I am not a runner. I run. I run after soccer balls, basketballs, lacrosse balls, nieces, nephews and to the dance floor when I hear my jam. But simply running just to run has never been my cup of tea. That blissful runners high that I hear so much about is a myth in my life.
That’s about right. That being said, I have made a few friends who are annoyingly fit (Cindy, I am talking about you and all your Boot Camp buddies) and they used peer pressure to get me to sign up for a 5K run. This particular run was sponsored by Digicel and it took place through downtown Kingston at night. I figured it was one of the only times I would get to see some of the area because it is not usually the safest.
We had to get plenty of approval and had safety and security restrictions. Claire, Chantal, Cindy and I got to travel with the US Embassy Team who were all very welcoming to the scrubby Peace Corps Volunteers.
We all finished! Yayyyyyy! Chantal is a killer runner and she did great. Claire and I are less runners but had a great time dance running our way through. I didn’t reach a zen like bliss but I did begrudgingly have fun. I let these kooks talk me into signing up for the Reggae Marathon 10K. I have no doubt my smile will be much more strained after that one.
Summer camp time! I had a mixed experience with camp last year, you can see a bit of it here. While it was great to get to interact with students everyday, the lack of organization and focus made it a frustrating week at times. It felt to me like a missed opportunity to engage with the students more effectively. When planning started in the spring of this year, we spent a lot more time as a planning committee discussing what subjects would be covered during the camp. We also decided that the best way to get the resources needed for a successful camp was to apply for a Small Project Assistance (SPA) grant funding that is available from Peace Corps in conjunction with USAID. It is a great way for Volunteers and their organizations to learn the process of international grant funding and in the process provide importnat financial assistance to Volunteer projects. Our project was a summer camp was titled Operation CHANGE (we love an acronym).
“The Clarendon Peace and Justice Center (CPJC) was established in 2009 with the flagship service, the School Suspension Programme. The School Suspension Programme (SSP) uses content and funding from the Dispute Resolution Foundation that offers services to students who have been suspended from participating area schools. SSP offers the students opportunity to learn effective ways to deal with conflict, anger and behavioral issues all while in a safe and controlled environment.”
For the summer camp we targeted students who had attended the SSP during the year and were between the ages of 13-17, male and female, and available for the duration of camp.
Each of the 8 days of camp had a central lesson on subjects that were designed to give students the tools to deal with issues within themselves such as self-esteem, anger management, and coping with grief, as well as those influences they will face outside of themselves such as peer pressure, sexually transmitted infections, and conflict resolution. The camp used a process of education and training that was discussion based but also uses role-playing, creative writing, music and art to enforce the main objectives
One of the unexpected but very positive elements during the camp was the presence of two male National Youth Service Volunteers who were working at CPJC though the first week of camp. We spoke to the young men before camp about having them involved and our expectations for their behavior as volunteer staff members. They brought such a positive influence to the group dynamic, that we asked if they would stay on the next week of camp beyond their NYS charter. It was great to have an extra pair of hands to help with tasks like preparing the lunches but more importantly one of the young men had previously been a student of the School Suspension Program and after his time there, he was able to make positive decisions in his life and is working on getting accepted into college. It was powerful to have young men who were not much older than the students, being active in pursuing positive futures for their lives.
Personally one of my favorite memories from camp was during the student representative giving the vote of thanks. They said some of the activities they really enjoyed and said thank you to each of the staff members. When it came to me, the student said “we want to thank Miss Marie for always having so much energy and for always telling us that our art was good even though we know it wasn’t.” It was such a humorous thing to share and from the beginning stages of planning it was really important to me that we create a space where even those who are not natural artists, fell comfortable to share. It made me feel very proud of all we had accomplished.
”In the end, this project was able to fostering the needs of the participants from the SSP program which program will strengthened the student’s skills by providing, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills necessary to ensure that they are competitive for school and have employable skills. Specifically, we believe that ultimate goal was achieved, to ensure that at the end of the camp the youths will have increased self-confidence, improved communication skills, a greater capacity for leadership, and higher self-esteem. “
SOOOOO glad to not have that nagging at me. Now I just need to write a dang blog post about it. I know, I know, I’m a slacker.
I want you to look at this picture.
Really stare at it.
HEY, I mean it.
What do you see?
Just a stack of cheese sandwiches on white bread?
They are magical Jamaican cheese in a fluffy bread three way. Let me start by saying I am a wheat bread girl, born and bred (heh heh), the grainy and darker, the better. My parents abhorred white bread and we NEVER had processed yellow cheese in my house. So don’t look towards my parents to explain my addiction.
I remember the day well; Group 83′s first on island, we were all dressed up and delirious from 3 hours sleep the night before, and that’s when I saw them sitting in the buffet table seductively encased in cellophane. I asked for two on my plate, best to not seem overeager I thought, and as I took my first bite, I was confused.
What is in this?
How is just cheese and white bread so delicious?
I was forced to reevaluate all that I knew about food. From that day forward, every Peace Corps event is wrought with excitement over the possibility of triangle filled delights. My bestie Claire and I have often spoken of our love of the cheese sandwiches, perhaps it is what bonded us so tightly together, I’d like to think so.
This is Asafa Powell. He is a Jamaican Track star who has won several Olympic Medals. He has recently been caught up in a doping scandal with other Jamaican athletes.
Chantal was visiting for the weekend and we got invited to watch Drag Races. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet Asafa.
Our hosts asked is we wanted a picture because they are friends and called him over. It was slightly embarrassing but he was nice enough. Good times.