It is difficult to know how and what to communicate “life updates” effectively with you. I have come to realize that being a Peace Corps Volunteer is almost like living a double life. In one life we live in work mode, dutifully doing what we can to fulfill the Peace Corps’ 3 goals and be a positive influence in our working community. In the other life, we live in sanity survival mode. We have days spent locking ourselves inside and weekends traveling away from site. The two lives meet somewhere in the middle, occasionally one blending into the other. As I have been at site only for six weeks now, most of what I want to write to you about falls in the sanity survival mode life.
Jamaica continues to surprise me. At first I did not sense much of a culture shock, mainly because I am guaranteed English wherever I go, and Jamaica is so close to the States that some of the culture bleeds over. Most Jamaicans have traveled abroad or have family abroad. However, I have recently come to realize that I have turned a blind eye to culture shock, and both of my Peace Corps lives have been easier to endure since accepting the reality of it. The place I experience the most culture shock is in my work life. The school system is very different here, aside from the basics (teachers, students, classrooms). More on that later.
|grade 4 & grade 6|
|my admirable counterpart playing "Red Light, Green Light" with grades 2-6|
For now I go to school only Monday through Thursday. On Fridays I typically go into my parish’s capital to use the Internet at the library, say hi to the ocean, and run errands.
|view from the library|
|THE parish church|
I spend most Saturdays with other volunteers who live relatively close to me. Jamaica has an endless amount of sites to see and things to do. Many locally owned attractions offer Peace Corps Volunteers discounts, local prices (as opposed to tourist prices), and a friendly smile. For this, we are ever thankful.
|Sunday barbeque with one of our PCJ staff|
|Playing in the river in Portland, near base of the Blue Mountains|
|chilling in Oraccabessa|
|walking around Portland|
As you might imagine, we create strong friendships with certain individuals in our training groups. Most Peace Corps Volunteers (worldwide) naturally end their service as best friends with the volunteers closest to them at site. However, we each have a few friendships from training that are impossible to move on from.
|Jedd & Michelle http://simplyintentional.wordpress.com|
|Cory & I both successfully completed 2 PC trainings. He actually completed a full term, too.|
|my PCJ "parents," Mike & Pat|
I do hope the above helps you relate better to this portion of my service. As an Education volunteer, there is not a lot on the summer calendar. I will be helping out with a summer camp at another volunteer’s site across the island, and perhaps one at my site-mate’s school. The school year starts over again on the first Monday in September.
I have found exercise critical to my mental health and am working toward the goal of a half-marathon in December. My host cousin runs with me on the weekends, which allows for a change in scenery (as there is only one route for me to go safely by myself).
Though I still find rice primarily revolting, I have been consuming it in small quantities. My host mother is of Indian descent and cooks the most delicious curry and other traditional Indian dishes. Of course they are all served with rice. But don’t expect me to come asking for it.
My host family continues to be a blessing. They celebrated my birthday with curry chicken and cake. Everyone came over for the evening and we ended the night by playing dominoes.
|4 of 5 of my host nieces/nephews|
|the family, minus 1 niece|
|they take very good care of me :)|