|By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 11:37 am: Edit Post|
Summer Austin - Volunteer in Jamaica
Summer Austin - Volunteer in Jamaica
"Last year, we obtained funding for a summer camp and I was able to take two groups of 30 school kids in a bus around the parish to experience and explore the waterfalls, coral reefs, and mountain tops that are literally in their back yards, yet it was the first time these kids had ever been to any of these places. Tourists visit these attractions daily, but proprietors charge too high of an entrance fee to allow many locals the luxury. Seeing the looks on their faces as they hiked in the cool Blue Mountains, or lifted their heads from snorkeling and yelled, 'Miss, Miss, there's fish down there!' This was truly one of the most happiest moments of my life."
When did you begin your Peace Corps Training, how long was training, how many in your group?
Began: July 1999, training was 1 month, 67 persons in my group.
Who do you work for?
I work for the community members of Portland via the Portland Environment Protection Association.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I prepare environmental education materials for teachers at various schools around the parish. I also help organize educational events, contests, and seminars designed to raise the community's awareness of local environmental issues.
What are some of the difficult challenges you have faced?
Obtaining the support from the local parish council with community clean-up projects has been unsuccessful. Increasing the motivation of Portland citizens to take responsibility for garbage management is a slow and frustrating process.
Where do you live, how far from work, peace corps office, from other volunteers, what are the amenities, utilities like?
I live in Port Antonio, Portland, about a 15 minutes walk from the PEPA office. The Peace Corps office is in Kingston, about a two and a half-hour's drive from where I live. Many volunteers, (6), live in Portland, each no more than a half-hour away from me. The amenities here can vary drastically, depending on whether you live in "the bush" or in town. Most houses close to the center of Port Antonio have a connection to the main water line and receive "pipe water". This is not reliable, however and can be "locked off" when supplies run short. Most homes farther from town share a community stand pipe, where most times the children of the house will be sent each morning and evening to collect buckets and jugs full of water. Most people have electricity, but this is also shut-off periodically. Some Rastafarians refuse to obtain electricity; they see it as government "elecTRICKSity". All necessities can be purchased in the variety of stores in Port Antonio.
How do you get around?
I get around Port Antonio by walking and riding my bicycle. Any movement out of town is done by public transportation (taxi cars and buses).
What do you do for fun?
I mostly relax and "reason" with my friends, or go to the beach at Long Bay, sometimes I go out at night and enjoy "old hits" reggae and dance. I also like to visit my friends in the valley and take a nice swim in the river. I catch big stage shows if the artists are hot.
How much do you get paid?
I get paid 22,000 Jamaican dollars each month ($485 USD).
What's been the best experience so far?
Experiencing Capelton at Bob Marley's yard in Nine Miles, it was blazing.
What's been the worst experience so far?
Witnessing child abuse and neglect.
Would you do it again? What would you do different?
Any advice for UF grad thinking about Peace Corps service...
Keep an open mind and practice flexibility, patience, and perseverance. Drop all your expectations about your Peace Corps experience and you will not be disappointed.
What are your plans after PC service?
Volunteering to help others in my own country.