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Video: 2015 Travels

One of my personal goals is to get better at making videos to document our memories, and to share them with friends and family. I hope you enjoy a short look at our travels from 2015:

2014: Year In Review Video

2014 was another eventful year, and we are so thankful for all the people and places we encountered! As usual, we’ve put together a short video of clips from our adventures. You’ll see footage from Peace Corps Jamaica, some road trips and National Parks, France and Switzerland, and more. We hope you enjoy!

Julien Does Jamaica: Fun Video Interview

We never got around to sharing this video, although we’ve had it for a while. This is Jedd’s co-worker sharing various thoughts about Jamaica. Don’t you think he should have his own TV show?

Two Years in Peace Corps Jamaica: A Video

What do you say when people ask you, “how was it?”

Today we say goodbye to what has been our home and lives for the past two years. It’s been a roller coaster ride, almost 4 total years of our life if you include the process we went through just to get accepted and placed to serve as volunteers (which was typical at the time, not so typical now). The last couple of months, weeks, and days we’ve had the chance to reflect with other fellow volunteers, get in a few new adventures, and more importantly, say thanks to the people of Jamaica who have taught and given us so much.

It’s incredible to think of all of the challenges, the fun, the adventure, the work- everything that makes up the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer. There’s just no way to really answer question, “how was it?”.  I guess we could say, “It was everything we’d hope it would be and more,” and that still feels like we are cheapening the experience.

Two Years Video

It’s impossible to summarize two years, but these short video clips will hopefully give you a taste of our experience in Jamaica as Peace Corps Volunteers. We’re so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to come and live in a Jamaican community, to share life with people, to be challenged and to grow. It was not always easy, but we have gained so incredibly much in return.

Farewell Photos

And these are photos from the three farewell parties we attended (two of which were at the community center this past weekend):

-J + M

Amazing Free Digital Resources for Teaching Phonics

Amazing Free Resource for Teaching Phonics | Best Youtube Phonics Videos

As a Youth Literacy Advisor tutoring struggling readers in rural Jamaica, I started out with no curriculum, limited resources, and no formal teaching experience to lean on. Fortunately, thanks to the opportunity to shadow another Peace Corps Volunteer, I learned about an invaluable resource at my disposal.

Over my two years of service in the school, this one tool saved me much-needed energy and increased the effectiveness of my teaching. It kept my students’ attention better than any game I could conjure, and it clearly helped concepts stick better in their memory.

I’m talking about youtube videos.


My Own Jamaican Letter Sound Video!

Be the first to watch!

I’ve been using all the videos below for two years now, but not one of them was made specifically for Jamaican students. The accents in the shows are either American or British, and they refer to things like yachts and violins (which have little meaning to the kids).

Because phonics is such an important skill that is often missing from Jamaican students’ repertoire, I used the videos I had, and it was effective. But all along, I was looking for something truly Jamaican. I didn’t find anything, so I finally ended up making my own video.

I drew the pictures based on phonics materials I found in Jamaican schools. Then I trained a bunch of my students to do the chant and featured their voices in the audio. Resources were limited, and I wish the quality was better. I hope that some day, someone else will take it to the next level. Regardless, my dream is that this video can be used as a resource across the island- by Peace Corps Volunteers and Jamaican teachers alike.

Please help me share it!


How to Use Videos Offline

kids watching show

In Peace Corps, internet access is not always guaranteed. Fortunately, you don’t actually need the internet at school to use youtube videos in your lessons!

Using sites like SaveVid, you can actually download them in formats like .wmv, mp4, .mov, etc. When I was starting out, I basically went to the internet cafe and searched youtube for the concepts I needed to reinforce with my students (i.e. letter sound song, short vowel sounds). I then copy and pasted the youtube URL into SaveVid, saved the files to a thumb drive, and transferred them onto an iPad or laptop for later use.


Best Free Videos for Teaching Phonics

Continue reading “Amazing Free Digital Resources for Teaching Phonics”

Our Favorite Concert in Jamaica

This past Sunday Michelle and I were invited to a high school concert in a different parish to support my supervisor’s daughter. We didn’t think too much about it, just another opportunity to see a different part of the country and experience a high school concert.

After a beautiful- if hurried- drive through picturesque farmland and then hairpin turns overlooking the island during “golden time,” we reached the historic all-girls high school. It sat like a chateau at the peak of a humble mountain.

We had just enough time before the show to greet my supervisor’s daughter, a “senior” in the steel pan band. We also discovered that one of my summer camp volunteers would be in the choir, as well as the daughter of one of our favorite bus drivers.

The concert featured steel pan (steel drum) bands, dramatic and entertaining choir performances, and short solos by several piano students. We were pleasantly surprised at the girls’ talent and have never enjoyed a high school show so much. The choir pieces were performed like musical numbers, many of which were cleverly written in Jamaican patois by the music teacher herself. Hopefully the short video clips we put together will give you a sense of the entertainment value and the energy in the room that night!

We had no idea what we were in for, but we both agreed it was an unforgettable, truly enjoyable night.

– J + M

Jamaica by Jamaicans

Peace Corps’s Third Goal Office is hosting a video challenge for this year’s Peace Corps Week. Being the wanna-be film-maker that I am (and being partial to the Office of Third Goal who awarded us a free trip to DC last summer!), I had to do something.

Peace Corps has three primary goals for its volunteers, and the third goal focuses on raising awareness about our countries of service among Americans. Hence, the contest to depict what you wish Americans knew about your country in two minutes or less.

My strategy was to let Jamaicans speak for themselves (not too many PC countries can capitalize on their English-speaking counterparts). I’ve collected a lot of great interview footage over the two years, so hopefully I’ll get motivated to share more of that eventually.

Continue reading “Jamaica by Jamaicans”

A Special Message in Patwa

A good friend of mine is heading off to a new adventure in her personal and professional career back in the states. I was asked to make a quick video in honor of the occasion and thought it might be a good time to showcase some of the language skills I have learned during my time here in Jamaica. Please note I don’t claim proficiency nor do I speak like this everyday, though I wish I could. A special thanks goes out to my colleagues at the community center who made this a fun staff project. They helped me translate the words and coached me through how to say everything (in particular, with the right attitude). Hope this gives you a sense of the language from a foreigner’s perspective. Check out the video below to hear what it really should sound like.

One of the most frequent things we get asked about Jamaica is the language. Let’s be clear here, the official Continue reading “A Special Message in Patwa”

Peace Corps Jamaica Close of Service 2014

In March 2012, we landed in Kingston together. Now, almost two years later, we celebrate and reminisce on our time of service in Jamaica and prepare ourselves for the final chapter of PCV life. This week, group 83- our cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers on island- met up in Portland parish for our Close of Service conference. In less than four months, most of us will be heading home.

This video that a fellow volunteer, Marie, and I made is a recap of our group’s experiences, which we shared at our conference. Though full of meaning and memories for us PCVs in group 83, I don’t know many outsiders will want to watch all 11 minutes. But I thought some might be curious. And I think the video does a good job of representing what service looks like in this country without spending too much time on any one thing.

Close of Service conference
Close of Service conference
Where we're all going when we finish PC
Where we’re all going when we finish PC

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