Dedicating a Year to the Dominican Republic
Written by Plant With Purpose on August 16, 2016 in Staff Spotlight, The People Behind the Purpose
July 2016 marked the beginning of Taylor’s adventure to the Dominican Republic as the first Field Communications Fellow. For 12 months, Taylor will work alongside Plant With Purpose staff in Piedra Blanca where he will spend much of his time collecting and writing stories of empowerment, assisting the local team with annual objectives, and developing local fundraising capacity.
We are beyond excited to have Taylor forge the path of our international fellowship program. Read on to learn why he is the perfect fit and hear in his own words what he looks forward to over this next year.
*Taylor (on the right) with Mario Almonte, one of Plant With Purpose Dominican Republic’s agronomists.
In March 2016, in the heat of an intensive job hunt, I received an unforgettable phone call from Plant With Purpose. I had known for several days to expect this very call, but despite all former preparation upon seeing the number on my caller ID my mind went blank. I painfully crawled my way through small talk, and when I heard, “We’d like to offer you the field communications fellowship in the Dominican Republic,” I had to pull myself out of a long and awkward pause to register what I had just heard. For the first time in my life, I finally realized what it felt like to receive the offer for my dream job.
In the months of preparation and my week-long orientation all my built-up romanticism transformed into the reality of what I was accepting for an entire year. And now that I’m finally here, living and working in the Dominican Republic, I still get excited daily to realize all that I get to do: interviewing partnering farmers, capturing stories and photos, assisting with local fundraising and marketing, hosting visiting groups, and serving the U.S. and Dominican offices in any way I can.
Fancy title and jargon aside, however, I’ve learned to look at my role mainly as facilitating relationships.
Relationship is already a common buzzword of Plant With Purpose, but not without reason. Through a holistic education and training, communities around the world are succeeding in reversing deforestation and rural poverty. And Plant With Purpose takes great pride in a relationship that celebrates the partnering farmers responsible for this transformation. But these victories are meant to be shared. Therefore, donors and supporters are also invited to join in celebrating these successes as well.
And now, with the creation of an international communications fellowship, my purpose is to capture stories of success that make the distance between supporters and the field even closer.
I first fell in love with this culture of storytelling as a grant-writing intern with Plant With Purpose during my senior year at Point Loma Nazarene University. Pursuing a degree in writing, I delighted in searching through the story database for just the right testimony to include in foundation applications and reports.
By the end of my internship, as well as my undergraduate studies, I was finally well aware of the strength of storytelling paired with sustainable development. I desired to hear and collect these transformational stories in order to share with those that needed to hear them.
When it comes to collecting and sharing transformational stories, especially within the context of poverty and environmental degradation, it’s crucial to search for God’s presence and the greater story that’s being told; the story of redemption between creator and creation. Through the mission and programs of Plant With Purpose, partnering farmers are empowering themselves and each other to reconcile their relationships with each other, with God, and creation. That’s certainly a story worth sharing.
I’m honored to share a small part in this story for a full year in the Dominican Republic and once more work alongside the incredible network of Plant With Purpose personnel motivated by God’s love. I’m thrilled for this unique opportunity to continue learning and strengthening my storytelling and photography proficiency, marketing skills, and organizational experience. I’m excited to have an immersive cross-cultural experience and improve my Spanish. And most of all, I’m grateful for the relationships I’ll experience with farmers and community members, staff, my host family, donors, and new friends here in the Dominican Republic.