On November 9-11, 2011, Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) hosted their annual conference in Chicago. At the heart of this bilingual event was the question of how to use social media to amplify public service; a lofty goal that I saw in action on a volunteer vacation in the Dominican Republic this past summer.
In July, I accompanied my children to Monte Cristi, a Dominican province on Haiti’s border, to help set up a sustainable development project sponsored by LATISM. At the beginning, the project was more of a wish for change in a community beset with severe poverty rather than a concrete plan. I even worried that it was a disorganized mess, as we spent much of the first week organizing and solving logistical problems.
But in working together to help set up the project, the result was better than anything anyone could have imagined. Together, we were able to identify real needs and to match up individual strengths. My kids were excited to be able to share their passions – one for manga, the other for skimboarding – with local children. And I was thrilled to share my expertise in travel writing with a community that was looking to improve their tourism trade. A win, win for all.
Even better, this grassroots movement will live on well beyond the initial volunteer vacation phase in an ongoing partnership between local activists and online supporters.
To learn more about LATISM, and how you can be a part of this and other service projects, visit http://blog.latism.org. Or, click the following link to find out more about our family adventure in the Dominican Republic.
Sandra Foyt is a freelance journalist and travel blogger, specializing in fun and educational family travel on www.AlbanyKid.com, who writes to inspire lifelong learners to change the world. You can connect with her on Twitter at @SandraFoyt or look for her page on Facebook.