* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates


It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back in the United States for a little over a month now. First, we went on a road trip from Orlando to Chicago to reconnect with family and friends. Then we went to Oregon to see more family. Finally, for the last two weeks Michelle and I had a chance to spend some quality time with our own families, Michelle in Oregon, and me in Hawaii.

Being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (the official term – RPCV) everyone seems to be asking 3 major things:

1. What was it like? How was your experience? – We’ve talked about the difficulty of this before for any volunteer to sum up their 2-year lives as volunteers and how we’ll probably be reflecting about our experience for months to come.

2.  What’s next? – We’ve sort of mentioned things here and there but we are working on a post to better explain what we’ll be up to this coming year. As we said in Jamaica, “soon come.”

3. How has it been to be home? – This is the focus of today’s post: Home.

Bellows Air Force Base - Waimanalo Hawaii

Home….Not Yet Home

As travelers, I’ve come to understand that “home” is different for everyone, especially for us wanderers. I grew up in Hawaii. That’s home. I felt a deep connection to Portland. That’s also home. Jamaica has a special place in my heart and life. There’s a part of me that calls that home now, too.

Here are my favorite recent questions we’ve been getting that I struggle to answer:

Where are you from?
Umm…where did I grow up? Where did I just come from? What country?

Where are you living now?
Well…right now I’m visiting family in Hawaii, so I guess there??

Ok, then, where will you be living?
Good question. We will be traveling for awhile so…yeah.

How’s home been since you’ve been back?
When I landed in Hawaii 2 weeks ago I thought I would feel as if I returned home. For anyone that has been to Honolulu, once you land, you actually go outside right away as you walk to baggage claim. It’s another small thing I love about returning “home.” The warmth, humidity, and trade winds gently remind you that you’ve arrived. Yet as I walked through the airport, I didn’t feel home. The local people that I grew up with seemed different to me. I started wondering: will people know I was born and raised here? Will they see me as a tourist? I didn’t feel that I fit in.

What’s crazy is how things change and don’t change in two years. Honolulu has more new condos and big buildings. They started building a rail system. Yet Diamond Head, the mountains, and valleys are still there and still beautiful. I love surfing. I love the local Hawaiian food. And most of all, it’s been great to see family and friends. It’s been great to see so many people I haven’t seen in years that have changed and in many ways, haven’t changed at all, too.

But I didn’t go home to the house I grew up in. My family moved while I was away. I thought I would be sad about it but being with my family, I’ve realized wherever they are is where home is. I’ve forgotten about the old house.

And really that’s it. Home is not a place. Home is not a physical structure. Home is a familial structure. Home is a feeling. Home is being surrounded by the people you love that also love you. That’s why I can be home with just Michelle, or in Portland, Hawaii, and even now, Jamaica.

So yeah, it’s been great to be home.

“Where is home again?”

Wherever I’m with my family and friends….I’m home.

Here are some things I’ve been up to since being back in Honolulu (including some random part-time jobs).

Helping setup AV equipment:

Multimedia Solutions Honolulu

Helping setup a wedding:

Simply Detailed Weddings & Events Honolulu

The latest “Jumping Jedd Photo” – Surfing out by Diamond Head

Jumping Jedd Honolulu




* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

2 Weeks in America After 2 Years Abroad

For the last two weeks, Michelle and I have been on a “Welcome Back”/”Reintegrate to American Culture” tour. Leaving Jamaica after our 2-year Peace Corps service, we headed to Florida to visit family, drove to Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham to visit friends, and concluded our trip driving to Memphis and Chicago to see more family. For a more detailed look at each stop (including pics), check out our travel blog – http://intentionaltravelers.com

As we prepared for our transition back to the states, PC staff and friends had told us there would be a time of readjustment. It might be difficult, strange even.

I laughed. How hard could it be?

It turns out, the one thing that really bothers me about readjustment hasn’t been about whether or not I fit back in being American. What bothers me is how EASILY it has been to go back to living life the way I had before…as if two years of a different life didn’t even happen. It feels as if our time as PC Volunteers in Jamaica was so long ago.

It’s only been two weeks.

Here are some observations we’ve made on our road trip since we’ve been back:

Life Moves Quickly in America (and usually in a car)
You know you were in Peace Corps when you can stare and marvel at sidewalks. We hardly had them in Jamaica. Some towns and major cities had them, but most of Jamaica does not have sidewalks. Yet a majority of the people walk. A majority of the people do not own cars. The towns and cities are not designed for cars.

On our road trip I loved looking at the layout of neighborhoods, towns, and cities. I was amazed at the beautiful sidewalks, well kept yards, and attractions. The only problem is there were little to no people walking on these sidewalks to enjoy everything. Most people drive in America (if they can). People get around here more efficiently, no waiting, and I like that. But I’ve also realized that the slower pace in Jamaica forced me to notice things, to observe and watch more. When you are driving, you’ll probably miss something you didn’t see if you were walking.

Choices, Choices, Choices
I remember a story from a former volunteer who went to a grocery store in the US after finishing their service in Kenya. They were astounded by the amount of options to choose from. In Jamaica we had an American-style grocery store and had way more choices for food and things than the volunteer from Kenya. However, I am still amazed at all the options and choices we get to make as Americans. And I’m not jut talking about food.

Where would you like to go? What would you like to do? What would you like to eat? How would you like that cooked? If that doesn’t work, we have plenty of other options.

It’s overwhelming.

It’s also a great opportunity to be thankful for the little things. I missed variety and the freedom to have so many choices. I also never appreciated this before I joined the Peace Corps. But I’ve also realized that life has become way more complicated than it use to be. Also, I’m starting to see that my ability to make good and healthy choices (as it relates to food) is challenged by my mindset of having been away. Two servings of something I haven’t had in awhile? Yes, please. Another chocolate chip cookie? Sure, I’ll make up for all the times I didn’t have it. I’m starting to see that this excuse could lead into other issues. As the great philosopher Notorious B.I.G. said, “More choices, more issues”. He said money, but same idea.

People are People
Our host mom in Jamaica would say this a lot. What she meant by it was that regardless of where you go, there are things about people that you’ll find universally. A smile will usually indicate happiness. Rude in any country is rude. Sadness and tears. Laughter and joy.

Being back in the states, though my host mom is right, there are still a lot of differences between Jamaicans and Americans. I realize that Americans keep to themselves whereas Jamaicans are more communal and sometimes too much in your face. Americans are a little cautious about putting themselves out there. Jamaicans are not afraid to sing, dance, or be loud- ever. Jamaicans we be more direct and blunt. Americans will try to find a more delicate way to say something.

As the PC staff and former volunteers have said (Michelle wrote a post about this too), this is a process. It’s only been two weeks back in the USA. Who knows what two years in the country might do to us.