Friday, May 18, 2012

More than Thankful

I have been in Jamaica for almost 10 weeks now and have successfully completed Pre-Service Training with a group of 33 other volunteers. For this, I am more than thankful. This phase of service comes to a close this morning with a (rather anti-climactic) swearing-in ceremony. I will be off to my permanent site just an hour or two later and my first day of school is on Monday.

Many people wonder how this training has compared to my previous experience. The short answer is that comparing the two is similar to comparing apples to oranges. They're both fruit. They're both training. They both have a peel and seeds. There are PC mandated sessions for each training worldwide. Two major differences stand out to me this time: (1) I'm not under the influence of drugs, which had completely changed my perspective and attitude, and (2) I was able to--more or less--expect what was to come. The combination of these two realities proved for a rather smooth 10 weeks.

Highlights of training:
- living with two different Jamaican host families proved to me the diversity of personalities amongst Jamaicans.
- spending 5 weeks with only my Education sector for sector-specific training resulted in closer relationships.
- climbing Dunn's River Falls and playing the "tourist" in Ocho Rios (north coast) for a weekend.
- meeting new volunteers and continuing to build relationships amongst my co-workers here. There are some really incredible people to know in this context.

Philippians 4:13 & 14 is on my heart this morning:

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Site Placement

I'm not normally one to jump on the bandwagon, but in the interest of popular demand, I'm caving this time. This afternoon we found out our site placement (ideally) for the next two years. You may recall that my last site was Dongoro Ba, Lower River Region, The Gambia, West Africa. It was four hours up country down the South Bank Road (unpaved). My favorite things about that site were: (1) it was on the main road, and (2) I had 2 amazing site mates, Meghan and Catherine. It was only an added bonus that I was the village's fourth volunteer in the past 15 years.

My new site is: Rosend, St. Mary, Jamaica, West Indies. Go ahead Gambia volunteers. Call it as it is: Beach Corps. I will be working in a small school in a neighboring town. What I'm looking forward to most: being close to another awesome volunteer. A supervisor who's been said to be excellent. Finally, almost a year later, beginning my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

More to come...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pon di Road - Walking to Class in Pictures

Leaving my house, about 100 yards off the main road at about 7:30am. Class starts at 8am.

Picking up Michelle, who lives across the street

A shop on the corner. It's usually open in the afternoons. Text message Brandi: "coming :)".

Approaching Brandi's house

It's a daily battle to keep the dogs inside. Usually Rex (r) escapes and follows us the whole way.

I highly doubt this is followed.

This was empty our first two weeks here. Now it is noisy and smelly.

Michelle and Brandi passing a local hang out and shops.

The local high school: Ewarton High School

Just keep walking, just keep walking...

We can see the community center (training site), but still have 15 min to walk to get to the bottom of the hill

Abandoned, overgrown buildings are not a rare sight. Some look pretty enchanted.

Local bar. Not open at 7:45am.

Someone has been busy!

Sweet Impression is a local DJing service. Approaching the steepest part of the hill.

Mike & Pat have joined us.

The busiest part: the taxi park at the bottom of the hill.

And stray dogs. Everywhere.

Sign at entrance of Ewarton Community Center. That's right: It's about winning.

Morning traffic headed from Linstead to Ocho Rios

Bus stop

Ticket booth just at the entrance of the CC. They asked for their picture to be taken. Ok.

And we arrive: 7:55am.

Our trainer did an excellent job making a bland room into a classroom.

Pretty anti-climactic, but an accurate glimpse as to where I've spent most waking hours the past 5 weeks.