In Jamaica, Peace Corps volunteers live relatively close to each other, which means we are able to visit anyone within a day’s worth of travel. It seems that whenever we PCVs do get together, we can’t help but to try to process our common experiences in this country. Oftentimes the conversation is a means of venting because it’s a rare opportunity to be in the presence of other Americans who know first hand all the crazy things we go through. Through these discussions, there are a number of common reflections that have become apparent. In my next few posts, I’d like to share some of the topics we’ve discussed and some of the lessons we’ve learned collectively.
There are many and varied reasons why volunteers leave their service early. Sometimes the volunteer’s family or life circumstances require them to return home, some people find they don’t gel with Peace Corps’ policies or approach, others leave for health reasons, and a few have issues with their site. In our original group of thirty-six who arrived on island back in March 2012, twenty-nine remain. I found this chart from a former volunteer’s blog, which shows the average number of volunteers who go through each step of the application and service. So far, our group is just above par with about 80% of trainees still serving.
PCVs in other countries would probably be surprised that Jamaica, often deemed a “posh corps” post, is a more challenging post than they might assume. While daily life is not as hard (we have many of the amenities you don’t get in a hut in Africa or Mongolia) and mastering a foreign language is not quite as critical to our success, the challenges are more mental and cultural.
More on those challenges next time… -M