* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Video: A Volunteer’s Thoughts

One of the rewards of being a Peace Corps Volunteer is getting to meet amazing people who serve alongside you and making new friends who live all over the U.S. This video is an interview with a very special woman. Although we weren’t in the same training group, we were lucky enough that our terms of service on island overlapped more than a year, giving us the opportunity to share some time together here and there. In the video, she shares some of her funny stories and serious reflections from living two years in Jamaica. I think you’ll enjoy it!

If you want to see more, this is a link to the extended, “uncensored” interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed7fA20blcA


* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Jamaica Taught Us…

Our Peace Corps Volunteer training group took advantage of our recent reunion at the Mid-Service Conference last week to compile some of our lessons learned as volunteers in Jamaica. It’s a light-hearted, humorous perspective on the many aspects of Jamaican culture we’ve encountered so far. For your entertainment:

* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Patwa Quiz: Updated

One of our favorite things about living in Jamaica is the Patwa (or Patois) language. To give you a sample of some of the phrases we hear on a daily basis, we enlisted the help of a coworker’s daughter. She acts out six classic examples of Patwa from the Jamaican school yard. See if you can tell what she’s saying; and if you’re so inclined, post your guesses as a Comment to this post. (Current and returned PCVs don’t count!) We’ll update this post in about a week with a translation of each phrase.


Below you’ll find the translation of our Patwa Quiz: first, the phrase in patwa; then the direct translation in English; and finally the actual meaning, connotation, and uses of each phrase. Continue reading “Patwa Quiz: Updated”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Hawaiian-style Sweet Bread Recipe

A while back, Jedd and some other Peace Corps Volunteers on island started a collaborative cooking blog called PCJ Cookshop. There, volunteers can share their recipes for dishes that can be made with ingredients that are available and affordable to Peace Corps Jamaica’s volunteers. This past week, we worked on the creation of our first cooking video together. The link below will take you to the original post where you can access other PCJ Cookshop recipes (like Jedd’s famous “Run Down”).


* Jedd Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon

This past weekend we both participated in a Peace Corps Jamaica tradition: Jake’s Triathlon (http://www.jakesoffroadtri.com/). This was an event originally started by a Peace Corps Volunteer, which brings together both local and international competitors to help fund community projects in the area. Off the beaten path itself, Treasure Beach, the location of the race, provides a unique and laid-back setting for this off-road tri. We met some great people and were inspired by the defending champions (Jamaicans) who kicked some butt.

For volunteers like us, training in a hot climate with limited access to bicycles and places to run or swim, we tend to opt for the more manageable relay format. We each took the running portion (7k) on our respective teams, a Peace Corps all-men and a Peace Corps all-women team. Believe it or not, Continue reading “Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

A New Year Post

Although we’ve both experienced Christmas away from home before, this was our first in Jamaica. Downtown is the place to be on Christmas Eve, where shops are open until the wee hours of the morning and the main street is packed with families, teens dressed to the nines, and last-minute shoppers.

Christmas Eve at the downtown Sav-la-Mar night market
Christmas Eve at the downtown Sav-la-Mar night market

Christmas morning we went to a sunrise church service then spent some time with our host family singing carols. I introduced them to my own family’s Christmas morning tradition of home-made cinnamon rolls, which I think went over pretty well. Since it was also Grandma’s 89th birthday, they hosted extended family and friends for a dinner party in the yard, as well as a Boxing Day party the very next afternoon. We also enjoyed Boxing Day dinner at Jedd’s supervisor’s home.

The completed nativity scene (I ran out of glue for the three kings so they'll come next year)
The completed nativity scene (I ran out of glue for the three kings so they’ll come next year)

So we kept busy and enjoyed our Christmas, despite being far from home. And we had my parents’ visit to look forward to over New Years, which turned out to be all that we could have hoped for. We plan to share a few of their observations about Jamaica in our next post. Until then…

* Michelle Thoughts, Videos

Advent Project- Part One

In some ways, I don’t have a lot of hope for humanity. People are inherently good, but we also just can’t seem to get ourselves out of trouble- and I mean that on multiple, multiple levels. Living in a developing country, especially one with cultural roots that cannot be un-entwined from the effects of slavery, only convinces me more that all human beings struggle with some unalterable defect in our nature. Every last one of us. Including me, of course. Our issues are deep and far-reaching.

But before you assume that this post is going to be a big downer or that I’m hopelessly depressed and negative, hear me out. I do have hope. I just don’t think we as people can fix all our messes on our own. My hope lies in something greater.

That’s why Continue reading “Advent Project- Part One”

* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Plant Sale & Garden Expo

steel drums
This past Saturday was a much-anticipated one for our Jamaican host family. It was the day of our host mom’s second annual Plant Sale & Garden Expo. Jedd and I have assisted with some online marketing and event prep for it, but nothing to match the time and energy put into this day by our host parents. All in all, I’d say it was a great success. Most people who came stayed for a good while to enjoy the beautiful setting, live music, fresh seafood hot off the fire, children’s tent, and a variety of garden and art vendors. Here’s a video recap for the event:

* Jedd Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

“Go For the Gold” – Summer Camp 2012 Video

August 14th – 17th marked the hardest and best week I’ve had in Jamaica. Michelle and I (along with 20 or so community volunteers) put on a week long day camp for 30+ youth ages 11 – 23 (originally for ages 14-20).

The theme of camp was “Go for the Gold” – piggy backing off of the amazing performance of Jamaican athletes in the Olympics. We wanted the youth to think about their futures, their goals, but more importantly, what things they would need in order to succeed. The camp featured guest speakers and teachers, life-skills activities, dance lessons, computer lessons, sex/health/drug education, and a talent show. The next step for us is to ride the momentum and success of the camp and start a youth club. We look forward to next year’s camp but thank God that we don’t have to worry about it till next year.

* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Jamaican Music (clean and positive)

Jamaica is known for its music. “Artists” (singers or DJs) are idolized, even to the point of causing riffs between communities and leading the youth into some big trouble. Some Jamaicans blame the dance hall music culture for the degradation of society’s values. There are a number of artists, however, who are promoting positive values through catchy songs. Here are a few of our favorites that we thought y’all would enjoy:


Tarrus Riley

Romain Virgo