By Jose Angel, Peace Corps Volunteer in Bahoruco
Since 1962, more than 4,792 Volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic. There are currently 187 Volunteers serving in 19 Provinces working in three technical project areas: Community Economic Development, Child Literacy and Youth Development. Volunteers live and work in communities for two years as part of their public service. For Hispanic Heritage Month, meet our volunteers of Latino descent who are in the Dominica Republic.
My name is Jose Angel and I was born in Houston, Texas in the 90s. I grew up in Inner City Houston on the Northside in a neighborhood called Little York. I spent most of my childhood growing up in inner city Houston until I moved on to the university where I spent 4 years living in Galesburg, Illinois.
Before joining the Peace Corps I worked as a maintenance worker, landscape/construction worker, Delivery Driver for UPS, farmer, academic researcher and school tutor. I currently work as a primary literacy promoter in the education sector, working closely with teachers, students and administrators at a public school in Bahoruco. At the beginning of my service, I focused my efforts on helping organize the classroom for tutoring, starting literature programs, and teaching USA culture/language courses to professionals/University students.
Both my parents immigrated to the United States in 1984 searching for better job opportunities. My parents moved to Houston, Texas after leaving central México and till this day still live in the same neighborhood that they moved into when they first arrived in the city of Houston. Both my parents soon after arriving found jobs; my father was a maintenance worker at an apartment complex and my mother was a cleaning lady for the local public elementary school. After a few years of employment, my parents made the decision to invest in a house since their family was slowly growing.
I grew up in an urban neighborhood on the Northside of Houston. My neighborhood forms part of Harris County which is currently the largest in the country. Our neighbors were mostly African American/Black and Latino working class families that lived mostly check to check. Over the years, my neighborhood remains mainly the same as when I was growing up.
I decided to join the Peace Corp because it was an idea I had while I was traveling through Mexico during my childhood years; the majority of my family lives in México and I learned through their experiences that there are different worlds outside of the one I was living in. I would tell myself growing up, that I had a responsibility to use what I was given to help others like the ones I would see not only in the poorest of neighborhoods in the USA but also others around the world.
My proudest moments of service have been those spent with my community members. I have always appreciated the social gatherings that I am invited to in my community; It has taken some time to feel at home in my community, but the moments I have shared with my friends and coworkers I will always cherish. I have always considered education and sustainable development as two primary fields I would like to work in as my professional journey continues. The Peace Corps is providing experience which will help me accomplish that in the long run.