I like to make pronouncements, I’m an idea guy. Most of the times I don’t actually see my ideas through, but every now and then….something special happens. This time around I decided to take on the challenge of coordinating a week-long youth camp with the intention of having the youth think about their futures. Mind you, Peace Corps suggests that we spend the first couple of months at site observing and thinking about what you would like to do. However, my supervisor is a “go-getter” and when we talk, she expects that i’ll do it, and soon. Thus, we can’t just talk about possibly putting on a youth camp, we had to do it.
Today marked the last day of camp and I told the youth that, “it was one of the BEST things I have ever been a part of in my life,” and it’s true. Working in a new country with new cultural norms, ways of doing things, etc… is difficult anywhere. Jamaica, in itself, provides a unique challenge due to its unique contradicting cultural norms. For example, it’s very hard to contact people. You can try and call someone four or five times with no success. Yet just when you need them, you can reach them. The concept of being on time is sometimes foreign here as well. What I’ve come to understand, however, is that things happen when they happen. It may not happen when I expect or want it exactly to happen. But sure enough, just when I need a guest speaker to return my call and confirm that they will show up- even if it’s the day-of and right before their session- they will call and the session will happen. This might sound stressful to planners and detail-oriented people but this kind of planning is right up my alley. I’ve learned to appreciate the strange kind of faith in people that things will get done, just not quite the way I might expect it.
And speaking of Jamaicans, I have been humbled and touched by the way that people came to help and serve the camp. We had around 20 or so different volunteers that served the camp somehow because of how much they cared for the youth. They devoted countless hours to cook, dance, hang-out, teach, and more importantly, be positive role-models.
Don’t get me wrong, there were many frustrating, tiring times as well. But overall, I can’t tell you how much fun I had being around these amazing youth. They are so talented, highly energetic, passionate, and full of potential. As much as I hoped that they learned from this camp, selfishly I have found out how much I have learned from them. Maybe there’s still hope for me as well, but right now I’m feeling so old and tired!