Dominican Republic | Benjamin Rietmann
Home: Condon, Oregon
Photo: Build your dreams: Ben with two students who competed in the Peace Corps "Construye tus Sueños" competition, where they presented business plans trying to win seed money to start businesses. The young woman wants to make and sell yogurt, and the young man wants to start a hardware store.
I’m from a small town in eastern Oregon. I was in the community economic development sector, working with an association of dairy farmers and teaching entrepreneurship to high school-age students. We held the Construye tus Sueños competition — Build Your Dreams — where they presented business plans trying to win seed money to start businesses.
When we were evacuated, I left behind friends and project partners with whom I’d worked to build relationships over the past year. I left behind students who had yet to finish my entrepreneurship and personal finance programs. I left behind my dog, house, furniture.
We held the Construye tus Sueños competition — Build Your Dreams — where they presented business plans trying to win seed money to start businesses.
I was helping several dairy farmers to organize and better understand their finances. I was helping the association administrator learn more computer skills, and I was creating an annual budget for the association. I was helping a students start their own business making yogurt and other dairy projects. Much of what I was doing seemed promising.
Got milk? The dairy association collection center where Benjamin was working, in process of having a second story built on the building. Photo by Benjamin Rietmann
Coming back to the U.S., I was fortunate to have a place to stay and a family to provide for me during quarantine. As I write this, I’m unsure if I’ll be able to return to Peace Corps service, unsure if I’ll be able to get a job during the pandemic, unsure what the future holds.
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