Going Out Dancing

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Henroy teaches me how fi dance.

It’s hard to believe but today is my last day at the community center and so I figured I would leave doing something great - they got me to dance like a Jamaican….sort of.

At the community center, I became friends with a some amazing young entrepreneurs called “Super Legend Entertainment” (a very Jamaican name) who started their own entertainment company that preforms in our town as well as at hotels in the touristy area known as Negril. I am a huge fan of theirs, partly because I wish I could dance as good as them, but also because they have assisted me with all of our summer youth camps by providing free dance lessons.

After a year of so of talking about making a video together and doing lessons regularly at the community center, both finally came together this past week, even though it was my last one. Oh well. Such is life in Jamaica and a great way to go out. You never know when things will happen, but they do. It is what it is and more importantly, it was a great way to finish my service here at the center. It’s one of many fun memories among the many challenges, joys, laughter, tears, and some times utter ridiculousness that was my Peace Corps volunteer service (more to come for another post). I’m incredibly thankful.

Hope you enjoy the videos. -J

Jamaican Zumba Routine – “Same Way” by Busy Signal (Blurred Lines remix)

Henroy from Super Legend Entertainment breaks down the moves of the routine 

Speaking of videos, here’s another update from our new travel blog Intentional Travelers: The Best Videos by Peace Corps Volunteers Around the World.

Best-Peace-Corps-Videos

Jake’s Triathlon and A New Travel Project

 

Stops on our way home from PC Jamaica

Stops on our way home from PC Jamaica

New Travel Blog

As we gear up to finish our Peace Corps service at the end of this month, our next chapter brings a whole heap of travel. We are so excited to do some more exploring while we reconnect with friends and family.

A number of people have asked us if we will keep up with our blog. The answer is yes… and then some. We’ve been writing on this here blog for almost as long as we’ve been married. During our Peace Corps service, it naturally became geared toward helping folks at home understand Jamaican culture and our experience as volunteers.

We plan to continue sharing our life updates and personal thoughts here. You may have noticed that our web address has changed to jeddandmichelle.com (although simplyintenitonal.wordpress.com will still get you here, too).

In addition, we’ve started up a new blog dedicated specifically to our travels. This will allow us to try our hand at true travel blogging, where we’ll write reviews and guides. (I [Michelle] also have another website in the works about intentional living, but more on that later.) We’ll be sure to continue sharing the more personal photos, videos, and stories of our travels here on our personal blog, and we’ll share links to the travel blog whenever we think it would be of interest to our family and friends.

Jake’s Tri

For example, this past weekend we participated in Jake’s Triathlon for the second time. I wrote an informative review about the event and location on the new blog, which you can read here: Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon. I’ll only share the more personal photos from the event below, including this one of me getting interviewed after the race.

Jake's Triathlon finish

Apparently, I was the first female runner to cross the finish line, and the reporter thought I had won something. The truth is, I was part of a relay team and there were a number of others who finished ahead of us. I just happened to be a female runner- whereas other teams may have had female swimmers or bikers. The real female triathlete winner- who completed the whole race on her own- came in just behind me, as I was doing the interview!

Here are some more photos from the event:

Peace Corps volunteers helping at a water station

Peace Corps Volunteers helping at a water station

Peace Corps post-race reunion

Peace Corps post-race reunion

We reconnected with friends we made at last year's event, and they invited us to visit their farm near Boston

We reconnected with friends we made at last year’s event, and they invited us to visit their farm near Boston!

Peace Corps picture triangle

Peace Corps picture triangle

Here’s the main page of our new travel blog, Intentional Travelers. There are already some posts up from our previous travels. Over the next year, we hope to be adding to it fairly regularly. Click on this image to check it out:

Intentional Travelers blog

Let us know what you think of the new blog in the comments below.

Amazing Free Digital Resources for Teaching Phonics

Amazing Free Resource for Teaching Phonics | Best Youtube Phonics Videos

As a Youth Literacy Advisor tutoring struggling readers in rural Jamaica, I started out with no curriculum, limited resources, and no formal teaching experience to lean on. Fortunately, thanks to the opportunity to shadow another Peace Corps Volunteer, I learned about an invaluable resource at my disposal.

Over my two years of service in the school, this one tool saved me much-needed energy and increased the effectiveness of my teaching. It kept my students’ attention better than any game I could conjure, and it clearly helped concepts stick better in their memory.

I’m talking about youtube videos.


My Own Jamaican Letter Sound Video!

Be the first to watch!

I’ve been using all the videos below for two years now, but not one of them was made specifically for Jamaican students. The accents in the shows are either American or British, and they refer to things like yachts and violins (which have little meaning to the kids).

Because phonics is such an important skill that is often missing from Jamaican students’ repertoire, I used the videos I had, and it was effective. But all along, I was looking for something truly Jamaican. I didn’t find anything, so I finally ended up making my own video.

I drew the pictures based on phonics materials I found in Jamaican schools. Then I trained a bunch of my students to do the chant and featured their voices in the audio. Resources were limited, and I wish the quality was better. I hope that some day, someone else will take it to the next level. Regardless, my dream is that this video can be used as a resource across the island- by Peace Corps Volunteers and Jamaican teachers alike.

Please help me share it!


How to Use Videos Offline

kids watching show

In Peace Corps, internet access is not always guaranteed. Fortunately, you don’t actually need the internet at school to use youtube videos in your lessons!

Using sites like SaveVid, you can actually download them in formats like .wmv, mp4, .mov, etc. When I was starting out, I basically went to the internet cafe and searched youtube for the concepts I needed to reinforce with my students (i.e. letter sound song, short vowel sounds). I then copy and pasted the youtube URL into SaveVid, saved the files to a thumb drive, and transferred them onto an iPad or laptop for later use.


Best Free Videos for Teaching Phonics

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Our Favorite Concert in Jamaica

This past Sunday Michelle and I were invited to a high school concert in a different parish to support my supervisor’s daughter. We didn’t think too much about it, just another opportunity to see a different part of the country and experience a high school concert.

After a beautiful- if hurried- drive through picturesque farmland and then hairpin turns overlooking the island during “golden time,” we reached the historic all-girls high school. It sat like a chateau at the peak of a humble mountain.

We had just enough time before the show to greet my supervisor’s daughter, a “senior” in the steel pan band. We also discovered that one of my summer camp volunteers would be in the choir, as well as the daughter of one of our favorite bus drivers.

The concert featured steel pan (steel drum) bands, dramatic and entertaining choir performances, and short solos by several piano students. We were pleasantly surprised at the girls’ talent and have never enjoyed a high school show so much. The choir pieces were performed like musical numbers, many of which were cleverly written in Jamaican patois by the music teacher herself. Hopefully the short video clips we put together will give you a sense of the entertainment value and the energy in the room that night!

We had no idea what we were in for, but we both agreed it was an unforgettable, truly enjoyable night.

- J + M

Life Lessons from Jamaican Sayings

Jamaican Life Lessons
Earlier this month Michelle and I had the honor and privilege of welcoming the newest group of Peace Corps volunteers (group #85; we are 83) to the island. It was a strange feeling as we were at the Peace Corps Office working on paperwork and medical stuff to prepare for the completion of our service while surrounded by excited and nervous faces beginning their adventure.

It was infectious.

I was reminded that just two years ago I was exactly like them. Everything was new. It was painfully hot. I was completely exhausted. I wanted to start doing everything. I remember meeting current volunteers and feeling in awe of how experienced and calm they were. They seemed to know everything. I had so many questions then. So many unknowns and- in true Peace Corps fashion- never enough information to satisfy my curiosity and need to know everything or to be in control. I had arrived in a strange new world.

I wish we had more time to get to know these volunteers. It felt like we knew many of them because of Facebook. Peace Corps is a great opportunity to meet new volunteers, make new friends, and fellowship in this adventure. Truly, no one really know what you are going through more than your fellow volunteers, especially those that you serve alongside in the same country.

So I wanted to give this new group some valuable lessons I’ve learned in Jamaica from Jamaicans that helped me during my time here.  These lessons I will take with me for the rest of my life. None of these things might make sense to this group now, but hopefully they will when they meet new volunteer groups that come to Jamaica, when they become the veterans, when they are preparing to go back home.

“Tek Time” & “Soon Come”

When I first got to Jamaica, I really struggled with the pace of life here. Everything was slower. I had no control. I was so used to getting to my destination when I planned to. I was used to everything else being on a predictable schedule. More importantly, being in control of my own schedule meant being in control of my life. In Jamaica, I felt so dependent upon everyone else. Dependent on an unscheduled transport system, never knowing when I would get a ride anywhere.  Dependent upon the affects of daily thunderstorms. Dependent on other people’s time tables.

In Jamaica, “Tek Time” translates to “take time” or “slow down.” Don’t rush. You may want things to Continue reading