In order to celebrate making the one-year mark, as well as a way to give readers a glimpse into what other volunteers do on the island, I present the “One Year Later” series. This series celebrates my fellow volunteers as they share what it feels like to make it to the one-year mark as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica. This is the third addition of the guest series, read the first “One Year Later” here, and second here. The final addition will be my personal thoughts on reaching the one year mark (let me think about that a little more).
I am an Education volunteer in Galina, St. Mary. As an education volunteer I work with grades 1st-3rd and 5th grade doing literacy pullouts working in small groups and one on one to improve reading skills and also recently started team teaching with the 1st-3rd grade teachers at my school which has been a great experience so far! Some secondary projects that I have started is an after-school homework club and implementing a library system at my school. I am also planning a week long summer camp for July and recently had my grant approved through Friends of Jamaica! :)
It feels weird in reaching the one year mark! I can remember it like it was yesterday sitting in training sessions, just getting to know all the other "strangers" in my group, and getting to know and feeling nervous about being immersed in the Jamaican culture. Now I am grateful that I have had this time to learn about the culture in which I love and met some of the most wonderful people in my community and beyond. Those strangers that were in my group are now considered my government issued family and are there for me whenever I need it. Moving forward I hope to continue integrating in my community, continue to build on the projects that my school and I have been working on, and also continue to learn new things about myself. I can say that having this experience have taught my many things personally that I know I will keep for a lifetime.
For people wanting to join Peace Corps/ the new group coming in or anyone who is interested. I would say come to Jamaica with an open mind and heart! There are a lot of "stereotypes" that people can perceive about Jamaica or even serving here in Jamaica. Yes we have beaches, yes we have amazing weather, and yes it is a paradise. It is a paradise because of the amazing Jamaicans you will meet and their incredible stories, it is a paradise because of the true nature from natural water to beautiful lands, and it is paradise because I am lucky along with so many others to call it home!
I am in Education Sector as a youth literacy adviser, and my secondary projects are helping to lead a youth mentoring club, and working with a local newspaper on cross cultural pieces.
It's surreal reaching my first year mark. Its gone by too fast. I love my work, it's crazy busy, but a good crazy.
I hope to help lead a mentoring workshop series to support youths in my community with tools to make positive career steps and seek educational opportunities as well.
Being in Peace Corps can feel like balancing five spinning plates on sticks, while standing upright in the back of a truck going 90 miles an hour on an uncharted dirt road. You just have do your best to keep standing and keep those plates spinning. Also, don't take on five plates if you can only handle two. If the plates break, its completely okay, because you'll find you have people there to glue the plates back together. Also, you'll learn a new way to keep standing and keep those plates from not breaking, every time you fall, and every time a plate breaks. If you make it 50 feet on that road without a plate breaking, you are a superstar.
Lois is serving in the Environment Green Initiative project and works at New Forest Infant, Primary and High School doing environmental education, greenhouse management, a school garden and a recycling program. She says it feels great to be one year in and is feeling comfortable at site and work. Moving forward, Lois wants to delve more into raising awareness of environmental issues facing Jamaica in the school and her community.
Lois's Advice for new volunteers: "Realize every new day is full of potential. Be patient and kind to yourself."