• The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not in any way reflect the views and opinions of the United States Peace Corps, the United States government, or any other organization I might comment upon.

Slow Summer Days

I realized this past week that it has been awhile since I updated my blog (7 weeks to be specific).  I guess I haven’t really felt like writing because not much is going on and the heat makes me not want to do anything.

To start off with the Jamaican weather has been hot and AC does not exist in the office or my home.  I was so happy the day I got a fan for my room, which is always a few degrees hotter than anywhere else in the house because of its design.  I like the days when it rains because then it is cooler and somewhat manageable.

Work is going slowly…and by slowly I mean that nothing is happening most days.  The other day while I sat on my computer working on a Peace Corps project, my co-workers took a nap.  Jamaican schools let out for the summer last week, so there is really nothing to have to worry about, except for the occasional 4-H or Peace Corps meeting.  My supervisor, Mr. Anderson, wants me to work on a brochure explaining organic farming.  I could easily get it done in two days, but figure I should take my time.  I am going to help a local PCV develop a nature trail for a hotel in the area.  And I may spend the summer visiting some of the other PCVs assigned with 4-H to get ideas on projects.  I may also spend some time with PCVs assigned to groups that are doing food processing projects, since Mr. Anderson seems to be serious about this agro-processing project…though he hasn’t gotten me any of the information yet.

I still like my host family.  The granddaughter, Carla, finished her internship last week so she is now home.  She is exactly like my sister, Erika; same age and same personalities.  For those of y’all who don’t know my sister, Erika (and similarly Carla) has a very outgoing personality and knows/gets to know everyone in an area.  The other evening, Carla, Carlos and I had a singing/dance-off among the three of us; I should stress that I cannot and do not enjoy dancing.

Community integration is going well.  Most of the older people in Drapers talk to me.  My host mother’s school children (3 to 5 year olds) like to hang out and help me with chores (not surprisingly the chores usually take twice as long, but I don’t mind the company).

For those of you interested in sending me care packages, I’m going to post a list of things I would like to receive or that I need.

Official Peace Corps Volunteer!!

I know it has been over a month since my last post.  I have been busy and exhausted by training. 

Thankfully last Friday, I had my swearing-in ceremony and am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer.  Beforehand I was just a trainee with very little freedom. Though to the present volunteers, I am still considered a newbie.  In other news, I have been in Jamaica for exactly two months.

I am excited to start some projects at work.  My supervisor wants me to work with him on food processing for different 4-H produced goods and goat revolving and rearing (meaning that some schools start with goats and pass the goat babies to other schools).  These are somewhat big projects.  So I want to got some small projects…I don’t know what…, developed over the summer and implemented by the start of school (Sept.).  I’m hoping to get training over the summer in different agricultural areas.

Community integration is going slowly.  There are not many females in their early 20’s but there are many guys.  It has been suggested that I go to church in the community a few times.

Anyways I don’t need to rush anything.  I have two years to work on getting things done.

I’ll start posting some cultural differences and similarities I’m finding as I get time.

Easter in Jamaica

Hey everyone!! Wat a gwaan? (How are things going?) I hope everyone had a good Easter holiday; here in Jamaica, Good Friday and Easter Monday are national holidays…so no work.

Speaking of work, I have been placed in Port Antonio, Portland (northeast coast of Jamaica) working with the Portland 4-H Club, a parish branch of the Jamaica 4-H Club. The motto of Jamaica 4-H is “to make the best better.” The Jamaica 4-H seems to be similar to the U.S. 4-H clubs; they even have the same symbols. Within Portland 4-H club, I will be responsible for implementing schools gardens and starting up sustainable projects, such as jam-making.

I haven’t actually spent much time in the 4-H office because Portland 4-H had their parish youth expo, which allows the students from parish schools to showcase their various achievements. The youth expo was held the Wednesday after I got into Port Antonio. It was enjoyable seeing all the students and the assortment of products that they had made from their garden vegetables.
So far Jamaica has been wonderful. I am homesick, but I’ve also been keeping somewhat busy by leisure reading and going through training materials. This is a beautiful island…everyone (from Portland) tells me that Portland is the most beautiful parish of all and has the best jerk chicken/pork. Also I’m walking distance from some beautiful beaches. Port Antonio is not an overly huge tourist city, like Montego Bay or Negril.

I actually live about 8 km from Port Antonio. My host family here is extremely nice. They consist of my host mother, Mrs. Noreen who is the teacher of the basic school, my host father, Mr. George who is a local farmer and amazing cook and lastly their grandson, Carlos. I actually went to one of the beaches the other day with Mrs. Noreen’s school group, which has 3 girls and 2 boys. Within the house, I have my own bedroom and my own bathroom. We usually have water and electricity, but it is not uncommon to have water shortages for a day or two (so far the longest has been half a day).

Public transportation is something that I will have to get accustomed to. It isn’t too difficult to get taxis into and out of Port Antonio, but it is common to fit as many people into a taxi or minibus. When I went to the beach with the school kids, there was a person in the front seat, 3 adults in the backseat with 4 children in laps, and an adult and a child in the kitchen (the trunk). So 10 people, not counting the driver. That was an uncomfortable 20 minutes.

I should hopefully have more regular access to the internet at work, so I’ll try posting later…probably in a week or two. Before I forget, I do have a cell phone in Jamaica. The cell phone company offers an international plan, but I haven’t gotten it yet due to complete and utter chaos. If you would like my cell phone number or want me to call you when I finally get the international plan (will probably wait another month or so until after the swearing in ceremony), email me or facebook message me. I am not going to post my number on my blog for security reasons.

Kingston, Jamaica

I’m in Jamaica, mon!!

So the past two days have been information-filled and long.  We’ve been going over important topics and policy, such as safety, medical and movement around country.

They have also been fun.  We had a group dinner last night.  They served ‘rice and peas (red beans)’, jerk chicken, escoveitched fish, potato salad, and some type of vegetarian entree.  It was all delicious.  We had the same thing tonight for dinner.

This morning we had our official Peace Corps welcome.  They had a local performing arts group come and sing some songs.  I recorded them to my camera and just have to figure out how to post them to this blog…I may have to create a youtube account to post them on youtube and link them on this blog.

The people in my training group (we are group 80!) and the staff at Peace Corps Jamaica are wonderful and extremely nice.  We are divided into three volunteer programs: Green Initiative (which I’m a part of), Youth as Promised, and Community Education in Health.

Tomorrow we leave to start our community-based training, where I will meet my host family for training in Hellshire.

I’m going to try to post pictures to my Flicker account (and link on here) hopefully in the next week or two…depends on whether I’ll have internet access at my host family’s house.

The Adventure Begins

If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll thank you for all the things you did in my life
If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight
Wherever I am you’ll always be
More than just a memory
If I ever leave this world alive

I leave tomorrow morning for Miami, FL, where everything will be prepared before leaving the States.  On Wednesday, I’m bound for Jamaica and the major start to my new life abroad for 26 months.  The first 2 months are training (learning the culture, language, etc.); if I pass the final exam for training, then I will officially be a Peace Corp Volunteer!!

From what I have been told, training is suppose to be intense and time-consuming.  So I don’t know how often I will be getting online…I’ll atleast try to let everyone know as soon as I settle in (my take a few weeks) what is going on.  Hopefully I’ll end up someplace where I’ll have access to the internet because my goal is to update this blog atleast once a month.

Anyways, have to finish packing the last few minor things!!

~Anne

Drunken Lullabies

Last night my sister and I went to the Flogging Molly concert at the Tabernacle.  My sister and I ended up standing in the pit, somewhat front and center of the stage.  My sister has been to many concerts and stood in the pit numerous times; this was my first time in the pit.

Flogging Molly had two opening bands.  The first one kinda sucked.  The second one (Aggrolites) wasn’t too bad.  They played a reggae-version of “Don’t Let me Down” that was pretty cool.

Before Flogging Molly got on the stage, the only advice my sister gave me was “watch yourself.”  During the first song, I had the breathe knocked out of me by being crushed into the guy in front of me, almost had an elbow hit me in the face and got kicked in the back of the head by a crowd surfer.  I realized that I wasn’t really prepared to be in the pit and that I had better learn quickly.

Thankfully the guys around me watched my back and made sure I wasn’t dragged into the body slamming area.  It didn’t take me long to learn how to move with the crowd while still holding my own.

I came out of the concert with a visible bruise on my right foot and pain between my shoulder blades (where some jackass decided to dig his palm during the last two songs).

Although I felt extremely out of my element standing in the pit, by the end of the concert I was having fun and enjoying the music.  So, will I ever go to a concert and stand in the pit again?  Possibly, depends on the band playing.

~Anne

The Waiting Place

I started the Peace Corps process barely over a year ago.  Patience has been a huge virtue for this process.  In 30 days, I leave for Jamaica to be a part of the Green Initiative Program.  I’ve been using this waiting time to look over Jamaican language, history and geography…and stress out about packing.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my friends!!  *hugs and kisses*

~Anne

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