who understands the impacts of climate change and knows different methods to educate people on how to mitigate the environmental impacts of their actions.
S: What are some of these impacts in the Villa Gonzalez and El Limon communities (where the Eco-Solutions program has been working)?
C: The most significant regards rainfall. Before in Villa Gonzalez, it rained a lot and it rained consistently, but now, 90% of the rivers have dried up. Anyone who visits the community can see this. Another important factor is deforestation. Human activity has led to deforestation, which impacts the environment in other ways, such as reduction in rainfall and water availability in the community. Here (in Villa Gonzalez), there isn’t an aqueduct or public water system.
E: Is there anything else you would like to add?
C: I think this is a good opportunity for young people who come here to learn a lot, and that later on in life, if they are in a position where they can positively impact and change society, that they realize that they can do so. They have already known a certain reality in the Dominican Republic and seen some of the very real impacts of climate change. Otra pregunta (any other questions)?
E: What’s your favorite flavor of Helados Bon (a popular ice cream chain in the Dominican Republic)?
C: My favorite flavor is chocolate. Chocolate and Ron Pasa (Rum Raisin).
C: Siempre! (Always! – a common response to thank you in the DR)