Jamaica Journal-1

Week 1 is done- a week that was equal parts nervous excitement and a sense of home and belonging. Dive in to a few musings from this week.

Work Week 1 

Whatever slight nervousness I had abated as soon as I walked in the doors to the office- everyone at the organization is so warm and supportive, the atmosphere is energetic and positive. Every member of the organization made me feel welcome, and I was instantly pulled in to collaborative meetings and conversations. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. Meeting with my supervisor and discussing the projects lined up made me feel genuinely equipped to start working. My main focus will be designing and implementing a Lifelong Learning project; a collaboration between the organization where I work and the Ministry of Education. Specifically, we are working to develop video based online learning material for support the professional development of school heads and leaders. My role, as of right now, is to read through an existing manual, siphon out relevant topic areas, consult and discuss with the representatives and curriculum experts at the Ministry level, and work together to help towards building something usable for their program.

This project also has some field work – we will be going to make videos in schools, which is something I am very excited about!

The first school we visited- I especially loved the bright colours and murals that adorned the walls of the school.

These first school visits were as a part of the Ministry team to determine if aspects of the video component of the project could be shot at these short-listed schools. Each school has a program in place that was of specific interest to the Ministry. One school has a mentorship initiative to promote boys to stay in school. Another school has specialized teaching and learning spaces for students who have gaps in their education where they learn at a different academic pace to ensure grade level learning. A fact that stood out to me was the national focus placed on boys education at all levels, and retention of male students across schools. This emphasis is in contrast to experiences I’ve known as an educator and a student throughout my life, driving home the importance of context and culture in development work. The school visits with the Ministry and the interactions with the school leaders and teachers, hearing them speak about their students, their successes, and also their failures was incredibly informative; emphasizing the importance of perspective from as many stakeholders as possible!

One of the classroom spaces for the adapted learning program

Alongside the Lifelong Learning work, I am involved in curating psychosocial support material from the organizations own online training modules, and other certified training modules to see what can be implemented in more general sense- to be used to train youth in schools or communities where there isn’t a designated staff member or representative to fulfill the role as a councillor or psychiatrist would.
I may also get to work with on projects related to HIV, sexuality education, and adolescents, since adolescent healthcare education is a key area of interest for me. All in all, I have enough and more to engage with and I am truly excited for the oncoming weeks.

Life Week 1

The mountains, in all their rain fueled glory. This was a picture taken from a beautiful little cafe/restaurant about a 45 minute uphill drive from where I live.

Aspects of Kingston, and what (little) I have seen of Jamaica thus far remind me of home- India. This may well be because as a human I try and seek out the familiar in an unfamiliar place, or may be because Jamaica actually has a significant population of Indian Jamaicans, and there is some overlap in our histories. Whatever motivates this, I am grateful for the feeling in the face of so much newness. It’s only been a week, so life has consisted of finding a place to stay (done), going grocery shopping (oh! The joy of seeing Indian food ingredients in all the grocery stores Ive been to), exploring the food in the area, and figuring out transport- taxis (both shared and individual) are the main mode of travel, I’ve been told. However, I have two favourite parts of settling in in Kingston, the first being mangoes.

Mango season has just started, and the trees are laden with the fruit. Fresh mangoes are in abundance, and are delectable. My love for unripe mango with salt and chili powder can be satiated through the Jamaican counterpart- the green mango with salt and pepper I have been told about but have not yet tried! I’m looking forward to a summer filled with sour, sweet, and flavourful mangoes.

The second piece to my happiness here is the shared love for cricket! While this sport gets little to no attention back home in Philadelphia, here I have people to watch the matches and discuss statistics with, and learn more about team strategizing from! The icing on then cake is that this internship period coincides with the Cricket World Cup, so every morning, Michael, Lloyd, and I spend a few minutes discussing the first innings that took place (the matches start at 4:30 AM Jamaica time), and checking in with each other about the second innings. It really is a wonderful way to start the work day.

I’ve only just begun- it’s evident that I’ve not even scraped the surface of what work and life in Kingston has to offer- and I welcome all that this journey brings with an open mind and heart.

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