* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps

Our Peace Corps Process: From Application to Moving In

bamboo avenue
Bamboo Avenue, South Coast highway, Jamaica

Values: Choosing Freedom October 2009. You could say this is where it all started. We were well on our way to buying a house but instead, we changed the trajectory of our lives.

The Waiting Game The challenges of being nominees in the Peace Corps application process- a process which apparently has changed since we’ve been serving in Jamaica (hopefully for the better).

You Want to Send Us Where? Things with our placement did not turn out as we expected. This was a difficult bump in the road but it turned out for the best.

Looking Back At 2011: Our Year In Review (VIDEO POST) With almost nine extra months on our hands before our new departure date, the door of opportunity swung wide open. 2011 was packed full of adventures we never dreamed were possible.

Peace Corps Invite!!!!!!!!! (VIDEO POST) A short video capturing the very exciting moment when we opened our official invitation. We knew the region in advance but were surprised to learn our country.

Crossing the Waters (VIDEO POST) In March 2012, we were finally off to meet the other 36 members of PCJ Group 83. The video depicts our transition from home- farewell parties and packing- to staging in Atlanta.

Community-Based Training (Part One) (VIDEO POST) Upon our arrival in Jamaica, we moved quickly from orientation in Kingston to our first home-stay community for several weeks of general training.

Life Pon di Hill and Rise and Shine: A Morning in the Life of a Trainee Here’s a glimpse into each of our “Hub” communities where we spent about 5 weeks doing sector-specific training while living with host families. The video on this page also shows more of the education sector’s Hub training.

Volunteer Shadowing (VIDEO POST) Having the chance during our training to shadow a currently serving Volunteer brought our soon-to-be life as a PCV that much closer.

Shortly after we arrived, these two were born.
Shortly after we arrived at site, these two characters were born in the yard. They’ve grown with us ever since.

Swearing In After about 10 weeks of training, we were finally sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. Jedd was chosen to give one of the speeches at the ceremony (his speech transcript is included in this post).

Home Sweet Home (VIDEO POST) Before swearing in, we found out our permanent site placement and were able to visit for a few days. After swearing in, we got settled in to our apartment, got to know our amazing host parents in the house above us, and started work at the community center and school. (We also celebrated our 4th anniversary!)

There are many more posts from our Peace Corps journey, experiencing the ups and downs as well as sharing what we’ve learned about Jamaican culture… Browse here.

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps

Rise and Shine: A Morning in the Life of a Trainee

This was going to be “A Day in the Life” post, however, just covering the morning hours seems to be plenty for one post. The following is a description of an average training day at my Hub:

One Morning

It’s a Monday morning. I wake up around 5:45am as the sun is just beginning to glow through my windows and illuminate the pastel green walls in my bedroom. My earplugs have fallen out at some point during the night, so I do a quick sweep of the linen sheets to feel them out. The temperature has been much more agreeable now that we’re further up in the mountains of Jamaica, so I had switched my fan off late in the evening. I roll out of bed and my bare feet guide me across the tile floor, out my back bedroom door (the front bedroom door leads to the patio/entrance of the house). A quick zigzag down the hallway brings me to my own private bathroom which my host family has reserved for me; it is nearly the size of my bedroom but painted pastel pink. (I’ve already used the facility twice during the night because of how much water and juice I’m ingesting, and yet I still have to go again! TMI?) Continue reading “Rise and Shine: A Morning in the Life of a Trainee”

* Michelle Thoughts, * Peace Corps, Videos

Community-Based Training (Part One)

This video is a quick look at what our lives have looked like the past couple weeks. After Staging in Atlanta, we flew to Kingston where we were warmly welcomed and did our first two days of orientation. Then, we moved into our first home-stay community in a small town outside of Kingston where we have been enjoying home cooking, fresh juice, and life lessons from our host mother and sister. On week days we are in training sessions with the other trainees, learning about the local language and culture, safety and security, Peace Corps policies, and overviewing issues related to our project sectors.

Some random things we’ve learned and experienced so far:

  • Steel drums actually come from Trinidad and Tobago
  • It is not culturally acceptable to eat on the street, walking or sitting (jury is still out on why this is so)
  • Jamaicans hold big social parties nine days after a death called a Nine Night and anyone can attend
  • “Howdy come from outta door.” Greetings are more important than saying Thank You here, and it is the person coming from “outside” (whether entering a room or a foreigner entering a neighborhood) who must be the one to offer the greeting
  • Morning jogs must wrap up before 7:30am or else you’ll get too hot
  • The ice cream truck plays the same song here
  • Sometimes girls will ask to touch your hair