I wrote this several weeks ago and am just now publishing it because I needed to sit on it for a couple of weeks to really calm down and ensure I was not in an angry or agitated state.
Today, actually right now is one of my meetings. I am obviously not there. Why am I not there? Well frankly because after a year of being here you would think meetings would start at least remotely on-time. The president is often late. In his defense he has much more to do than hours in the day and maybe he needs to appoint persons to start the meetings in a more timely manner, even lead meetings so he can step back and allow some of the burden to be lifted off his shoulders. But why am I not there? After a year I should be used to it. True I am used to it by now, the issue is that the meeting place is located in a place with little to no shade and the evening sun tonight was blazing hot. I got sunburnt just walking to the meeting and waiting for it to start. I ran out of water and patience. I should not be forced to make a choice between my health and upholding my duties. In every instance I will choose my health, sorry but I am selfish like that.
So what does a Jamaican meeting look like? I can only talk about my groups, because much like the rest of the World, the meetings look different based on the dynamics of the group and the leadership. My meetings never start on time. I often just want to storm off and go home, much like I did tonight, for the first time. They are often long and last up to 3 hours. I want to cry sometimes because it is right in the middle of dinner hour or close to bedtime. They are often boisterously loud, like OMG fists are gonna fly, but really this is just how Jamaicans stay. They tend to “discuss” quite loud, almost yelling at each other and repeat themselves several times. They look directly at you and say “yuh unnerstan??” Oh man I got it the first time you said it!
Does anything ever get done at these meetings? Actually yes. After all is said and done, decisions are sometimes reached, or at least an idea is formulated. In fact this is actually where I excel. These discussions bring up many issues facing the community and I simply suggest a course of action, often finding a “champion” for this action in the process. I never tell anyone what to do, but simply suggest things that can be done. I look for that little in to accomplish small things under the much bigger issue. An example of this is when there was an increase in property crimes in our area, I simply suggested that civic pride is a crime deterrent and found several Jamaican news clips to back that point. I also explained that civic pride is a clean and productive area. Knowing your neighbors, seeing and reporting things are key components for this. This perpetuated several community clean-up projects. We also incorporated Zik V prevention to touch on the health aspect. There are areas of the community that are cleaner, but it still needs much work. My next plan of action is to start an Environmental Club and have children help with clean-up projects and build community garden areas. I can directly connect this back to the school in the fall. I also hope to build more garden beds and have the garden producing year round as a way to showcase small space capacity and engaging the youth.
So what will the Environmental Club meetings look like? They will look like early morning projects before the sun gets too hot. They will also look like children caring for the Earth, they will start on time, they will focus on subtle education within the projects. They will end on time and I will leave, kids unattended will not be my problem because I plan on several small group sessions and for me to be on time for the next group I must leave on time. This is the biggest issue I will face, parents in the summer will expect daycare to just be taken care of. It will take one child being left with a shop keeper for this to never happen again, but I will be very blunt with parents, if it happens their children will not be allowed to participate again. Sometimes you must make an example for it to have meaning.
Part of my major issue here, and it will likely never change is that no matter what you do, someone puts it down. Lately I have been told by a member of the group executive that I went about implementing my summer programs improperly. I did not ask the executive about it. Well actually dear, these are my projects. I brought them up only to allow the group to support it, I did not ask nor do I need your permission. I typically do not take credit for my projects, but in this case I am going to stand firm that it is my project, it is short term and something to fill my time. The other reason I am standing on this is that there seems to be an accusation that it is politically motivated. It is in fact NOT politically motivated it is motivated by a desire to make my time here at least help some, not be a waste of 2 years, which is what I am feeling at this point. In fact last week’s meeting I went home and took 2 days to talk myself out of leaving early. I am at that point, needing to see some type of positivity in the area and all I am getting is a reason to stay in bed and never leave my house, and this is not a good place to be at all.