Renzo’s Internship with Jose Ramon

11 Feb

Renzo was lucky enough to land an internship with a family friend who is a pharmacist here in Santiago.  His name is Jose Ramon and he works with both conventional and natural medicines.  He is the owner of a pharmacy (Farmacia Jorge) and a laboratory where they manufacture products (Laborotorio Espinal Roman or LER for short).  It’s not often you find pharmacies in the States where the bulk of the stock is manufactured in-house, so it is definitely a really unique and special opportunity for Renzo to have the opportunity to train with him.

Farmacia Jorge

Jose Ramon

Jose Ramon’s story is quite remarkable.  He began working at Farmacia Jorge when he was just a young boy.  He started off as a delivery boy, eventually went on to attain degrees in pharmacology and alternative medicine, and now he owns the place!

He got to know Renzo’s family delivering medications to his grandmother’s house many years ago.  His grandmother would always offer him bread and hot chocolate, and other things to eat.  He never forgot her kindness and remained a good friend of the family.

Farmacia Jorge is a really fun place to walk around and explore. They make a wide selection of products there- everything from essential oils and aspirin to vitamins and beauty creams.

Here are a few more pics:

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So far Renzo has been learning to use the equipment and has been helping along with the other interns to package products, etc.  He is hoping he’ll get to make a product from his own formula sometime soon.  Exciting stuff…more updates in the coming days…

xo A


La Vereda Art Class #4: Watercolor Paintings of “What We Love”

3 Feb

This past week we resumed our art class after a two week hiatus.  Luz asked if we’d want to host it on Monday instead of Saturday because the children had the day off.  We did, but for some reason most of the girls were missing that day.  I’ll have to see what happened this week; maybe they didn’t find out the schedule had changed.

In any case,  I had been planning and preparing for awhile to work with the children on making wood sculptures.  Robert was kind enough to get some wood scraps for free but he hadn’t had a chance to cut the pieces down yet so we reverted to Plan B.  I had picked up some watercolors and watercolor paper when I was in Florida last week, and I thought it would be fun for the children to have a chance to draw and paint.  In thinking about an engaging motivation for the lesson, I looked ahead to what I hope will be the culmination of my work with the children- a public mural designed and painted by them in their neighborhood.  I thought the theme of “what we love” would be inspiring and easily accessible to all the kids and might provide a springboard for our mural in the coming weeks.  When the children arrived we asked them to write down 5 things they love- it could be an object, place, person, event, action- basically anything.

Here are some of their lists:

sweets, lollipop, juice, chicken, coconut

lollipop, ice cream, bicycle, trucks, pistols

Dad, coconut, bicycle, car, orange

juice, orange, chicken, dog, ball

Not surprisingly our student Miguel who arrived to class sucking on a paleta (it’s how you say lollipop in DR, but it literally translates as “reed”) inspired many of the children to “remember” that they love paletas so that showed up on lots of lists, haha!  The children are also very fond of chicken (obviously a staple of the Dominican diet, but also a special takeout treat that is economical enough for many to afford), oranges (I need to ask the children where they are getting their oranges because every orange I’ve tried here so far has been meh…not so tasty), and coconuts (si!  hooray for coconuts!).  It was fun to read the children’s lists and ask them about the things they really like and love.  I’m not completely sure but it seems like the group isn’t really used to being asked such questions.  This type of question from a teacher seems to be a new experience for the kids.  Sometimes they seem a little embarrassed or shy at first, but then they seem to enjoy the opportunity to express an idea of such personal interest to them.

The children were given sharpie markers to make a drawing of something (or more than one thing) they love.  It could be from their list, or it could be something else they didn’t put on their list.  After they made their drawings we put out watercolors so the children could add color to their drawings.

Here are some pictures from our class:






Some finished paintings:

"Coconut, apple, cup of juice" -Miguel

"Chicken, apple, cup, rocket, car." -Luis Eduardo

"Sun, coconut, cookie, spongebob, orange, and a car." -Brayan

"Robot & Spongebob" -Guillermo

Briley's Painting

"Ice cream. I like the red." -Onasis

"I made a waterfall. It's similar to a beach by a river." -Diana

We like to celebrate our work too:

Smiles & Paintings!

Check out our marvelous paintings!

This weekend our class will hopefully be working on wood sculptures…and I hope to start working on the mural project with the children very soon.  Will keep you updated!

xo A

El Dia de la Virgen de la Altagracia

3 Feb

Two weeks ago our art class was cancelled because of a Dominican national holiday known as El Dia de La Virgen de la Altagracia.  It’s a day where people celebrate the Virgin Mary.  There’s a parade with homemade floats, and lots of little kids dressed up in suits and ball gowns.  Plenty of cars and motoconchos follow the parade procession to the local church where there is a shrine set up with flowers, candles, and pictures of the Virgin.  The church serves food and puts up decorations (so do some local businesses).

Here are some images from the event:

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It was fun to get a small glimpse into a festive event here.  I’m REALLY excited to attend some of the Carnaval events that I’ve been told will begin this month!

xo A