We’ve done it! Training is over! O-V-E-R!!!
I won’t lie – I did a victory dance for a good ten minutes.
The last two weeks of training were the most hectic, but by far the most rewarding. After leaving Ewarton, Education and Environment returned to Kingston for numerous nights of shenanigans. But I won’t divulge too much; what happens at Mayfair stays at Mayfair. But I can tell you about Language Olympics, Site Orientation Week, and the much anticipated Swearing In Ceremony.
On Monday, about two weeks ago, our training session included a series of games designed to test our knowledge and different components of culture. Each sector was asked to select four Olympians to represent the group in an intimidating Q&A session. Environment knew who their Olympians were, but Education somehow missed that memo.
So we randomly threw four people to the wolves, and I was chosen as one of them. Sitting at a table in front of the room, facing our opponents, my fellow Olympian leaned over. “I have no idea what I’m doing up here,” she whispered. “Me neither,” I returned, swallowing a lump of nervousness. We were not prepared. We didn’t study. Education was going to lose.
And then the game began.
I really ought to have more confidence in myself, because I retained far more from my language/culture lessons than I’d realized. For every five questions we were asked, I knew the answer to four of them. I amazed myself, and my sector-mates. “How did you remember all that stuff!?” they asked me later. I shrugged and shook my head, still unsure of the answer.
When the Q&A portion ended, the rest of the sectors joined in for relay races and a culturally appropriate bowling tournament. The competition was tight, and the scores were close, but Education won by the skin of our teeth. I received a couple of pats on the back then, and enjoyed my fifteen minutes of fame.
The next day, we met our supervisors. For Education, they were the principals of our schools, but I can’t speak for Environment. They came from all over Jamaica, as eager and nervous to meet us as we were to meet them. Peace Corps provided us with a fun icebreaker, and then a smooth transition into discussing our hopes and expectations of each other. Later, we re-congregated for a buffet lunch, and afterward, the trainees took all of their bags and dispersed. It was time to finally go to our sites.
That’s right, folks. I finally have a site! I am located in Cedar Valley, St. Thomas. It is up in the mountains, twelve miles from the tallest peak in Jamaica. The weather up there is beautiful; it’s about ten to fifteen degrees cooler, and the scene is a breathtaking one. My home and host mother are wonderful, and my school and supervisor is just as fantastic. I am one of five volunteers from G84 to join the St. Thomas crowd. My nearest volunteer is from G82, and eight miles downhill. I’ve already been invited to join the St. Thomas PCV’s in their weekly Saturday lunches down in Morant Bay, which is a forty minute ride down the mountain.
During the four days that I spent at site, I had opportunity to meet some of the people in my community, the students and teachers at my school, and get myself acquainted with Morant Bay, which is where I will go to do most of shopping. I met the police officers in Cedar Valley and acquired the names and numbers of a few reliable taxi and bus drivers.
Other things I like about my site:
- The school doubles as a hurricane shelter
- internet is strong in my area
- steep hills provide a great workout
- my host mom isn’t opposed to me getting a cat!
We returned to Mayfair by Saturday afternoon for our last week of training. Some of the questions we’d had for nine weeks were finally answered, and some of the security measures they’d enforced were a little more laxed.
It was nice to have that last week together before we split up again for another three months. Two of our units at the hotel had kitchens installed, so we made trips to the supermarket and bought pasta, pancake mix, and various other delicious foods to cook. We ordered a plethora of pizza and consumed a generous amount of alcohol. One more week until we’re accountable for our actions, right?
And finally, before we knew it, the week was over. Tomorrow, we wake up, put on our formal attire, and proceed to the Ambassador’s residence for our long-awaited Swearing In Ceremony.
We will conclude our training and be sworn-in as the next group of Peace Corps Volunteers. The staff, our training specialists, our supervisors, and members of the US Embassy and Jamaican congress will all be in attendance.
But I’ve save the best part for last.
Each sector was asked to select one person to give a speech during the ceremony. Guess who Education voted for?
This girl right here!