So.....here’s a quick(ish) update of what I’ve been doing in the last 6 months, other than watching Season 5 and 6 of Dexter.
The school year ended the first week of July. That week, we had a graduation or “school leaving celebration” for the grade 6 students that are going on to secondary school. It’s a really big deal here, and they go all out. The students wear a cap and gown, they get their portraits taken, they get plaques and presents, and all this transpires over an approximately 5 hour ceremony. Yeah, it was 5 hours. 29 students “graduated”. It was scheduled to start at 10, did not start until about 10:45 and ended around 3:30. I’m pretty sure our principal gave a speech that was just shy of an hour. Not that I am complaining at all, this is just how things go down here in Jamaica.
After our graduation, we still had 3 days of school left, to which the number of students decreased each day by 50%, leaving us with approximately 20 students on the last day of school, out of 168.
That last 2 weeks of school, I decided I wanted to put together a summer camp. I was already planning to help another PVC at her summer camp, but I realized that it would be important to my students to plan something for them to do as well. And at this point in my service, I feel comfortable with planning a camp last minute by myself. This was after I heard that the regular community member, who is in Teachers College, was spending his summer in the States on a work exchange program. (who could blame him?)
So that brings us to now, and I am just finishing up my first week of summer camp with my 17 students who showed up. It’s been really fun, but a bit challenging as my campers range from Grade 2 to Grade 6, which means the reading levels vary immensely. I’ve been trying to encourage the younger, less advanced students to reach out for help from the older students, and vice-versa. I’ve also been teaching them new games and trying to fit in some arts & crafts.
In official Peace Corps business, a few weeks ago, Group 82 had our mid-service conference. It was very surreal, as most of us couldn’t believe that a year had gone by since we first arrived in Jamaica. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and it made me proud of my group that we made it this far. (Who am I kidding? It was mostly just great to sleep in an air-conditioned hotel room :P)
Also, at the conference, I attended the IT session on movie-making. It’s inspired me to put together a video about our first year of Peace Corps. I recorded almost our entire group describing their first year of service in one word. I’m (slowly) putting together a video of this, including pictures and music. It’s pretty awesome because it seems that I’ve discovered a new passion. I’ve already killed several hours editing about 2 and a half minutes of video. (oh, bumbaclot, I just realized I’ve blogged about it so now it’s a project that I actually must complete. Watch out 2014!)
In emotional news, I must say that after a year in Jamaica, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ve really found my groove. I’m comfortable here, I’m confident in my work, and I dare say, happy. I mean, of course there are a million things that I could complain about (A three letter word, starting with B, rhymes with mugs) and there are still days that are unimaginably hard, but I’m not here because it was going to be easy. And when things do get tough again, I remember that each day is different, and I know the next day (even just the next hour sometimes) will be much better. And I’m here to grow and to be thankful…speaking of which:
Things I am thankful for today:
Children learned a new game yesterday and loved it
Made a delicious ramen noodle stir fry (don't judge until you've tried it)
Cool weather yesterday – much easier when walking up the giant hill on my way to work
Talked to two of my besties this week– I get to see the in just a few short weeks!
Avocado Season is back! (or Pear as they call them in JA)
Ginnup season is back too!
Students saying their favorite part of camp so far was the writing assignments, a pleasant surprise
Successful first week of camp
Went to my favorite beach yesterday
Endless amount of books
Saturday Funday in Ochi with my newest bestie :)