Read the Peace Corps volunteer’s account below in “Jogging Alone” about the way in which persons in the Dominican Republic misunderstood an American volunteer who was doing something that in the United States is normal:
When I first arrived in my village in the Dominican Republic, I began to have a problem with my morning jogging routine. I used to jog every day when I was home in the United States, so when I arrived in my village in the Dominican Republic, I set myself a goal to continue jogging two miles every morning. I really liked the peaceful feeling of jogging alone as the sun came up. But this did not last for long. The people in my village simply couldn’t understand why someone would want to run alone. Soon people began to appear at their doorways offering me a cup of coffee; others would invite me to stop in for a visit. Sometimes this would happen four or five times as I tried to continue jogging. They even began sending their children to run behind me so I wouldn’t be lonely. They were unable to understand the American custom of exercising alone. I was faced with a dilemma. I really enjoyed my early morning runs. However, I soon realized that it’s considered impolite in Dominican villages not to accept a cup of coffee, or stop and chat, when you pass people who are sitting on their front steps. I didn’t want to give up jogging. But, at the same time, I wanted to show respect for the customs of the Dominican Republic – and not be viewed as odd or strange.
From: Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding Coverdell World Wise Schools
Pretend that you are the Peace Corps volunteer in this situation and write a letter home to a parent describing the incident and how it was resolved. You must use the checklist below to compose a proper letter home.
Checklist for the letter home
o You described the jogging incident in a factual manner.
o You described your needs and feelings.
o You described the needs and feelings of the Dominicans in a way that is respectful of their culture.
o You explained what you did to resolve the problem in a way that is respectful to the Dominican culture.
o You used proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.
o Your letter home must be a typed, single-spaced, one-page letter containing several paragraphs written in logical order.
o It must be composed as a formal letter, starting with your name and address at the top left corner, followed by the date, then the name and address of the recipient, then the salutation, then the body of the letter, then your name and valediction to close the letter.