One week

Wi a fiil jos fain. (We are feeling just fine.)
Today we spent the majority of our day in Sector Meetings for CEH—community environmental health.  The other sectors active in PC-Jamaica are Environment and Youth-As-Promise.  Out of 52 of us, 20 are in the Health (Elt) sector.  Our group will be split into Community Health, Water and Sanitation when we get our site assignments.  Naturally, I hope that Josh and I are both water, or that I’m water and he is sanitation.  On Thursday, we are taking a CEH field trip to both the Ministry of Health (di ministry de elt) and the National Solid Waste Facility.  Apparently there has been a fire recently at the latter, thus we may not be able to meet in the actual facility (eww?)…I’m looking forward to the trip very much.  Although today has been exhausting (and seemingly a bit hotter than usual), it’s inspiring to spend some time bonding with fellow health-ies and learning about the PC agenda here, where it comes to health.  Language-learning is coming, but sloooooowly.  Sammi, I have to think that you’d just be shaking your head in these classes.  We’ve officially had 2 sessions now and we’ve already been taught what I consider to be 5 lessons for any foreign language class in the states.  I’m not sure if they expect us to be taking in all that they give us, but at least it’s good preparation for the big world of Jamaica we’ll be thrust into, in less than 2 weeks.
Wanna play a game? You comment something you’d like me/us to translate into Patwa and we’ll do our best.  Be nice, now. ;)
Oh, let’s see…It’s also been lovely to meet more of the oldies (1-2 year PCVs).  They are mostly friendly and have very encouraging things to tell us about integrating with our future host communities.  We listened to a couple share their experiences as co-Health Advisors today, and it was really helpful to learn how they went about getting to know their community and figuring out their jobs.  The sector leaders expect a good amount from us, but we ARE supposed to be mature, contributing members of society, right?
Let me tell you what I know about Jamaicans so far, which isn’t much yet.  Jamaicans hold respect, reputation and outward appearance in very high regard.  For example, greetings and first impressions are very important in this culture.  We’ve been taught that your appearance “speaks” volumes about who you are and what type of event you are attending at any given time.  Respect is paid in various ways, from simple politeness to the customary “Vote of Thanks” part of a presentation.
Similar to the U.S. and other western societies, Jamaica has a challenge in marrying the attitudes, speech and dress of the older generations with their younger counterparts.  “Dancehall culture” is something they call the younger generation, kind of the MTV generation (10 years ago).  They have English and Patwa as official languages, and most people are fluent in both.  However, some refuse to learn Patwa
(Patois?) because they deem it uncivilized and others refuse to use English for an equal and opposite reason.   There’s your history and culture lesson for the night, friends.  Welkom (welcome).
Go look at our pictures on Flickr if you get a chance.

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17 Responses

  1. Are you homesick yet? The pictures are great! Thanks guys, for taking the time to take them and put them up for everyone to see. From what you say, seems like the Patwa “language” is our sloppy english with the Jamaican twang. Lazy communication. My two cents is that you learn enough of it to understand it, but don’t stray from the correct, formal language. As for the Jamaicans judging from first impressions, what’s so unusual about that? We all do this…sometimes unfortunately so. What’s the time difference between us? Did I tell you both that I love you? You’re in my prayers night and day. Keep in touch! I hate that everyone can see what I write. Mom

  2. which “mom” is this?? :)

    the Patwa does seem like messed up English at first, but when you get a little deeper into it, it starts to take on it’s own structure and uniqueness. kind of weird, but pretty interesting.

    same time zone!

    -josh

  3. WOW! Thanks for the update and especially the pics. The contrast between your digs in Ft. Lauderdale is not nearly as great as I would have imagined (minus the flat screen and A/C). I know a guy in SW FL that can help you with the latter. Cool caterpiller too. Your group looks happy…energetic…committed (di wola dem a deh fambly.) Have you found the local Yazoo or Bristol (an a jus lass nite mi di deh) yet ? When you do, momma will need a tee shirt. Keep the updates coming daughter. I love you so much, and remember “one one coco fill up a basket.” Dang, I love Google. dad

  4. I haven’t seen Mab since Sunday (her getting out of that collar has made her much harder to find!)… I know she’s alive and well- just camping out in that couch… she managed to get inside it even after I had sealed the hole in the back- and last night when I came home she had busted through the (previously) sealed hole… do you have any ideas besides “be patient”? I’m thinking Tuna?

    I’d really like to be nice to her and for us to be pals- and I’m assuming she’ll give me that chance some day- I just didn’t know if it was normal mab. behavior for her to be hiding so thoroughly for so long?

  5. I’m so excited for all the learning going on in your lives! Jess, i know you just like learning in general, especially when it’s something you care about. It sounds like a lot to take in, but it sounds great! I AM way jealous of the language lessons. I was never great at learning French when i had to. Dr. J was good and all, but i learned it just long enough to ace the test, and it was outta there (and by “there” i mean my brain).

    I have a question: Patwa seems to be similar to Creole, if only in that they’re pieces of lanuages put together, plus a little laziness, plus a little local culture. Are you finding the similarities to English words helpful or no? I mean, do you think it’d be easier to learn a brand new language or one like this, that you can kind of discern if you listen well?

    :) Love you

  6. Oh, and since i don’t have a flickr account, i’ll comment here. So remember the bathroom faucet at Cafe Coco?….. yeah, your shower head is far more comparible. Think about THAT as you’re rinsing off! :)

  7. Haha. You guys are so cool (and weird)!

    We were skeptical of the Patois at first (and apparently the politically correct term is Jamaican Creole), but it absolutely has structure all its own and lots of language rules too. :) It is a big challenge learning it–we’re on a tight curriculum, so we learn big lessons each day and don’t look back. It IS rhythmic and really beautiful (if not spoken by me…or Josh). ha. It’s rooted in Ashanti-style west African, with some English and others as well. I wonder how similar it is to Haitian Creole?

    Sorry about the hypocrisy here–writing a book on my blog. Thanks everyone.

  8. Ahh things sound soo exciting and new. Yeah Cambodians get all dressed up and take great pride in looking good. You’ll see people coming out of the slums but they don’t have a hair out of place…while I’m just trying to control my mane! Uhmm can you translate I have a this hot single friend named Corey? Just throwing that out there. I understand about language learning…my first tutor was like that. I felt like I was being drenched with a fire hose every lesson…I did learn one thing…if you feel like crying…do it. They might just have grace on you and realize you’re doing the best you can…its worked for me and my relationship with my tutor got better and more real.

  9. Whats your address there?

  10. Our address is the last little section on the right-hand column.

    Jesse Hunter, PCT
    Peace Corps
    8 Worthington Ave.
    Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.

  11. Hey guys. Hope all is well. Just saw a storm starting to brew in the Atlantic with computer models taking it over Jamaica. It’s still early, just thought I’d give you guys the heads up.

  12. tanks, brota.

    Last night, we felt a small “tremor.” Apparently, Jamaica has a ton of fault lines running through…but hasn’t had a serious earthquake since 1907 (wait, does that mean we’re due?). :)

  13. Hi guys! I love you!

  14. p.s.

    O I child, if thou accept I word,
    an if thou hide an seize I command alongside thee-I,

    Thou will mek thy ear fe listen up fe Wisdom,
    an thou will incline thy heart toward Overstandin.

    If thou call subtle knowledge,
    an if thou raise thy voice fe Overstandin,

    An if thou seek she like unto silver,
    an if thou want she like unto buried money;

    At that time thou will know fe fear JAH,
    an thou will find God knowledge.

    Fe JAH give Wisdom;
    an from HIM Mouth proceed knowledge an Overstandin;

    HIM collect welfare fe honest ones;
    An fe them who go without indecency HIM are a Shield;

    HIM keep judgemant path;
    An HIM firm up the hola ones road.

    :0) Good night

  15. Hey!! I am so glad to hear that you guys are doing well. I am going to make it a habit to check in at this blog. I checked one of your other ones and it hadn’t changed.

    Dudley is doing wonderfully!! He is so friendly and plays with Mila all the time. He also is great with the girls. He loves playing in the backyard as well.

    Miss you lots!!! You will do wonderful there and know that you will make lots of lasting friendships. You are a fantastic person and Nashville is not the same without you!! :)

  16. K-tina and Caden get in to town this afternoon and are here for a week. I’m so excited, and i know it’s gonna be a blast. I still wish you guys were here with us. :( Love you

  17. Wow! I am sending you light and love. Thank you for being who you are being. You both are amazing and I am privlledged to know you.
    In spirit- Anne

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