Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We are PCVs!!!

That's right, folks... as of Friday August 26, Jenni & Aubrey (the other 2 Michigan Tech Masters International students), I, and the rest of Jamaica Group 76 are officially Peace Corps Volunteers! Here is a picture of us just before our swearing in ceremony. It was great to be able to share this experience with good friends.

Here's a pre-swearing in picture of me and our bar owner, tender, and friend, Judy. Judy's Corner Stop is the bar in Heartease, St. Thomas, that helped me survive training.

We are now in our sites scattered throughout the island, and for me that's Montego Bay. I haven't actually been to "work" yet because when I arrived, the places they showed me were all rooms in people's homes. Though in general I had a good homestay experience, I am ready to move into my own place.

Like Jenni mentioned in her online journal (http://travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/jennipost/jamaica/1125076620/tpod.html), I was initially not envisioning being in a large city with many tourists. And we do get treated like tourists... a lot. I swear, if I hear the soldiers deck of cards story from a hustler on the Hip Strip one more time. In such a place, it seems impossible to become "integrated in the community" as Peace Corps so dutifully preaches. But what I'm finding is that there is an integration that takes place. You get to know the people working places you go a lot (like Doctor's Cave beach!), the drivers forever trying to get you to take their taxis, even the guy who "entertains" you with that story you've heard 12 times before. And after a while, they know you. You become part of that fabric, however tattered it seems. I'm a long way off from that right now, of course, but I can just begin to see it.

It's great to see the responses and comments on here. Please keep posting! I'll do my best to keep y'all updated on me and my awesome life in Jamaica.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Greetings from Jamaica!

Hi folks!

Well it's taken me a few weeks to get this going, but I'm up and running now! I'm soon wrapping up my Peace Corps training in Jamaica and preparing to head to my site. My site will be in Farm Heights, a community "up the hill" on the southern side of Montego Bay. To be honest, initially I was a bit put off by the idea of going to MoBay, but after spending a week and a very long weekend there, I am in better spirits about the idea. There's a good crew of volunteers in the area and I won't have any problems finding indulgences like Blue Mountain Coffee, the finest coffee in all the world, grown right here in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. My time will be split between the Western Regional Health Authority and Farm Heights United Church with its school and medical clinic.

I'm happy to be sharing my experience with 2 other cool cats from Michigan Tech's MI Program, Aubrey and Jenni. It's been great having friends to go through training with, especially in the last few days. We had 4 people in our water sanitation training group ET (early terminate) following COW (community orientation week). Relationships at home and discontent with assignments seemed to dominate discussions about why, but in the end, they all seemed to feel their hearts were elsewhere. Good luck, Slim, Bree, Paul, and Dan, and may you find what you're looking for.

I'm gonna sign off for now so I can get out to our local spring or the beach this afternoon! I'll post pics and more updates of my experience in the near future. As we say in Jamaica, SOON COME!

Peace and love,

PS Here's my address. Like all Peace Corps people, I LOVE letters and packages!

Andrew Snauffer
c/o Suchet Loois, Peace Corps Country Director
US Peace Corps
8 Worthington Avenue
Kingston 5 Jamaica West Indies