* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps

Topics in PCJ #4: Patriotism

Continued from other posts here and here on topics frequently discussed by PCVs in Jamaica

Among the many discussions we’ve had with fellow volunteers, we have also concluded that most of us have a new-found love for America. Ironically, many of us left home with criticism in our hearts for the way the U.S. imposes its will on other nations, or how Americans are so obsessed with material gain, or any other number of issues. And it’s true that, since we’ve left, there have been a number of things happening in the U.S. that we are not proud of.

our patio with country prideBut by living in Jamaica, we do see our country differently now. We are all the more grateful for the privilege of growing up in a land of opportunity, a place where success stories happen every day to all sorts of people. We are proud to identify with all the people who came (and continue to come) to America because they wanted to make life better for their families. And perhaps most of all, we are astounded simply by how well things work! From the school system and the DMV to the line at the grocery store, we have a new-found appreciation for American efficiency and reliability. Though our systems in the U.S. aren’t perfect, they’re a lot less effort to navigate than those we’ve become accustomed to as PCVs.

We’re not saying that any of these things are the fault of Jamaicans as a people- we have come to understand that there are complex historical, political, and social factors behind everything. And it’s not really about comparing Jamaica and the U.S., because they each have their roses and their thorns. Rather, it’s the age-old adage that you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. So, in the end, leaving home has given many of us an unexpected appreciation for the country we left behind and its ways.

5 thoughts on “Topics in PCJ #4: Patriotism”

  1. Aloha, I am RPCV who served in Jamaica, in the parish of St. Ann from ’74 – ’77. I have been following your blog, fascinated with your experiences and perceptions of Jamaica and its people. I can relate to what you are saying on many levels. With this posting, you are so spot on! Your words speak deeply and profoundly. And this is exactly what I experienced and still maintain after all these years. But it is different from the patriotism of others who have never lived another culture. What I have experienced repeatedly, now, feels more balanced, more honest, more of the truth. Thank you for confirming my experiences. Living in Jamaica is unique, and treasured dearly. I wish you a continued positive time on that vibrant island, where so many beautiful people call “home”. Mahalo, William

    1. William, thanks so much for following us and for sharing your thoughts as well! We really appreciate the support.

  2. Hi you two! Last night was the Portland area PC Send-off gathering for RPCVs, Invitees, and folks still in the application process. We had a table showcasing some items we brought back from Jamaica (the bottle of Rum got the most attention!) and Adrienne gave a slide presentation on our 2 years in St. Mary. We felt you there in spirit and look forward to welcoming you back next year in time to carry the Jamaica flag in the Rose Parade. You make us proud! Big ups to you both.

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