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?
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.
And these are photos from the three farewell parties we attended (two of which were at the community center this past weekend):
-J + M
New Travel Blog
As we gear up to finish our Peace Corps service at the end of this month, our next chapter brings a whole heap of travel. We are so excited to do some more exploring while we reconnect with friends and family.
A number of people have asked us if we will keep up with our blog. The answer is yes… and then some. We’ve been writing on this here blog for almost as long as we’ve been married. During our Peace Corps service, it naturally became geared toward helping folks at home understand Jamaican culture and our experience as volunteers.
We plan to continue sharing our life updates and personal thoughts here. You may have noticed that our web address has changed to jeddandmichelle.com (although simplyintenitonal.wordpress.com will still get you here, too).
In addition, we’ve started up a new blog dedicated specifically to our travels. This will allow us to try our hand at true travel blogging, where we’ll write reviews and guides. (I [Michelle] also have another website in the works about intentional living, but more on that later.) We’ll be sure to continue sharing the more personal photos, videos, and stories of our travels here on our personal blog, and we’ll share links to the travel blog whenever we think it would be of interest to our family and friends.
For example, this past weekend we participated in Jake’s Triathlon for the second time. I wrote an informative review about the event and location on the new blog, which you can read here: Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon. I’ll only share the more personal photos from the event below, including this one of me getting interviewed after the race.
Apparently, I was the first female runner to cross the finish line, and the reporter thought I had won something. The truth is, I was part of a relay team and there were a number of others who finished ahead of us. I just happened to be a female runner- whereas other teams may have had female swimmers or bikers. The real female triathlete winner- who completed the whole race on her own- came in just behind me, as I was doing the interview!
Here are some more photos from the event:
Here’s the main page of our new travel blog, Intentional Travelers. There are already some posts up from our previous travels. Over the next year, we hope to be adding to it fairly regularly. Click on this image to check it out:
Let us know what you think of the new blog in the comments below.
We have very rarely written blog posts describing the events in our day, but today I am making an exception. This is a true story of one afternoon this past week, which I think will enlighten you to a number of things that happen in this country.
Our story begins at 2:37pm on a school day. The bell should have rang seven minutes ago to dismiss classes. Instead, for no apparent reason, it is rung just as rain starts to dance on the zinc roof.
I pop open my trusty umbrella, one leg of its frame permanently out of joint, causing it to dangle like a loose limb. I bee-line to the front gate of the school yard where the south coast “highway” (think: small, two-lane farm road) is quickly amassing more and more puddles.
I have one mission this afternoon: get a new phone. In Jamaica, you cannot have more than one mission in a given afternoon. You can try, but it’s not recommended.
As I stand on the side of the road with my Continue reading “Jamaica Nuh Easy: A Case Study”
Some grateful senior citizens recently gave Jedd the book Jamaica Fi Real!: Beauty, Vibes and Culture as a thank you for teaching them how to use computers. And it’s a keeper. The images are great; the content is relevant; the commentary is on point.The books is fantastic and its words resonated with our experiences of this country. For example:
It’s possibly the most contradictory country on the planet. Jamaica combines a Third World standard of living with an almost First World life expectancy. It is one of earth’s most stable democracies, yet has one of its higher homicide rates. It is reputed to have both more churches per square mile, and a higher out-of-wedlock birth rate, than any other place on the globe… (pg. XVII)
Are Jamaicans happy people? Well it’s hard to say; while few people go hungry, there are pockets of real poverty, and a fair amount of physical discomfort. Polls say about half of Jamaicans would emigrate to the US if they could, and a high crime rate is not usually the sign of a contented populace. Then there is the constant complaining, for people here are world-class grumblers. Yet Jamaicans interact with such vitality and humour, that it’s hard to conceive of them as being fundamentally miserable and disgruntled. There can’t be many places where people laugh as easily or as often, and no matter how bad things get, folks here always find reasons for outbursts of merriment. (pg. 11)
Throughout our Peace Corps service, we’ve tried our best to Continue reading “Jamaican Culture: Top Posts”
We’ve started to hear from the incoming group of Volunteers (about 30 come to Jamaica each year) who will start their training in March. I know it’s an exciting time for them. When I was in their shoes, I was soaking up all the information I could find about Peace Corps in Jamaica. Being less than five months away from our departure, there are inevitably a good number of lessons we’ve learned on our journey. Maybe they can help the next generation of PCVs…
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go well this year?
- Next, you set specific goals for categories of your choice (Friends & Family, Service, Travel, Spiritual, Health, Learning, Financial Earning, Financial Giving, Financial Saving, etc.) including 3-5 measurable objectives for each one.
- In the end, you come up with a summary and “theme” for your upcoming year.
Because the coming year brings a close to our chapter with Peace Corps and starts a whole slew of new things, I’ve been really looking forward to this exercise. I think Jedd and I both truly enjoy dreaming about possibilities. And because we’re not going home during our Peace Corps service, we decided to treat ourselves to a Christmas “staycation” here in Jamaica so we can rest, relax, and reflect.
Another Year in Jamaica
In the spirit of looking back at 2013, here are ten of our most memorable moments and favorite blog posts:
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.
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.
Yesterday was a special day for Michelle and I and the rest of the volunteers we arrived with on island, as we celebrated our 20 month of being Peace Corps volunteers. Below are 20 of my favorite photos from the last 20 months which, of course, doesn’t do any justice to the experience, but I hope you like them. (Also, you’ll notice that some of the captions have links back to related posts, in case you want to see more.)
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”