|By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 9:08 am: Edit Post|
Volunteers arrive in Jamaica
Volunteers arrive in Jamaica
Largest group of US Peace Corps volunteers arrives in Jamaica
Monday, July 14, 2003
Some of the 77 new Peace Corps Volunteers who arrived in Jamaica last week.
SEVENTY-SEVEN US Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) arrived in Jamaica last week and have started a seven-week training programme in their areas of work, as well as in Jamaican language and culture.
The volunteers, the largest number to serve in Jamaica, are based at the University of the West Indies, but will live and work in communities throughout the island, dealing with issues such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention, youth employment, small business, water and sanitation, environmental management, health, and information technology.
"This is something that I feel called to do," says 53 year-old James Weldon Price of Greensboro, North Carolina. Price will work on local environmental programmes. "I really am looking forward to being here, and maybe, in some small way, making a difference for the people of Jamaica."
Peace Corps Jamaica's country director, Dr Suchet Loois, says the volunteers, dubbed "Group 74", have made history in Jamaica. "This is the first time that Peace Corps Jamaica has welcomed a group that large," says Loois. "This is the first batch of Peace Corps Volunteers to begin the implementation of Peace Corps growth in Jamaica, as a result of President George W Bush's executive order to double the number of volunteers worldwide -- from 7,000 to 13,000 -- in five years."
According to Loois, the aim locally is to double to 200, the number of volunteers by the year 2005.
The 77 new Peace Corps Volunteers will spend the next five weeks undergoing community-based training in Jamaican language and culture, staying in the homes of average Jamaicans in Old Harbour Bay, Linstead and Tryall Heights in St Catherine, to get first-hand experiences of Jamaican culture and day-to-day life.
Christina Marie Sanders, a Peace Corps Volunteer from Illinois, says she is looking forward to learning more about other cultures during her two years in Jamaica, working in HIV/AIDS education. "Hopefully I'll learn more about how to work with kids and how to work with people of a different culture," she says. "Basically a lot of growth in general for me."
William Edward Stewart Jr, of Mississippi, is a graduate student who plans to work on the waste water and sanitation project. He says that Jamaica was his first choice.
"Peace Corps is part of the requirements for the Masters in International [Relations] programme at Michigan Technological University, and Jamaica was fortunately the place that Peace Corps gave me to choose, as my first option," he says.
Their friend, Lucretia "Lucy" Rose Schultz, will be working on the Youth-at-Risk programme. She says she is looking forward to helping children. "I'm really looking forward to getting out there and really building some relationships and listening to some issues and helping them to try to work things out. That's what I'm here for."
The volunteers' training is being conducted under the leadership of Peace Corps Jamaica training officer Eric Williams, assisted by seven technical trainers and 16 community facilitators, most of whom are from the communities where the training sites are located.
Members of the new volunteer group will join the two other groups of PCVs who are in their first and second years on the island, providing service at the grassroots level to Jamaicans.
PCVs work through community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations and at government agencies to train and empower communities to become self-reliant. A total of 160 volunteers are now in the country.
The newly-arrived PCVs will be sworn in at a special ceremony on August 22 at the Rex Nettleford Hall at the University of the West Indies.
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