A Day in the Life of a Santiaguera
Abstract: Get a sneak-peek into the life of a genuine Santiaguera. A Santiaguera is someone who lives in Santiago. Hear all about her job, her home and how she lives every day in the beautiful island nation she calls home.
Introduction: Have you ever wondered how other people live their lives? This week, I sat down to interview one of my coworkers and peek into her daily life in Santiago. I learned new things about her as well as about life and culture in the Dominican Republic. Part of the reason I’m here in the Dominican Republic is to engage in mutual, or cross cultural, exchange. That means that while learning about the Dominican Republic from Dominicans, I also want to teach others about American life and culture. This interview was a perfect opportunity for cross cultural exchange. How do you think you can engage in cross cultural exchange in your community?
What is your full name?
My coworker’s full name is Judit Esther Peralta Jimenez. Her first last name, “Peralta,” comes from her father. Her second last name, “Jimenez,” comes from her mother. It is traditional for Dominicans to have two last names, one from the mother and one from the father.
Where do you live? What is your house like?
Judit lives in a comfortable, spacious apartment in the Los Jardines neighborhood of Santiago. Her apartment has excellent views of the city and the monument to fallen soldiers that is located in the city center. Judit lives with one of her sisters and her mother. It is common here for children to live with their parents until marriage.
What is your family like?
Judit has a big family. This is very is common in the Caribbean and other parts of Latin America. Many members of her extended family live in the nearby town of Moca. Moca is located about 15 miles east of Santiago. Judit also has many relatives in the United States, but she has never been to the U.S. before.
Judit spends a lot of time with her mom and sister. They all love to drink coffee and watch American television shows such as Friends and Revenge together. Judit also like to crochet with her family. The day of this interview, she was wearing a set of crochet earrings that she had made herself! How does Judit’s family compare to American families?
How do you get around?
Although Judit knows how to drive, she doesn’t have a car of her own. Having a car is a big financial commitment, and she’d like to wait until she is older to have one. Judit mostly gets around in taxis. Sometimes she drives other people’s cars. Her sister’s car was recently stolen, so she now borrows her mom’s car.
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
Judit is very fashionable and wears all sorts of clothes. “What I wear depends on my mood,” she said. She loves wearing beach clothes and high heels. She describes her fashion as “crazy.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
Judit is very active. She does yoga at home. She also likes to run at the local university. Why do you think it’s important to stay active? When she’s not exercising, you can find Judit crocheting with her family or reading books. “I like useful books that make me think,” Judit said. In particular, she loves to read historical and spiritual books.
What language(s) do you speak? How do you say “Hello” in your language?
Judit speaks English and Spanish. She loves to speak English with me so that she can practice the language. Also, she gets to hear an American perspective on events while I get to hear a Dominican perspective. Why do you think it’s important to learn about the perspective of people different from us?
“Hola” (OH-lah) means “Hello” in Spanish.
Do you have pets?
Though Judit likes pets, her family doesn’t have any. Her sister is allergic to most animals. Maybe she should get a goldfish!
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?
Judit has traveled a bit and would love to travel more. She visited Mexico for a convention for the broadcasting network Televisa. She has also traveled on vacation to Costa Rica, a country located in Central America. She’s traveled all around her home country, including to the Haitian-Dominican border.
What do you do for work?
Judit is in charge of communications as well as the Department of Arts and Culture at the language institute where we work. She also has a radio show with three of her friends. The show is on five nights a week. It provides a fresh, young perspective on a variety of issues from current events to cultural happenings.
Is there anything else you would like to say to students in the United States?
The one thing Judit asks of all America students is to not stereotype Dominicans. Real Dominicans are very different from the Dominicans portrayed in television, movies and music. “I live for this country,” Judit said. “I love Santiago. Come to our country and be open” about the experience, she suggests. She wants Americans to visit, see the beach, talk to people and understand what the real Dominican Republic is all about.
What kind of things did you learn reading about Judit, and why do you think it’s important to learn about the lives of people different from us?