As of Monday I will know which part of Jamrock I will spend the next two years at. So excited and so scared. There is not part of this island that will not be an amazing place to serve. Even if I am sent to areas that are not my ideal or dream location I will be alright. I will have to be, because this girl here, she never quits.
The last week has been full of class, classwork, farmer field school, beach parties, get togethers and much exhaustion. Last weekend I watched a football game between a few local men and two of the ladies from our group. It seems most of the rest of the group went to the beach early. Sunday was spent uneventful with laundry and packing my suitcase a priority. I like to get things done ahead of time. It also must be noted that since I pack according to what will fit where, not what I can find where, I had to unpack everything to find anything when we first got here. I knew I could pack much of my stuff and still be able to function for the next week.
Not certain why but I finally hit a wall on Tuesday. There was a group get together that evening and I just had a mental breakdown. I ended up icing my foot and drinking a couple of glasses of white wine. I stayed home and worked on some self-care, which is essential. I felt a little bad about missing out, but not really. I needed a night at home.
This week I may have got a clue to my location. Maybe, maybe not, what I do know is that someone was talking very highly of my new supervisor group and I was informed of that. This person works all over the island so I might know or then again I might now know, what I do for certain is that my new supervisors are a stellar group. That in itself is enough to make me happy. Happy to know that I will be working with a group that is excited about the environment and new ideas.
Farmer field school was Thursday. We started off with some music, because that is how we roll. We had a few riddles as ice breakers which is always fun. After this we broke down into three groups, one worked on planting trees in basins on the hillside, another group did composting and showed how to build a good compost, the last group worked on biochar. In the beginning I had reservations about the biochar. We had difficulty getting the necessary supplies, I had also heard that other farmer’s groups were not interested in biochar as a way to amend the soil. Strangely this farmer group was indeed very interested. All three of these components addressed the most pressing issue for many of the farmers on this side of the island, drought conditions and water conservation. All in all this was a well attended and very successful farmer field school. One of our language and cultural facilitator stated it was because we had a great reputation within the community. Mr. Brown, whose farm we used, stated three things he learned from us were: one, we are always on time, two we will pretty much do what is asked of us and follow directions, three we work together very well. To hear those things is quite uplifting, especially as PST winds down and we are all starting to hit walls. PST is so much more than classroom work, it is adapting to a new family, a new culture and learning what are acceptable and inappropriate behaviors. It is also about learning the way things are done in a new country. I am certain that no matter what country you are in, no matter what sector you will be placed PST is the same world-wide. PST, although essential to integration into new cultures is exhausting and will test your resilience.
There were times I did not think I was going to make it, and then there were times that I finally understood that I am stronger than I ever imagined, but I need to take time for myself. The one thing I took away from it all is that self care is not selfish but essential. Sometimes locking yourself in your room and listening to music or reading a book while you drink a glass or two of wine and enjoy a small treat is the best therapy. All those nights of being cranky and hot and tired and whatever other emotion you may be feeling are ultimately going to make you a stronger and better person. Embrace those trials, I have to keep reminding myself of this.
One of the first things I will do at my site is create a collage of hopes and dreams. Something to look at refocus, something to remind me of the small wins, because you must celebrate those! My days at the beach may be plenty, they may be few but in the end I will have the greatest adventure of my life, thus far.
After the field school we pretty much all took the afternoon to refresh at the beach with a few beers. It is always amazing to get those moments. I would not trade those for all the money in the world. Just being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that we will be living in this amazing place for the next two years is so very encouraging.
Yesterday we debriefed the farmer field school and talked about logistics for our move. We also had our final culture session and it was the best. It was called “Pon da Corna”. You see here in Jamaica on most nights, but especially Friday and Saturday, on most street corners will be a domino game, typically played upon a table made from scrap wood. The people here take their domino games very seriously. There is also music most nights. No one here believes in headphones. They just walk with their music blaring. I did just find out that there actually are noise ordinances here, but no one really calls the police, better to just suffer than create a neighbor dispute! Of course this requires either white rum or beer! In fact so does farming, I think my liver might thank me when I finally leave for home!
Tonight there is a going away party planned for us. We leave on Tuesday. My plan today is to just rest, I thought about going to the beach but that requires me to plan ahead and be back in time to shower and get ready before 4pm. That sounds like far too much effort. Tonight I might play card games with the family, if we get home early enough. I know that tomorrow is going to be laundry day, maybe a quick final beach trip and a great night of movies and more games with the family. My original plan was to get some photos printed this weekend, but that just is not possible. My host mom wanted some pictures of us, so I have some family pictures and hope that they enjoy them. I really wanted to pay for the pictures. I hope she can get them done on Monday before I leave on Tuesday.
Monday is the day we find out our site placement. On Tuesday we meet our supervisors and go to our new homes for the next four days. PST is not quite over, we have another week of last-minute logistics and preparation for swearing-in. I do look forward to the next two weeks and then the next chapter officially begins!