In every sport I played in high school, they all had one thing in common; Hell Week. Hell Week is typically the first week of the sport where the conditioning is the absolute worst. You could always tell who the athletes were just by looking at how they walked down the halls. Three times a year I would push my body to its absolute max with hopes that I would get in shape quicker. This past week of training is fairly similar, only instead of your body going through all that agony, your brain feels it. There is just so much that we have to know about the ship and the company, and they only have so much time. Ergo, the first week of training is all about stuffing as much information as possible into our crowded “rooms,” with the expectation that we retain most all of the info (eventually). It’s super crazy and can be overwhelming. At one point, I am almost certain I had cerebral fluid leaking out my ears; something exploded.
As it turned out that explosion was a good thing. I was able to compartmentalize all the information, and to my surprise, I retained a lot more than I ever imagined I would retain (especially since my note-taking was minimal). Day after day, the important information would be repeated, so by the end of the week, it all comes around. On top of HR training, we have on the job training. What does that mean? Well, I can only speak for my department, Youth Activities (YA), but it means more power point presentations, along with “floor time” (experiencing all the different sections/activities available), and a week of shadowing another counselor.
Throughout our training, we get these awesome red tags that say “Earning My Ears.” This is a small blessing. Everyone knows you’re new to the ship; therefore, everyone says, “Welcome aboard!” as we pass each other in the hallways. It’s also a “get out of jail free” card. Essentially, this just means that we can get away with “rookie” mistakes since we’re still learning. Also, no matter if you look lost or are just wondering around, if a fellow crew member sees that you’re in distress, they will ask you if you need help figuring out which path you need to take in order to get to your final destination.
This week I get to start my official training on the job training. I am going to shadow someone as they teach me the ways of creating magical moments. Next week Sunday I will get the honors of taking off my red tag to no longer be a new hire! YAY!!! I hope I can get the hang of everything, though. It is a lot of what I have done in the past, but I have to learn how protocol n thing works here. I am super stoked to get started, though. I think I am going to enjoy working with the kids. I’ll be working with children 3-12, mostly 3-7, though (Oceanear Club). You should go over to the DCL website and check out all the super awesome stuff that the kids get to do! I would give you a link, but I’m at a mall using the free wifi and well, it’s free, sooo service connection isn’t really the best. Haha..
Oh and great news! I don’t get sea sick! Haha..The first few days were a little challenging, but I think I finally got my “sea legs” as I can barely feel the ship’s movement anymore.
And my friends on the ship… Last week I have been hanging out with the other two girls in my training group (Mariana and Jessi ). They are both from Mexico and I adore them. I wish they could come home with me and meet all my friends, because they would just fit so perfectly! The people in my department (Youth Activities) are pretty awesome as well. There are 2 other Crystals (all spell it the same way), one from Colorado and the other from South Africa; 3 Crystals in the YA department!! It might get a little confusing.
There are also a whole heap of Jamaican crew members! I LOVE IT! I miss Jamaica, and having all of them around makes me at home. I am more comfortable around the Jamaicans than I am around the Americans, haha. So, on the name tags that we all wear, it has our name and the country we’re from. As I walk around, I can tell who the Jamaicans are, then as I get closer to them and confirm they’re Jamaican, I shout out a nice “Yoo, wah gwaan,” to them and dem just stop in dem tracks and look at me in udder confusion, “A how dis white girl know Jamaican?” haha.. it’s funny. But they all make me feel part of the family. If I’m around a Jamaican and his/her friend comes along (that doesn’t know me), they say, “Yo, a yaadie dis, enuh!” basically telling their friend that I’m Jamaican and understand tings. Haha. Being friends with the Jamaicans as really helped out my transition on board. It really makes me happy and I am forever grateful for all my family in Jamaica.
Well, I have to get going! I have to leave this mall in a bit to head back to the ship to get ready for work! I no longer will have my US number, so don’t try to call it. But you can download 2 apps to get ahold of me; Whatsapp – which is texting and is linked to my Jamaican number or Viber which is linked to my US number. I should be able to grab some internet a couple times a week as I have purchased a Bahamian SIM card. So you can send me texts there, and I will receive them when I get the chance. So far, so good!
Let’s just state the obvious: I have not updated this blog in quite some time. Reason being, I was waiting for my plans to materialize. Also, due to my departure in the next couple of hours, this post will be short. Also.. yes, I changed the name of my blog. I am no longer living in Jamaica, and I’m kind of on this life adventure right now, so yeah. I felt the change was appropriate.
First off, I had an amazing time in Portugal and London!!! I am so happy that I went on that trip and was able to experience all the adventures and make new friends.
Upon my arrival, I continued with my Disney Cruise Line (DCL) paperwork. Everything is set! I am leaving for the airport in a couple hours, and heading to Orlando, Florida where I’ll be staying in a Disney Resort hotel until Sunday morning! Now, don’t think this will all be only fun in the sun. For the next 2 days, I will be learning a whole heap of Safety and Security specifically for Ship-life. Sunday morning, 5am, they will bus us to our port and we embark! I am pretty sure I have a week or two of more training while ON the ship, as well.
I’ve never been on a cruise before. The closest I’ve come to a cruise is the boats at Navy Pier. I think all will be good, though!
Will I have internet? – I was told that personal internet is something like $20 for 200mins. But they do have staff computers for free internet (I think?). So I might only have internet when I can catch free wifi at the ports.
Will I have a phone? – I read somewhere that I could possibly purchase a SIM card for my phone, but I don’t know the cost of it. I’m trying to save as much money as possible.
Do I get free Disney World/Land Passes? – All I am certain of, is that while under contract, I get free access to Disney Parks. I am not sure what else I get. So just calm down people. No, I cannot get you a free/discounted cruise.
What exactly am I going to be doing? – That is a GREAT question! My job title is Youth Activities Counselor. So all I know, is that I will be working with the youth; perhaps “controlling the mayhem.”
Where will I be going? – I am on the Disney Dream [for now] and will be all over the Caribbean! Hello warm weather! Welcome back to the Caribbean!
When will you be back? – A couple weeks after my birthday.
Do you have an address? – Yes! I love mail!
What is it? – (WRITE IT AS YOU SEE IT) And no, I have no clue what those numbers mean. I just copied and pasted the address myself.
Disney Cruise Line
Crystal Aeppli, Youth Activities Counselor Perner #00870995
Cape Canaveral, FL 32920-9005
OKAY!! I am going to finish getting myself ready…READY TO LEAVE THIS COLD, NASTY WINTER! I am soo happy to get out of this cold! I appreciate all of everyone who reads my blogs, and apologize for my somewhat laziness of not updating more often. But I’m officially “going off the grid” for a little bit!
As the card that Kimmy gave me the other day said, “Girl, you’re on a roll!” And it’s true, that I am! I finally have some concrete plans in my life and it feels darn great! I mean, after 2 part-time not-so-fun jobs, come the beginning of next year, I will have a FULL-TIME position (for 4.5months), but hey, nothing else is coming my way.
Once my paperwork and thing get processed, I should hopefully get assigned to a Disney Cruise Line ship. They offer 4.5 month contracts, then a break, then hopefully another contract, and so on. We’ll see what happens, right?! The job I applied for was Youth Activities Counselor. I’ve never been on a cruise line, but from the descriptions, it pretty much seems like it’s gonna be glorified day care…on a Disney Cruise Line. Basically, I’m just gonna be SUPER HAPPY (with no other choice) for 4.5months! Hey, it’s a job and I’m thankful for it and super stoked. One of the many awesome perks about working on this cruise line is that I’ll be working with people from ALL OVER THE WORLD! I love travelling, and since I’ve never been able to really go travel the world, working with people from different cultural backgrounds is gonna be so much fun!
Speaking of world travels…I’M GOING TO PORTUGAL!!! I’m super stoked!! I have this perfect opportunity; ie MJ is over there studying for her Master’s Degree, so I have a tour guide and free place to stay. I get to see MJ, Portugal, AND my family in London! When we figured out we’d transit through London, I called up Uncle Philip and Auntie Fancita’s daughter, asked if we could stay, and she said YES! I have only spoken to her a few times, and we’ve missed each other on visits: about a month after I left Jamaica, she visited Jamaica.
I have a very adventurous life ahead of me and I’m happy about it. I thought I was ready to settle down, but apparently God is telling me wait. I know that when I’m finished with DCL, there will be opportunities ready for me. Being a nomad isn’t such a terrible thing right now. I have family and friends who support me; what more could a girl ask for?
In the meantime, before I skip out on yet another frigid winter, I am trying to do all things fun and see all my friends and family! The other weekend I about froze all my limbs off in Madison, WI. A friend of mine asked if I would play in an outdoor Ultimate Frisbee tourney, and well.. I couldn’t say no. I mean, the weather couldn’t be THAT cold, right? Maybe 30′s, 20′s… NO SAH! When we get there.. 17 degrees outside..MINUS the windchill! I’m sure it was close to zero or below zero!! It doesn’t matter, to me, it’s all the same. And no, running around did not make you warmer. The ground was frozen, making it difficult to grip in order to sprint, stop, stand, play defense…play..ha.. and everyone’s hands were frozen, tears dripping down our faces from the icy wind. We had fun.
Needless to say, I opted out of playing in day 2 of the tourney. Instead, I attended a Friendsgiving! A bunch of my friends and I went over to Rachel and Thor’s and did Thanksgiving potluck style! Such a lovely day/evening with friends. And yes, there was even a turkey AND a vegan something or another-type turkey thing.
I spent Thanksgiving in Sandwich. YES. I did miss my dad’s cooking! Soooo gooood! Mmmm… Mommy picked me up in Geneva, then drove to me to Daddy’s. Thanksgiving dinner was just me and Daddy, then my friend Jami stopped by later where I dove in for round 2 of T-Day food while we caught up on each other’s lives. Friday morning Dad drove me back to Oak Park, where I napped seeing as I had to work at Old Navy from 3:30pm-2:30am (store closed at 11). From 11pm-2:30am we were cleaning and reorganizing the store…and it still never finished. Holiday Shopping is NOT an excuse to act like a wild animal with no manners, so stop trynna make it one! We do NOT get paid enough money to clean up an entire flipping store! *glares*
Back to being happy: Last night Kim, Kurt, and I hosted a Christmas movie night watching “Babes in Toyland” with another bunch of friends. All but 2 people had seen the movie. It was a treat for us all as we bundled on the couch and watched the 1961 version of the musical tale of Mary and Tom. This will also continue all through the Christmas season; different people hosting for different movies. I also figured out that cookies are easier to bake in cooler temperatures.
Exhibit A – Pinwheel Christmas Cookies made in Queensbury, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica Last year December:
Exhibit B – Pinwheel Christmas Cookies made in Oak Park, Illinois, US December 2 of this year:
In Jamaica, the cookie dough never hardened enough for me to have the colors separate; instead they just melted together. Also, having amenities to make cookies! OH MY GOSH! My butter and sugar mixture was creamier than whipping cream after about 3mins of a Kitchen Aid. My biceps were definitely ripped, after baking cookies in JA. haha Guess I can’t complain too much.
I have been missing Jamaica a LOT lately, though. I’m looking on the QCCA Facebook page, and seeing all the fun stuff going on…man! I wish I could be there! It’s always fun and busy around this time of year, too; with the Miss Queensbury Crowning, and all. *Sigh* I miss Aunty Daphne’s cooking, random chats with Snagga, Shaddiik, Robbie, everyone, really. I miss teasing Tamor about Bertha (her car that needs to be put down, for everyone’s good). I miss my kids at school. I miss ridin the bus to Town to see Miss Icy. I miss public transportation! Seriously! A few times here [in Chicago] I’ve JUST missed the bus (by seconds), and they just move on without a care. You missed the bus..your fault. UGH! In Jamaica, the bus/taxi will stop, back-up, turn-around, whatever it needs to do in order to make sure you get your ride! They need that money and know that it’s customer loyalty, too! It was so nice to not be on a schedule, ha. :-) Food! I miss how all my veggies were practically free, or if not, I could get them at a cheap price. Not here! Simple stuff like scallion and carrot.. I’ve had to purchase scallion! Never had to do that in JA! NEVER!
I miss the PCJ staff…I miss my NURSES!! Vi and Clarista, who are amazing! I miss going into the office, thinking it’s gonna be a “quick” stop, then chatting with Ann about life. It’s true, you know.. you really don’t know what you got til it’s gone. If there are any PCVs (present or future) reading this, just know that time is gonna fly. There are gonna be times you hate it, but ultimately, it’s gonna be super awesome and you WILL miss it when you leave.
I must get ready for my next winter activity! Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago, maybe some ice skating, I dunno!!
As you can see, I have been quite busy lately! I wanted to update my blog, but I was just waiting for more solidified answers n thing before doing so. I didn’t want to write pure nonsense and boring stuff!! I hope this suffices, especially for the long delay.
Wait, what? WARM? Did she just say she’s WARMING up? There were snow flurries the other day, and she’s WARM?
Ah yes…I am, indeed, warming up. My blood is finally getting a little thicker. A month ago I was wearing multiple layers in 70-degree weather while playing Ultimate; people thought I was weird, but I was super cold. 70′s and running around, and I.was.cold. Now that the weather keeps dropping to 30′s-40′s, freezing is an almost an understatement of how I feel err was feeling. After a few consistent cold days, and an entire day outside in rainy weather, I am finally warming up.
The other morning I walked to the green line stop (bout 1.5ish miles from where I am staying) and had my first REAL breath of COLD air. Was I cold my entire journey? You bet! Did I jog a bit to stay warm? Oh yeah! The best part of walking: no matter how cold I was, my lungs missed breathing the crisp, fresh air. I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy the taste of it all. What my lungs forgot; however, was that when you run in the cold, it tends to be a little harder to work. My lungs might have enjoyed the slow-pace, but the rest of my body disagreed and needed more blood pumping added with some perspiration to keep warm, so I was forced to jog. After about 2mins of jogging, my lungs hated the rest of my body. I don’t think my lungs have had to work so hard in such a long time! They are definitely out of [cold weather] shape. No matter how much I prepare, though, I’m sure that once the below zero weather hits, it will be the rudest of awakenings.
Not only am I warming up physically n literally, but I am also warming up figuratively, I think. I REALLY wish I could get a job by the end of November. Or at least a job offer that starts at the beginning of next year. I HATE being in this limbo. It’s the most annoying spot to be, ever. I apply for jobs, but am a little afraid to leave to go anywhere, cuz well, what if I get an interview while I’m gone? Ugh.. then if/when I stay, I get no interview and I miss out on opportunity. Cho man.. I’ve decided that, if I don’t have any job prospects in the next couple of weeks, I’m just gonna book my tickets n disappear for a month-ish. Might as well enjoy life while nothing is holding me back. Then, when I come back, I will have a fresh, new start! :-)
Full-time job searching is definitely NOT fun. Sometimes I just think about just travelling. Instead of trying to find a job/career path, and instead, just travel. I have nothing really stopping me from travelling. I have enough money to do it, and I definitely know how NOT to spend money. I have no work schedule to consider. Why not? Perhaps it’s not the BEST thing for my future? Maybe it is? I dunno. I just feel so trapped sometimes.
Sitting on a computer all day searching for jobs is depressing. If I’m lucky, I get responses back from organizations telling me that I have no chance with them; which I’m content with that. At least I know to stop wondering/waiting. It is the places that just leave it be, and keep me in the dark forever questioning if my resume was even looked at.
In my month back, I have “gotten back in there,” if you will. I’m not just sitting at home all day, every day. I joined an Ultimate Frisbee team, made a couple new friends, reconnected with old friends, scored some short-term work, and continued to keep up with my physical fitness. Nothing came easy, though.
My first two tournaments playing Ultimate were just awful. First of all, I hadn’t played competitive Ultimate in over 2 years. Yeah, I played in JA, but it was completely different; little to no strategy, more like playing pick-up. My skills took up until this last tournament (the regional tournament, basically the last one of the year) to get even remotely near to where they were when I last played in the States. Honestly, at first, I was thinking that this would be my last season of club Ultimate. I just wasn’t sure it was “my thing” anymore. I had lived 2 years where Ultimate wasn’t the main thing in my life, as it was for 5 years prior to me leaving. Since my freshman year of college (2006) I practically lived, breathed, and ate Ultimate 24/7, 365. You couldn’t say my name and NOT associate Ultimate Frisbee with it. So one could imagine if I were thinking about not playing again, how “weird” it would sound. But again, Ultimate just wasn’t (isn’t?) “me” anymore. I have found new ways to define myself; Jamaica, writing, anything Peace Corps related, being unemployed, etc.
It is still a struggle to mesh my “two lives” together. It seriously stresses me out. My friends are great. Everyone is supportive of me in everything I do. Most of my friends have left the country at one point or another in their lives, so they know how it is to have to come back to change. I did end up “finding the old me.” At the regional tournament this past weekend, I was finally happy with my play.
It’s all mind games. I just think too much. I just need to relax.
About 2 weeks after I got back, the Sandwich Fair was in full effect; so I thought to myself, why not try to find some work there? Get a lil cash. I just chilled out for a moment, talked to my mom (who has 1,000 connections), and got a nice job for a couple days. I quit thinking so damn hard, and simplified my equations. Here are some “re-acclimation” to America pics:
What’s more American than drinking an Old Style beer at a baseball game?
No better way to Americanize oneself than working/going to a County Fair (especially when your county has the largest fair in the state).
But, of course, I couldn’t go the week without being reminded of my roots in Jamaica (even if it was only the stereotypical idea of Jamaica/Jamaicans).
And of course my lovely Ultimate team: Frenzy
So yeah, I’m getting back into the swing of America, heck I am even unemployed and broke – that’s the American stereotype of Americans, right? Guess I am fitting in, after all. I’d rather fit the rest of the world’s stereotype of Americans – Happy n Rich. The grass ain’t always greener, my friends. But as I did with Ultimate; practice, practice, practice, and I’ll get it back. It just takes time and perseverance. I apply to about one-two jobs a day; if I did more than that, I think I would go crazy. It also takes just about all day to look and apply to just one job, so yeah. I am doing my best to make SMART goals. As far as jobs go, I’m not only looking in the Chicago area; I am searching the whole US and even some countries outside the States.
Bottom line: I need to “get out” of my own head. The morning of Regionals, I told myself that I was gonna play like I knew how to play; have confidence that I KNOW HOW TO PLAY ULTIMATE and stop thinking about re-learning. I needed to thrive off my natural skill and that is exactly what I did. I am proud to say that I even surprised myself in some plays. For instance, I layed-out (dove for) discs; the old me, NEVER layed-out, ha! I took some old, added some new, and created success.
I’m definitely not gonna get there without any bruises, though (figuratively and legitimately).
Here’s to figuring “it” out. Whether “it” is if I still want to travel, what type of job I want/get, how much Ultimate plays in my life, etc. I got this, though. I have support from my friends, family, and most importantly, God. Patience.
Along with all this; I’m also trying to change up my style. I’m kinda tired of wearing only t-shirts all the time! haha.. So I’m looking new wardrobe options AAAAAANNND… new hair style!
Well sugar! I really wanted to get one last blog written while IN JAMAICA, but life just got SUPER BUSY! Honestly, up until THIS VERY MOMENT, I have had next to no decent time to sit and write a blog. I don’t know how long this will go, but I promise you, it will be worth the read.
Topics to be DISCussed
- Mom’s JA Visit
- Officially Closing Out My Service
- Readjusting (thus far) to the States
Mom’s JA Visit
So few week prior to my leaving JA, my mom actually came by for a couple of days (a Friday-early Monday Flight) to see where I’ve been living for the last two years of my life and also to carry down a donation I got from my former high school. Although her visit was short, I made it a point to force her to try EVERY fruit/food that was currently in season, that I could get my hands on. She hated 99% of what she tried, haha! I guess trying new foods from another country is NOT everyone’s “cup of tea,” if you will. But to be fair, in general, she can usually be labeled as a “picky” eater (sorry mom). But she got to meet most everyone that I knew, so that was great!
She also brought with her my reversible, custom-made Seaview Primary pennies, along with a whole heap of other t-shirts donated to from [I think] the NHS at Sandwich High School.
So big up to SHS and my former Volleyball coach an health teacher Marissa Kafka for linking up Seaview Primary with some tight new pennies! And another Big up to my mom for carrying down the luggage! :-) (And no, she never had to ride on public transportation..ha)
Officially Closing Out/Moving Out of Jamaica
WHAT A PROCESS!! Soooo much! I moved out of Queensbury on a Wednesday and then flew outta Jamaica THAT Friday! So Tuesday I had a few PCVs over to help me pack n thing (since I had NOTHING packed).
Real Quick rewind – The Wednesday before I left QB, they had a nice lil going away somethin for me, like Seaview did. We shared a meal, and everyone said super nice things to me and about me. I guess I’m a good person, after all. I also used that opportunity to show them the video I made for the community (CLICK HERE for the YouTube link to the video). Oh and how can I forget…I FINALLY showed people my Jamaican Dance skills..haha.. at least dem get waan good laugh before me lef out! hahaha.. Thank you QB for the memories.
It was nice to see my fellow St. Besties one last time! I mean I’m not sure any of them walked away empty handed. Wednesday morning people were coming over as my friend n I were packing up some last minute things, and once again, anyone that stopped by, DEFINITELY walked away with a token a memory from me (Tamor, if you’re reading this and have yet to use my shoes to go running/walking, THEN GET UP AND DO IT NOW..or tomorrow!). So yeah, it was THAT morning that I took my last ice cold Jamaican shower for I would be in a hotel in Kingston finishing up interviews and paperwork until Friday morning. I’ll skip the boring details of how I was 4hours late to my first COS (close of service) interview.. teehee..really, there are no details. I was just late. Ha
Wednesday evening MJ and an a few other friends came over to the hotel and wished me a farewell. They are pretty stellar people and I am so glad they are in my life. Big up to MJ, Sanna, Latoya, Ayon, and Oraine! I love you all and miss you dearly!
Thursday evening I spent time with Ann an her family for one last Kalookie battle! I think I did worse that last game than my first time playing! lol To be fair, my brain, this time around, was all over the place. Soooo yeah. It was nice to see everyone one last time, eat a meal and play cards. Big up to Ann an her amazingly, welcoming, lovely, family: Cam, Sanjay, JJ, Malcom, Lauren, Alec, Mommy, Daddy, everyone! They really did make the biggest difference in my service. <3
Friday morning was my flight; 6:40am. Ugh.. MJ was super nice enough to take me to the airport, as I don’t think I would have wanted it any other way. She went from being my Jamaican bestie, to my best friend on Island, to definitely one of my closest and best friends in the world. When I left my best friends in the states 2 years ago, it was easy; I KNEW I was going to come back in 2 years time. I was guaranteed to see them again, but this was different. A week after I left Jamaica, MJ left, too. She got a scholarship to do her Master’s in Social Work over in Europe for 2 years! I know we’ll stay in touch, but it’s just hard to not know when you’ll see your best friend again. We are both off on new adventures/chapters of our lives. And, once again, I get to live vicariously through yet another friend on her adventures over seas. Big up to MJ for waking up before the sun to take me to the airport. Such a darling.
Readjusting [Thus Far] to the States
<UPDATE> Apologies: I forgot to mention that my 9-fingered father and his best friend Cope were nice enough to come pick me up at the airport in Chicago. They sacrificed going to a Cubs-Cards game just so I would have a drive home, so big up to Dad and Cope for getting me at the airport.
uuuuuuummmmmmmmm….. hahahaha.. It’s funny, you know. Most people, when they see me, say, “Welcome Home!” And really, like, I dunno. It’s not my “home,” just yet. At least, that’s not what it feels like. Jamaica has been my home, my ROCK, for the last 2 years. Do you have ANY IDEA HOW MUCH CHANGES IN TWO YEARS?! Seriously. Think about it. While I was in Jamaica doing my thing, it’s not like time “at home” decided to freeze. In the last two years, you’ve probably changed which bar you hang out at regularly, changed up some habits (whether eating, exercising, quit/start smoking/drinking, whatever), moved to a new house/apartment, had a baby (or two), got engaged, got married, met new people/friends, got an iPhone/Android/smartphone, new car, new technology, cut your hair short, grew it long, cut it again, colored your hair, went to a funeral, had a couple birthdays, started and/or ended relationships, broke a bone-had a cast-and now it’s healed…the list goes ON and ON. All those happenings, CHANGE you in some shape or form. You are NOT, whether you like to admit it or not, the same person you were two years ago, and neither am I, fullstop.
So coming back, not only is there reverse culture shock, but the readjusting to life is not easy. The “new” me an “old” me, don’t have the same thought process and perhaps have different interests. I have experienced life in a completely different way than most people. I can’t just ramble off all the ways I am different than pre-PCJamaica Cree, that’s just not practical; however, I can assure you, that I’m not the “same ol” Cree/Crystal that I was before. This re-adjusting to life is going to be challenging. I never thought it would be, but after 8 days of being back, I can tell that it will definitely be a struggle.
I will hopefully continue my blog (perhaps rename it at some point, what’s the name anyway? ha), and share my journey of readjusting to the USofA after living 2 years and 2 months in Jamaica as a US Peace Corps Volunteer.
Until then, I will be working full time (nope, not a paying job) at finding a career path. I do not want to be a teacher, but I love kids so in the mean time, I’m gonna sign up to be a substitute teacher, and see what happens. Other than that, all I know is that I love working with youth, I love sport, and I want to put them together and do something. Coaching makes no money, so I’ve been looking at After School Program-Managing stuff and some NPOs. If anyone has any ideas or knows of any place hiring, I am willing to move most anywhere, so let me know!
I also need to big up both Kim and Kurt Zoellick for being awesome friends in my time of transition and offering me [rent free] housing until I get on my feet. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Well, I have more to say, but this is quite long enough. Perhaps I’ll write again soon, with JA v USA weirdness facts/activities.
I really don’t understand how I get so “busy.” I’m super busy, but at the exact same time, I have nothing to do. Let’s face it, school is finished, and I leave in exactly one month from tomorrow. I had a dream last night that my Aunt Shannon, Uncle Larry, and Mom came to Jamaica to take me back home. They were just like “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything: flight, hotel costs, whatever you need.” ha.. ok, cool. :-) Only my flight is paid for and I don’t need a hotel, but thanks for the offer.
Seaview Primary School
As previously posted, Seaview had a lil “Farewell” Party for me last month. Those Grade 5 poems were adorable. Grade 1 read an acrostic poem that matched my first name, Grades 2 & 3 did a couple songs (and I was asked to dance by one of the boys, teehee), I think Grade 4 did poems, as did Grade 6. Each presentation was followed by an appreciation gift. :-) As much as those students gave me headaches, I truly am going to miss mi pickney dem. Honestly, I was holding back tears during the event. It was just so sweet and thoughtful. Along with the poems and gifts, many of the students gave me personal drawings an song lyrics (some their own, others were already written songs). This is the first job I’ve known a staff for so long, then had to leave them. Other jobs I’ve had were held for less than a year, not counting the work I did during college, of course. But even the multiple jobs I held in college, I had a summer break. Yes, I had summer break here, but it’s more like 6 weeks. The schools here work more in trimesters; where they have longer breaks throughout the year. So yeah, it’s just weird leaving the staff and kids. I’ll see them again, I’m sure of it. :-) And if anything, I have made a connection with the grade 1 teacher and a friend that teaches grade 1 at Praire View Elementary School in Sandwich, IL. I hope that link remains.
Well, my 2 years living in Queensbury has been quite the ride. Even today I am struggling. Last week I had an Ultimate Frisbee camp that 98% failed. I had been talkin bout the camp and put up fliers about 2 weeks in advanced; however, there didn’t seem to matter. The first day of camp only 4 kids showed up. Only when they showed up, they had no desire to do anything. Later on, one of my grade 5 boys strolled through. The camp ended with him and a grade 3 girl (student) doing the drills and learning, while the older ones that attended gave pure trouble and complained. *sigh* Oh well. For about 10 mins, another chick came by and learned how to throw, then left. So, I guess, looking at the positives, at least some people came on day 1. Day 2, we just chilled and chatted. The field never got cut, so I still had nowhere to play. Whatever. I guess I can’t expect people to want to learn a new game. A rumor I heard going around was that people didn’t come cuz they thought that Ultimate Frisbee “was the thing you do with your dog.” Ugh.. That’s a HUGE common misperception in the States, as well. Only, WHERE ON EARTH DID THESE PEOPLE GET THAT IDEA?! NO Jamaican that I know “plays” with their dog. If there is a dog in the yard, s/he stays on that chain 24hrs day, 7 days a week, 365. Seriously. The dog is not a pet, just merely a security alarm. So I just don’t understand where they got this idea that I was gonna teach them to play with their dog. *Shake my head* I’ve even tossed around with people over the past 2 years. Oh well.. Such is life. Guess I should have advetised better.
So I ended up running a baseball clinic in Treasure Beach for 3 days. I met these guys through a link I have in Treasure Beach, and well yeah. The clinic began on a Friday. The guys running it had car trouble and never made it for Friday’s session, so that left ME to teach the first day (we ended up going from about 10am-1pm). It was super AWESOME! I was so surprised on what I actually remembered from back in my ball days. These were boys who were used to throwng, catching, and hitting a cricket ball, so when it came time to put that glove on, you can rest assure that they were NOT cool with it. Friday there were about 12 boys (ages 12-18) and 2 girls (13yrs and 7years old). It was funny to see how uncomfortbale they found the gloves. But these kids were athletes, so by the end of the day, they were having fun and “caught onto” (pun intended) the whole glove idea.
Day 2 of the clinic had more coaches seenig as the dudes running it showed up. These guys are 2 part-time scouts from the Pitsburg Prirates (both J’cans). Super awesome, nice fellas. With them, they had a dude from AZ (never been in JA before) who coached a lot of little league baseball in the states. He carried with him a ton of Baseball equipment (adding to the heap of stuff already donated). This was great. There were also some other dudes there to help coach. Day 2 was definitely a success. Everyone learned a lot.
Day 3 was Sunday. In SE St. Elizabeth, not much happens on a Sunday. We had 4 kids show up (compared to the 24 the previous day). My assumption – church and lack of transportation. These kids really showed interest in learning the new sport. It was great for me to coach at this clinic. It just reassured me that there ARE kids out there that can learn and WANT to learn. The entire time I was there, I never had to raise my voice, NOT ONCE! Can you believe it!? When I asked them to do something, THEY LISTENED!! Like WOAH! I didn’t know that was possible to happen in Jamaica. ha.. Needless to say, I was happy for this experience as I am leaving the country soon. It took a lil bitterness out of mouth and sweetened it up a bit.
Well, that’s all I got for now. This morning I found out that my mom is coming to visit me at the end of this month. Better late than never?? :-P She is going to be carrying a suicase full of shirts and jerseys donated by Sandwich High School! :-) Pictures and thing to come when it gets here. I also hope she knows that she’s gonna be carrying back a full suicase of things of mine! haha Yeah, I came here with 2 bags, but let’s be honest.. I have acquired quite a bit of “stuff’ in the past 2 years.
WOOOO! I also just found out that I’m officially arriving back in the USA Aug 16 at 2:10pm (in Chicago)!!!! Wow.. it’s getting real.
(Soon get back to life updates, promise. Just been a lil busy and had this thought the other day)
Adult life is difficult. Yup. Fullstop. The more life you live, the more experience/experiences you add to your line. With this in mind, life also clutters our brains. There is so much “World” shoved into our tiny little brains (comparatively).
Think about it. As a child, your worries were minimal, partly because you never knew any better. How were we supposed to know that [insert child issue here] would have such consequence? We simply didn’t have enough life experience. Instead, we spent the greater majority of our childhood honestly believing that unicorns existed.
Children have the most awesome imaginations. They can believe ANYTHING. In fact, they CHOOSE to believe. That imaginary friend, s/he WAS REAL because we CHOSE to make him/her real. The child’s brain has yet to be filled with disbelief err what I am going to continue to refer to as “clutter.” I know sometimes, children throw hissy fits for not getting “their way” because they are to believe “their way” is the BEST way; but after a lil convincing (or topic changing), they will be a less upset.
I guess what I am trying to get at here is the fact that we all have a choice to believe. We argue with people mainly because we “can’t” see the other person’s point. No. That’s not true. We choose to not see/understand a different way. I always do my very best to see a situation from all aspects, then from those situations, make my choice on which I believe. Our mind’s as children are loose and ready to fill up. There is more space for understanding (even if it’s hard to believe cuz some children simply just DON’T get “it”). Our minds as adults are so full, it makes it difficult to even TRY to relate to someone else.
I don’t know. I just get super frustrated when dealing with people who don’t even seem to TRY to understand where I am coming from, because “they know.” I really do put forth my utmost effort to not judge right away (let’s face it, we’re human. We all judge). I do my best to keep my brain as open as that child who once believed a unicorn was a real animal. I’ll admit it, yes; sometimes my temper can get the best of me, and I need to pull the thorn out of my own eye, but at least I try.
Just a random post, I guess. I am not even sure this makes 100% sense to anyone but me. Feel free to open my mind with new ideas on this topic, though. I love learning from discussion. Until then, let’s all do our best to believe in something, again. Whether it’s magic, Santa (Christmas in July, anyone?), the Easter Bunny, or hey, how about believing in yourself that you, too, can be open-minded. I’m not saying you must accept everything, just do your best to SEE the “World.”
Okay, so today was my Thank You party at Seaview Primary School. I will do a more extensive post on this another time (got lots of gifts and it was super awesome and nice of everyone to do what they did). HOWEVER.. I NEED to share these poems that my Grade 5 students wrote me. Each grade prepared something for me, in my honor, and this is what Grade 5 Gave me. Now, keep in mind, that Grade 5 was easily my worst class from 1-6. Super irritating! Here goes:
Tribute to Miss Crystal Aeppli
Miss Crystal is the best
She never lets us rest
Out there in the boiling sun
We had quarrels and some good fun
Sorry we made you shout “SHUT UP!”
For we really enjoyed the getting out
Inside is where we will be
When there is no P.E.
You came here as a volunteer
And soon you will disappear
We will miss you
So please take care
A Tribute to Miss Crystal Aeppli (Poem #2)
Miss Crystal, you came here as a volunteer
But now you are leaving us with tears
Fair, we didn’t mean to be so bad
For we never intended to make you sad
Sorry for all the pain we cause
What you really deserve is one big applause
We wish you could stay and teach us more
Teach us things we have never learnt before
Please do not leave with any grief
But be happy and be very pleased
We now understand how much you care
And what it means to be a volunteer
Thank you for all you have done
And may God bless you under the sun
The irony! The class that gave the most trouble, ended up giving me the best poems! HAHA! I have some more to share (and pictures/videos, too). I just thought these were too great to NOT share right away! :-) I am truly blessed. And as I’ve said it before, I would not trade this experience or anything that happened for any other experience! So unique and soo freakin confusing!
NEW SLOGAN FOR PC/J: Peace Corps Jamaica: Sweet dream, or a beautiful nightmare! (Naturally inspired by Beyonce Knowels)
So it’s been a whole month since I’ve written last, and I have 2 months until I am back in the States! In that one month, SOOO MUCH HAPPENED!! I will try and use pictures to keep it short. :)
I went on a 2 week holiday (vacation) where I spent one week traveling the north coast of Jamaica and the next week in the Kingston area playing Ultimate Frisbee.
Linda was my first stop up in Trelawny. I stayed with her for two luscious nights. Her place is right on the beach! We went to her church on Sunday. The pastor is currently a guy from Ireland! It was so much fun to talk to him and his wife. They are just here for a little while, until the church gets a permanent pastor. Someday I WILL travel to Ireland!!
Next stop was up in St. Ann to look for (visit) my friend Kate just up the hill from Ocho Rios. Kate teaches at a school, so when I went to visit her, we figured it out where I can teach the PE class (since they don’t have a PE Teacher). The plan was to teach all her grades a lil bit out Ultimate (basically, to catch and throw). Oh my gosh! Her STUDENTS ARE ANGELS!! I wish I had them everyday! haha.. Right as school was ending, I saw some students with a basketball, so I went over to them and asked for the ball. Turns out, I still got my ball handling skillz from high school. I had all the student astonished. :-) “Miss do di ting ‘gain!” They asked me to come play, but when we played, it was like Rugby! haha.. so I told them to stop, line up on the middle line [of the court] and that I was gonna teach them some proper defense. I asked them ONE TIME to get on the line and BOOM! They got there, were quiet and ready to listen! Saaaayyy waaahhhh!?!? NEVER have I seen that in JA, or USA!! haha.. In any case, it was a great visit to see Kate, her house, and her school!
After St. Ann, I went to St. Mary to stay with Ann for a few days. I had the opportunity to teach her kids some Ultimate Frisbee, too (she also works at a school)! Check out that AMAZING VIEW from her school yard!
Ann started a bee keeping club for her students and every Wednesday they go and learn all about bee keeping (raising bees for honey).
Ann also has the funniest animals at her school… Goats in the pipe…ok?
As if having a great view from her school and home weren’t enough, she has access to an amazing trail to hike! Here we are on the Robin’s Bay hike! Pretty pretty water!
Apparently we heard somewhere that black sand is great for skin exfoliating. My skin was SMOOOOOTH!
After we finished at Black Sand Beach, we hiked over to this sweet Rasta Falls. Can you see the face?? I guess the last time people went up there, there was sooo much water, you couldn’t see the carving AT ALL! Fortunately we could see it this time, but unfortunately it was at the cost of a DROUGHT! There was NO WATER in the river, so no water to fall! :-/
Well that about does it for the north coast trip! The other half of my vacation was spent in Stony Hill where I was in close proximity of Ultimate Frisbee. The 2 crews play Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. My goal was to play ALL 4 TIMES. When I reached Saturday, Ultimate was cancelled due to rain. Monday I got to play, though! Wednesday was cancelled due to rain, AGAIN! But then I got to play on Thursday!! haha.. Soo 2/4 is not bad, but I really wish it coulda been 4/4! Cho man! Such is life!
On a happier note, the 2nd half of my vacation ended with me turning 25!! When I signed up for Peace Corps, I was 22. Got my invitation at 22, and left 27 days after my 23rd birthday. And now…I’m a quarter of a century old! And LEGH-MMEEEE TELLLLL YUH!! My body feels it! haha, okay, it’s not BAD, but..I’m no Freshman in college that can run on 2hrs of sleep and Ben and Jerry’s for lunch everyday. Anywho, since last year I spent my birthday at my house, this year I decided to go some place new. Ergo, MJ and I spent the weekend in Ochi at Coyaba Gardens and Dolphins Cove. Here is the picture story:
It all started with a wish…
A wish to see something magical.
A wish that cannot be captured on film alone.
A girl reaching a milestone in her life.
To drink a birthday drink (on the house) and eat a jerk chicken sandwich, with a knife.
Whose best friend becomes a Pirate’s new wife.
She goes back to her childhood.
MJ thought that she too, could.
They all remained friends.
But the Pelicans got jealous.
And the sharks got hungry.
Don’t worry, he walked away without a scratch.
And then the girl met her match!
But not before they got to know a Stingray who was unattached.
Back to the Dolphins because they are sweeter.
And they can jump through the air more than 457.2 centimeters!
Alas the weekend must come to an end. But what was the wish, did it transcend?
To swim with a dolphin, a dream from a far. It finally came true, for Cree met her sea star!