I realize I am posting this on December 21st assuming the world will not end.
9 months have gone by and these are the two things that I think about…everyday. Maybe it’s the holiday season and I’m jealous of my fellow volunteers that are heading home. Maybe it’s the heartbreaking, unthinkable tragedy that happened last Friday. It could be the fact that back at home my family has been going through a big and stressful transition and I have been unable to help them. It could be the daily stress I’ve been feeling trying to serve such a diverse population and failing at setting appropriate boundaries. Of course, not to forget the cultural differences, the feeling of mundane routine, and a sense of isolation and lack of freedom, and sure, anyone would question – why? Why would Michelle and I and the other volunteers, not just in Jamaica, but anywhere else in the Peace Corps world, why would do we do, what we do.
Here’s a few reasons for me:
- The smile of my 80+ year old basic computer student, blown away by Google Maps
- Squished into a public transit mini-van meant to hold 15 but instead holding 27 and
listening to people sing-a-long to yet another Celine Dion or cheesy 90s R&B song
- Hanging out with my host family
- Confusing/Educating Jamaicans to think twice about me being a person from China
- Learning how to cook things from scratch like homemade bread and tomato sauce
- Seeing Michelle and I grow as individuals and as a couple
- Greeting anyone and everyone daily
- Making Jamaicans laugh with my weak attempts of using slang and proverbs
- Learning to live simply, sometimes without the internet, sometimes without electricity
- Growing my own fruit trees from seeds
- Learning to be at home as a stranger in a new place
- Hanging out with other Peace Corps Volunteers on the island
- Learning from Jamaicans how to not take things to seriously, how to laugh
- Seeing youth get excited about creative career opportunities they never knew existed.
- Supporting youth to celebrate creativity, natural talent, passions, and vocation
There is no such thing as a typical Peace Corps experience, not in this country, and not in Peace Corps in general. There is no typical life. Everything I mentioned above, challenges or victories is my life. I am both happy and frustrated to be where I am right in this moment.
This amazes me because the person I was before Peace Corps, wouldn’t have seen and accepted life this way. I was always trying to make things selfishly perfect for me and I finally understand that I can’t, and that’s ok. That is why I am here – to see my life changed by the experiences I am having, both good and bad. I am here because I do believe that I have something to offer and share with Jamaica and I believe Jamaica have important things to share with me. 9 months down, 18 months left to go…