Justin Lee ’08
“Service is something that Redlands supports and prides itself on."
Going as far as imagination and talent will allow
During his third year at the University of Redlands, Justin Lee (Class of 2008) studied in Barcelona, Spain. He says that experience—along with his involvement in the diversity-based brotherhood RYG—captured his imagination and made him realize that he wanted to share his talents within a dramatically different culture.
Consequently, Justin is doing exactly that through his Peace Corps assignment in the town of Bahoruco, located on the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic.
Justin’s primary assignment is to work with an artisan association that produces jewelry made out of larimar, a rare stone only found in the Dominican Republic.
“The mine is 17 kilometers from my site, so I get to learn about the whole process from the mine to the workshop to the customers’ hands,” he explains.
The student becomes teacher
In addition to his primary assignment, Justin also had a chance to pursue other projects he feels passionate about, including teaching a youth business course, where students develop a business plan that is entered into a national Peace Corps competition.
Justin also has taught sex-education classes, taken local children to camps and conferences, staged an art camp, organized a medical mission, worked as a translator on another medical mission, and given English classes to interested locals.
While he recognizes the value of his efforts in the Bahoruco community, he says he has gotten back even more than he has given.
“It’s definitely been an invaluable experience,” he said. “I’ve learned an entirely different skill set since being here. You really have to put yourself outside your comfort zone, but it’s entirely worth it. I knew some Spanish coming in, but I definitely know way more than I ever did. People in my community now say I’m Dominican. I even learned how to dance Bachata and Merengue!”
Justin hopes that his experience will inspire other Bulldogs to continue to serve the community as alumni. "I've always thought University of Redlands students and alumni should consider joining the Peace Corps because service is something that Redlands supports and prides itself on."