We finally did it! Members of Peace Corps Jamaica Group 84 are no longer Trainees, but Volunteers. A bittersweet feeling, as we’re all excited to get to our sites, get our hands dirty and change the world. At the same time, new friendships have been forged, difficulties endured, and it will be hard to be scattered across the island.
As I’m sure my loyal readers have gathered, training hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. There have been more than a few long and frustrating days, but the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned FAR FAR outweigh that. This last week of training in Kingston was particularly difficult for several reasons, but I think ultimately training has been a positive experience. Lots of important people gave lovely speeches at swearing in today, but I think our very own Greenie, Kristy, put it best when she related the Jamaican national motto, “Out of many, one people” to our training group and experience. We come from many walks of life, backgrounds, and experiences but our vision and desire to change the world in some small way unites us. We were strangers 10 weeks ago, but now we’re family in a lot of ways.
With all of that sappy stuff out of the way, I’m happy to report that I love my assignment so far. It appears that I’m like a 4-H agent (never say never I guess…). I’ll be getting to know the parish of St. Ann really well, traveling to schools doing trainings, workshops, environmental education, school gardens (my major assignment) and some small livestock projects. I won’t be bored, that’s for dang sure. My supervisor is an extremely hardworking guy and a classic extrovert. He has enough personality and energy for several people, so it will be a trial keeping up with him.
My head is already buzzing with ideas and projects, so I’m excited to put them into action! Peace Corps doesn’t like us to take on too much at one time, especially so early in our service, so I need to take it slow (prevents burnout and allows us to integrate and get to know our communities). I’ve spoken with some of the nice folks at Jamaica 4-H and they’re already eager to get US-Jamaica 4-H exchanges started. Hopefully I can have a hand in that!
As I said when I first arrived on island, I’m excited to see what the next two years have in store. If training is any indication, it’ll be a rollercoaster to be sure, but one with the most exciting twists and turns. Holding on to your friend is what keeps you safe, though.