...I got a feeling that- 2011 is going to be a good year. Well people we have certainly come to this point again, the end of the year is certainly upon us although we may be experiencing tiny pangs of nostalgia, we also may be experiencing feelings of great expectancy. Let us reverently say farewell to the year that was-all the positives, negatives and the in between. Last year you may have worked hard- hats off to the hard working Projects Abroad staff in the numerous destinations and to the countless number of volunteers, past, present and potential- this year let us all aim to work even harder and to have some fun using the same measurement.
The Jamaican scene now is currently abuzz with excitement. While some Jamaicans are gearing up for the long list of parties that will be happening tonight, New Year’s Eve, the others will be in between church and their homes. It’s truly a moment of jubilee as many have now recognised that they have made it through a challenging year and is hoping that 2011 will bring fewer challenges and more opportunities.
The staff at Projects Abroad is busy as usual trying to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the arrival of thirty-three new volunteers in January. We are now ready to move to the next phase and as we say in Jamaica ‘wi a guh hard or guh home’ As such Projects Abroad Jamaica would like to extend a similar school of thought to our colleagues bring your A-game we have to make Projects Abroad International #One.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL AND REMEMBER THE POWER IS YOURS!!!
Projects Abroad staff in planning session.
The Projects Abroad Jamaica team put a different spin to the concept of New Year’s resolutions- we decided to have a planning meeting just to customize our unique professional resolutions. On December 29, 2010 all staff met to attend an apropos meeting, organized by our shrewd Country Director, Dr. Bridgette “Boss Lady” Barrett-Williams, simply and fondly called Bridgette by staff and volunteers alike.
The extremely organized and strategic “Boss Lady” figured that we should ring in our New Year with a display of fireworks- well not literally- our work, energy and organizational skills should reflect the characteristics of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. We had an informative session on how strategic planning will greatly aid the success of Projects Abroad Jamaica.
Our session began with an ice-breaker activity; all six staff members were to think carefully about an animal which best describes them and say why. Well the Projects Abroad Jamaica menagerie came up with a Cat, a Chameleon, two Lionesses, a Parrot and a Puppy. So now we have the observant, the dynamic, the leaders, the talkative and the affable. With these diverse characteristics we are surely set to accomplish even greater things for the upcoming 2011.
We later moved on to a brainstorming session and were all subsequently asked to write and discuss our vision for Projects Abroad destination Jamaica and the bold steps we should take to achieve them. We realize that although our characteristics are stark we have found a common ground in a shared belief. Our collective consciousness tells us that we all want our organization to succeed and that we want to have one hundred percent (100%) efficient staff members who will in turn influence volunteers leaving our destination to feel one hundred percent satisfied. At the end of the session we felt motivated and energized; we also left with our brand new professional diaries. 2011 here we come!!
Christina Poulsen and a student from her placement
Two months ago, I was sitting in the airplane, on my way to Jamaica not really having any idea of what to expect. I was very nervous and excited at once, as it would be my first time away from home for such a long period.
Now I am in Jamaica and what I am planning to do won’t be easy. Let me tell you about my stay thus far; my volunteering projects, my experiences-everything. But I know it’s possible to describe in wonder, and if I should tell everything I want to, this would be a never ending story, as such I will relate only the highlights of my stay.
When I arrived in Jamaica, I was introduced to my host family as one of the first things. They welcomed me with open arms- at first it felt awkward to be in a stranger’s house- but that feeling quickly evaporated. My initial feeling was an acute sense of being overwhelmed, to be in another country so far from my own home. The first night I could have cried. I thought to myself that I would not last for three months. But all these thoughts came before I met the Jamaican people, the loving children at the Orphanage and the school, the other volunteers and last but not least the Projects Abroad Staff.
I could not have asked for a better welcome from the office. They made me feel like I was definitely not alone and the other volunteers as well. I soon forgot all the bad thoughts I previously had, because now looked forward to the smiling faces that would be in Mandeville saying, “Morning darling, wah gwaan”
Quickly I came into a daily routine; I would work until noon, stop by the office to say “hi” and just socialise with the other volunteers. I was told that Mandeville was not the town for quality entertainment but every day I found something interesting to do and it always surprised me that the day always seemed to end rather quickly.
I have experienced so much in a short time; my work at the Orphanage has made a very big impression on me. I worked there for five week and after a week, I felt as if I knew all of the children and that we have a special bond. It was very hard saying good bye to the children at the Orphanage when it was time for me to leave; as such I made a conscious effort to give them all the love I could in the few months I would be volunteering.
After my Care Project at the Children’s Home; I started a Teaching Project at the Primary and Junior High School, and I am currently there (at the time of writing this story/article) I can’t say which of the projects I liked the most, they are each special in their unique way. Teaching at the school is a challenge. I teach and assist in different classes, from grade four (4) to grade nine (9). Even though it can be difficult, I really love being there as the teachers are very kind to me and the students are so special, many of them are way behind and sometimes I have to repeat myself over and over, which can be frustrating at times. On the other hand being in the Classroom gives me so much joy, to their smiling faces and the questions they ask is something one would have to experience for themselves.
Being a volunteer is not something I considered for a long time. Actually it was very sudden impulse. I’ve always wanted to see other parts of the world, to go travelling after school as a sort of transition between graduating from school and deciding what the next big step would be. Travelling comes in many forms; I decided to travel as a volunteer to get first-hand knowledge of a country and its culture.
Now I have absolutely no doubts that being a volunteer in Jamaica was the right choice. I know some might reason that three months of volunteering is not much to make a huge difference, but knowing that I have been giving my love and support to a few kids who really need it, is enough of a difference for me.
Also, I have come so close to another culture, and no one could possibly have explained to me what living in this country would be like, at first the culture shock was a bit much, but honestly it’s a good one. I became an integral part of the community, if someone had told me that before, I probably would have laughed at them, now Jamaica feels like my home. Writing this article about my experience, really cannot describe how grateful and lucky I am to have had this experience; my wish is that everyone could come to Jamaica and have this experience.
This was just my little story to give you all an idea of what it was like to be here in Jamaica. In my own head I will always remember every second of my stay, because it has been some of the best months in my life.
We wish you a merry Christmas..."
well those were the exact sentiments expressed and over- expressed at the Projects Abroad Christmas Appreciation Social on December 21, 2010 at the Projects Abroad Jamaica (outdoor roof facility). The theme for the event was a Funtastic Christmas... Jamrock style. The event was slated to begin at 5:00pm, but got underway at 6:00pm; by this time an audience of approximately forty (40) persons had gathered and were enjoying musical treats of Christmas Carols, a serving of various finger foods and a cup of Jamaican Sorrel drink (a traditional Jamaican drink prepared mostly at Christmas time, made from the Jamaican sorrel plant; the plant is stripped from its brown seed and the leaves boiled and cooled leaving a red liquid mixture, which is later sweetened and rum may or may not be added).
The program listed fun activities, an overview of the operations of the company, a candle lighting stint and other ‘Jamrock’ happenings. Persons were definitely in a festive mood and happily participated in the activities or they enthusiastically cheered for the participants. Several rounds of musical chairs were played. This type of musical chairs featured two persons facing back-to-back linked at the arms running around the chairs, when it was time to sit, it had to be coordinated so that each pair was sitting; this was feasible if they sat in each other’s lap, it was truly hilarious. The second game was soda drinking relay; this entailed drinking three cups of soda with a very tiny straw. The cups were laid out in one row for each competitor; they were not allowed to touch the cups or straws and they were not allowed to stand. The final game was a gift wrapping game. Two males were called to wrap ‘gifts; real quick and real neat, then two females were called to do everything to distract them, they were not allowed to touch the males or the gifts.
Gift wrapping game
At the end of the programme the guests were served a plate of chicken, rolls and Christmas cake by the Projects Abroad Jamaica Team who worked assiduously on the Social to ensure that everyone felt appreciated. After guests had dined, they danced under the blue Jamaican sky. The guests remarked that they had a fabulous time and is already looking forward to next year’s edition.
The Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival is a musical treat for global music lovers for the past fourteen years and has featured high profile acts such as Erykah Badu, Billy Ocean, Babyface, Gladys Knight, Air Supply and Diana Ross, these names are only a few of the star studded line up that has graced the many stages over the many years of Jamaica Jazz and Blues. The festival also showcases many local talent such Cherine Anderson, Shaggy and Marion Hall more popularly known as Lady Saw.
This three-day musical event, held in the month of January, usually welcomes an average of 40,000 consisting of patrons from our home country Jamaica as well as from overseas each year. The festival generally showcases unforgettable music on two stages and offers delicious Jamaican and international cuisine in a cosy and comfortable food court; it also provides a medium for crafts artisans to showcase their offerings.
The original objective of the festival was to create an event that crossed over various musical genres but weighs heavily on the genres of Jazz and Blues. Over the years however, our audience has indicated that, like the melting pot of people that make up our true Jamaican Culture, they enjoy a variety of music, and so the festival now encompasses a wide mix of musical genres. We therefore feature Jazz, Blues, R&B, Gospel, Caribbean, World Music, Latin, and Country among others. And, of course, as the cornerstone of our Jamaican Culture Jamaican Reggae is a must.
Once headlined as the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, the 2010 edition opted for not having a title sponsor and simply went with the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, however Ocean Spray, producers of the famous cranberry juice came on board to make the event a reality for the fourteenth year. The main festival days for the 2010 festival were from January 28-30 at the Greenfield Stadium in Trelawny.
On January 28, 2011, the festival will once again showcase amazing talent. Already confirmed for the show are Laura Izibor, Maroon 5 and Jamaica’s own Diana King. Montego Bay is the set venue for the event. Tickets will go on sale as of the second week in December. The Jamaica Jazz and Blues promoters have maintained that it’s a product that people have grown to know and love.
So if you might just happen to be in the Island for the month of January, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is a highly recommended event.
He decided to come back to Jamaica because he felt he could be a Big Shot at home. He really wanted to impress everyone. So he returned and opened
his new law office in New Kingston.
The first day, he saw a man coming up the passageway. He decided to make a big impression on this potential client when he arrived. As the man came to the door Joe picked up the phone. He motioned the man in, all the while talking. "No. Absolutely not. You tell those clowns inthat I won't settle this case for less than one million. Yes, the Appeals Court has agreed to hear that case next week. I'll be handling the primary argument and the other members of my team will provide support. Okay, tell the DA that I'll meet with him next week to discuss the details."
The "conversation" went on for almost five minutes. All the while the man sat patiently as Joe rattled off instructions. Finally, Joe put down the phone and turned to the man, "I'm sorry for the delay but as you can see, I'm very busy. What can I do for you?" The man replied, "I'm from Cable & Wireless, the telephone company, I come to hook up your phone."
Patois in print that was the theme for the Patois and Culture Class on December 14, 2010, the volunteers were given several copies of a local newspaper/ tabloid to examine the various patois words, sentences or phrases that were later translated by the volunteers. Before they were given the individual sections to identify their individual sentences, we analysed a popular column titled “Mix up and Blenda” written by a highly controversial media personality. The column deals with gossip and controversial matters, its audience primarily attracts the ‘grass-roots’ people within the Jamaican society and is written predominantly in patois. Sections of the column were read and then the translations and various interpretations by the volunteers were given.
Subsequent to that activity the volunteers later identified and read the patois sentences in the individual sections that were given to them and attempted translations. A detailed analysis on the sentences were given and also tips on how to understand the language, such as listening out for key words and using context clues. Prior to this activity the volunteers were given hand-outs on the history and structure of the language.
For the culture section, the volunteers were told about “Grand Market” a huge fan fare which happens all over Jamaica on New Year’s Eve. All Jamaicans look forward to this time of the year to catch up on last minute shopping and also for partying. Most Jamaicans enjoy this spree; some will be out shopping from early as 6:00am in the morning. So all this activity normally takes place from that early and will end with party-goers going home even 8:00am Christmas morning to be with their families. While the volunteers were informed that basically everyone would turn out for “Grand Market” even the pick pockets and thieves, they were also encouraged to be extra careful because unscrupulous people will definitely be in high attendance at this festive occasion. Many of the volunteers expressed a desire to definitely experience “Grand Market” to see what it’s about.
A Jamaican and a Trinidadian, waiting at the pearly gates, strike up a conversation.
How did you die?' the Trinidadian man asked the Jamaican.
I froze to death mon, said the Jamaican.
That's awful! How does it feel to freeze to death? asked the Trinidadian.
Well brother, it was very uncomfortable at first but when the cold hit, my whole body started to shake and I got pain in my fingers and toes. Eventually, it came, a very calm way to die. I got numb and then I just drifted off, like dying in a sleep.
So how did you die Mon?' asked the Jamaican.
I had a heart attack, says the Trinidadian. You see, I did believe my wife was cheating on me, so one day I show up at home unexpectedly. I ran up to the bedroom and found her alone knitting. I ran down to the basement, but no one was hiding there.
I ran up to the second floor, but no one was hiding there either. I ran as fast as I could to the attic, and just as I got there, I had a massive heart attack and died.
The Jamaican man shakes his head. 'Kiss mi neck!' (Kiss my neck) he says.
'What do you mean?' asks the Trinidadian.
'If you had just checked the freezer, the two of us would still be alive!!!
Jamaican Pumpkin Rice
My name is Hollie Batters, I am 22 years old, I live in North England and over the past 3 months I have been working on the Disaster Management Project which is located in the Disaster Preparedness Department of The Manchester Parish Council in Mandeville, Jamaica.
I first began looking into volunteering abroad after I had completed my degree in Sociology at the University of Birmingham and I had a little money saved from working at Harrogate Borough Council following my studies. I always wanted to go travelling but I also felt like I didn’t want to just be a tourist, but that I wanted to really engage with a community and gain a true experience of a culture completely different to my own. Volunteering abroad seemed like a great way to achieve this balance.
I came across the Projects Abroad organization simply by searching for volunteer schemes on the Internet. The website looked very professional and after reading a number of extremely positive web blogs from past volunteers I decided that Projects Abroad was something I wanted to be a part of. The wide variety of interesting projects makes it difficult to choose but I decided to select a volunteer project that would be relevant to my previous work experience, which also meant I could use the further skills from working abroad towards a career in local government. It was a welcome bonus that the project I wanted to do was located in Jamaica, a vibrant country, packed full of history, culture and delicious cuisine!
My project offered a certain degree of flexibility which was great for me as I was able to outline the topics I am most interested in, and my supervisor La-Jean did her best to design a specific program that incorporated my skills and personal interests.
During my 3 months working at Manchester Parish Council, I worked on 3 ongoing projects. The first was to sensitize the people living in the Manchester Parish Council to the Dengue fever virus, and I delivered presentations to community groups and schools as well as creating a leaflet for both children and adults to outline the causes and prevention techniques of the virus. Second, I was involved in sensitizing the community to climate change by creating a brochure to outline the actions individuals can do around their home to help reduce energy consumption, such as recycling. Thirdly, I was involved in the relief measures of the Council before, during and after the event of tropical depression Nicole which devastated a number of homes and families in the Manchester Parish, especially those living near to the coast. In addition to this work I have also been invited to attend all Council meetings and other events such as those organized by the national body ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management). I am very thankful to have the opportunity to be a fully integrated member of the Manchester Parish Council during my time in Jamaica.
During my three months in Jamaica I stayed with the fantastic Stewart host family. They looked after me like their own daughter and cooked me wonderful meals and made me feel completely at home.
Also, I met some lifelong friends in Jamaica; not only the Jamaican people but through Projects Abroad I have been able to meet fellow volunteers from all over the world from places such as Australia, America, Holland, Germany and Denmark. Weekends were a great opportunity for all volunteers to meet up and travel to various fantastic places around the island such as Kingston, Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and plenty of others. We even tried our hand at surfing in Bull Bay!
Throughout my 3 months in Jamaica it was very reassuring to know that Projects Abroad was always around the corner (literally!) to provide support and assistance with any problems that came up. The team works very hard to make volunteers feel welcome and comfortable in an environment and culture that can be very different from what they are familiar with back home. As well as weekly project meetings, Projects Abroad organizes social events for the volunteers such as reggae dance classes, patois lessons and trips to places like the Bob Marley museum in Kingston and Rose Hall in Montego Bay.
Volunteering with Projects Abroad has been a unique experience that I would not get from the tourist travellers experience of moving from one place to the next. I met some great friends all over the globe and seen some beautiful places along the way. I have also grown as a person developing both my confidence and professional skills that I can use to further my career in the UK. In addition, I hope both Manchester Parish Council and Projects Abroad feel like I have helped by sharing knowledge and also cultural differences which makes volunteering abroad such a vital exercise.
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