Disclaimer: This post was meant to go live on 03/14 (pi day) but do to unforseen but predictable life here (meaning busyness and random power outages) we are posting this today.Like most things in life here, things happen, when they happen.
It’s Pi day: 3.14. For the most part, it was a pretty typical day: we woke up, worked out, had breakfast, and headed to our worksites. Today marked one year since we landed in Jamaica to start our 2 year (+3month) Peace Corps commitment – so as typical and ordinary, it is also a special day.
At the end of work, I was surprised by my co-workers and community members with a surprise party to honor Michelle and I’s time here on island. It was a humbling, kind, and thoughtful event that made Michelle and I so thankful to be here. It reminded us that though many days we face challenges and frustrations, we also have met amazing people (nationals and PC volunteers) and overall, have had a good experience.
At the end of night we got to talking about the past year and it seemed that what we value the most and are most thankful for, have been the people we have met. Though Jamaica is stupidly beautiful, it’s really the people that make this place amazing to us. Most visitors on the island miss out on this. Many stay in all-inclusive resorts, never leaving the beaches, seeing the island behind glass, and more importantly, miss interacting with people outside of the hotel. In many ways to them, Jamaica is wild, zoo like, meaning that they would rather experience it from the safety of a bus or van – basically a safari. I like to wave to tourists as they drive by and love to see their curious faces as to why I don’t look like everyone else.
They are missing out.
Jamaica gets a bad rap for being violent and wicked. Statistics don’t lie per se when you see that there is a high number of murders and crime per capita. Yet statistics and the media don’t also share the larger, other part of the story about people that are very loving, warm, and extremely helpful. I’m not saying there are not bad people here, I’m just saying that there are not only bad people here. I’m saying that having lived here for a year now, somewhat immersed in day-to-day life, you definitely see things differently than if you were a visitor. This is truly the best and most valuable part of Peace Corps. We love when we find ourselves learning together along with nationals – mutual inter-cultural exchange and respect. Together, both us Peace Corps volunteers and Jamaicans learn that not all Jamaicans, Chinese, White-people, Americans, Christians, Males, Females, *insert a stereotype or general assumption here* are the same. And when you break all of those barriers and assumptions that used to keep us apart (like seeing each other from a window), you realize that we are all part of the same messed-up family of a human race and you start seeing all the things that we have in common, the things that were always there.
To finish the day we watched an episode of “Person of Interest” that highlighted Pi (which was completely and freakishly coincidental). As a non-math person, I never really appreciated how much geek love Pi gets. But as the main character described the infinite sequence of non-repeating numbers that represent a circle, I was amazed to learn that any identifying numbers that we have had in our lives (ssn, driver’s license, phone number) are some how part of Pi. It finally dawned on me that Pi represents all of us. Though random and chaotic it might seem, Pi miraculously never repeats itself – the way our world never does with people. We are all unique and perfectly made and collectively make up this world. Thank God it only took about 30 years and a beautiful place full of wonderful people to truly appreciate all of this….