One of the most effective and interesting ways to help Americans understand the people and culture of the Dominican Republic, in other words, focus on Peace Corps' Third Goal, is to be involved in local organizations and activities. Many avenues are available to you, such as addressing high school and college students, faith based groups, and professional associations about your PC experience. Here are two unique organizations you may find in your community.
United Nations Association (UNA)
First, you can join the local United Nations Association (UNA) of the USA. The UNA-USA is the largest nonpartisan, foreign policy association with 176 chapters and 25,000 members around the country.
The main goals of UNA are to:
- focus attention upon the myriad of international issues, how they impact people in the community, and identify the logical role of the UN in alleviating the problem;
- be a constructive critic of the United Nations to assist it to become a more efficient and effective institution; and,
- encourage the United States Government to be an active, involved leader at the UN.
The UNA is not part of the UN; however, UNA members realize that the UN is one of the most important international organizations that bring the 191 countries of the world together to hopefully resolve problems peacefully. The UN provides major services such as resolving thorny international conflicts, enhancing human rights, promoting economic and social development, battling environmental degradation and diseases, curtailing drug abuse, and assisting refugees, as well as working diligently to draft the rules to move aircraft, ships, mail and weather information safely around the globe.
There is a logical PC tie-in with the UN, given that the UN is operating in virtually every country where there are Peace Corps Volunteers. The UNA is not a cheering team for the UN; however, it does wish to help the public better understand this indispensable, yet imperfect, institution. For more information on the UN and UNA-USA, go to the following websites: www.un.org and www.unausa.org
A second organization that is an excellent avenue to share your experiences is with the local Rotary Club. The local club is part of Rotary International (RI), which has 1.2 million members and 32,000 clubs in 167 countries. Although most of the Rotary clubs involve themselves with local educational and community projects, there are opportunities to be part of an international project.
Following are a few examples of potential international projects. Some Rotary Clubs:
1. Work closely with the local United Nations associations on projects, such as UN Day or monthly programs that have international themes.
2. Coordinate with Sister Cities Programs. An example would be with Frankfort, Kentucky and San Pedro de Macorís in the DR that have a vibrant educational and cultural exchange programs.
3. RI encourages its clubs to be involved in World Community Services Projects, such as humanitarian programs by providing medical equipment, assisting orphans, etc. The Frankfort Rotary Club and 7 other central Kentucky Rotary Clubs have raised $10,000.00 to develop potable water projects for four bateys in San Pedro de Macorís. Many of the locals have to travel 3 miles to retrieve their water.
4. RI has been a major partner of the United Nations in projects to eradicate polio, assist refugees, overcome adult illiteracy, etc.
5. Rotary also has programs for students to study overseas and young professionals to visit with their colleagues in other countries.
There is a whole myriad of international projects that might be of interest to you as you bring the Third Goal of PC home. For more information about Rotary International, contact www.rotary.org
You made a difference overseas. Now, you can make a difference in your community. Check it out.
For more information, contact Bill Miller, Peace Corps, DR-25, email@example.com, 502-223-0512