Archive for the ‘Stage 5: Taking Up the Challenges’ Category

There have been few years that I have gone to CCCD with Trinity students that we have not been without water for at least one day, and sometimes as long as three days, but I never thought that I would have to deal with that while living at 1 Court Manor.

Well last night as I was preparing to take a bath I turned on the tub water only to find nothing coming out. I tried the sink and had the same result. “Not again,” I thought. This is one of the hardest things about living in a developing nation: the uncertainty of living with potentially no water or electricity for extended periods of time. I put on my pajamas and dealt with the fact that there would be no bath and went downstairs to work on the computer. Oh well…

But I am happy to report that I again have running water this morning. Now let’s hope that it’s hot!


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Last night after I had just finished skyping my husband, Rick, and son, Aaron, and was working on some lessons for school when a streak of black and white ran across my family room floor and up the stairs. I knew immediately who my ‘visitor’ was since a black and white tabby had been stalking my condo since the day I had moved in. I’m sure he/she/it was looking for a new ‘sucker’ friend who would feed it or at least give it milk but that wasn’t going to be me.

I had told many friends that I intended to find a ‘furry dog’ to adopt as soon as I arrived in Jamaica but quickly realized that 1) there are next to no dogs of that type on the island; there are only street dogs and 2) I’m not home enough to give a dog adequate attention, so I put that plan aside…but I was NOT about to replace my desire for a dog with an unwanted cat!

I am not and have never been a cat lover. I’m allergic to cats and just don’t like them. Well, needless to say, this cat had me over a barrel. It was in my home and probably thought that it had outsmarted me. It had come in through the screen door that I had left ajar and then just stood there, staring at me from the top of the stairs.

I quickly opened the front door and in my sweetest “here, kitty; here kitty” voice cajoled it down the stairs and out the door, quickly locking the front door and the screen door behind it.

Sorry cat but you didn’t find a sucker in me last night!

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Jamaica is a huge vacation destination. People come from around the world to enjoy its’ beaches, resorts, reggae music and jerk chicken.

But living in Jamaica is much different than visiting Jamaica, bringing with it challenges and daily struggles. Jamaicans face violence, unrest, hurricanes, a challenging economy, difficult roads, an evolving system of education, high gas prices and a lack of natural resources that are needed in the world market. It’s hard to live in Jamaica.

As my stay lengthens in Jamaica I find myself faced with more and more of these challenges. Daily I’m asked again and again by taxi drivers if I need a ride and daily I surprise them by saying, “No, I live here.” Then I find that there are two prices for everything, the prices for Jamaicans and the price for tourists…so I have to convince people daily that I am NOT a tourist (even though I guess I look like one.) I live with the high food prices, potential violence and unrest and of course, the pot-holed roads.

But I believe that my biggest challenge is still facing me: helping my students plan sustainable service-learning projects in the schools and communities where their schools are. Will I be able to find the community support necessary to support the Sam Sharpe students so that their good work doesn’t end when I return to America?
Will I be able to help the students see that service-learning is not only a worthy pedagogy to get involved in but also a life-changing pedagogy? And will I be able to leave some kind of mark on Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College? God willing- I will!

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If you are following my blog you will remember that I ended my last entry related to patois with some written patois. Here is the translation (this is one way to keep you coming back to my blog ☺)

“I’m well and want to say hello to you. Yes, things are going good. I continue to pray for you. I will see you all soon.” Love, Patti

From Zephaniah 3: 9-10 we read: “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia shall they bring my suppliants, even the daughter of My dispersed as Mine offering. (dedicated to the memory of the Jamaican foreparents)

In the midst of their tribulation and affliction they gave birth to a beautiful language. They bequeathed it to their posterity who are now carrying it around the world.

Watch out Standard English! Afro-Jam a come!

I love patois and am finding, no, making time to listen to it. Young children learn new languages by just listening and soaking them in so that is what I am trying to do. I’m even tempted to put it on while I sleep since there is some research to suggest that you can learn languages subliminally. But I’m not sure I would hear it over the sounds of the reggae bands, honking horns and crowds of people at the foot of my building. Never the less, I am making progress. I may have to ask my driver, Mr. Johnson so start speaking to me in patois. He’d love it and I’d probably learn a lot from him.

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The elderly gentleman sitting in the window of the shoemaker’s shop in Annotto Bay leaned over and asked me, in a slightly British accent, “And how long have you been living here with us, my lady?”
“No fohteen year?” I answered.
“And since you have been here,” he responded in impeccable English, “you have learned to speak ungrammatical English!”
“But a no ungrammatical English.” I countered, “A African English!” This set off much loud discussion in the shoe shop, and not a little laughter… (taken from “Understanding Jamaican Patois” by L. Emilie Adams)

The dialect spoken in Jamaica is patois. Jamaican patois is a combination of English, African, foreign and words unique to Jamaica. However, most of the words used in Jamaican Patois are derived from English. Because Jamaican Patois is basically English, in some cases there is no Jamaican word for a certain word because the word is the same as it is in English. For example, people often ask: how do you count in Jamaican? The answer is, you count the same in Jamaican as you would in Standard English because the words are the same. However, there are many words and phrases that are uniquely Jamaican. Patois is a spoken language and there is no standardization in spelling. Because there is no standardization in spelling, the way I spell patois could be spelled another way, elsewhere, by another Jamaican.

I have a number of facebook friends that are Jamaican and I have noticed that many of their conversations are in patois, especially if they are sharing intimate information. Over the years I have begun to understand these conversations and have learned to read a written version of patois. Now that I hear patois spoken regularly, my ears are becoming accustomed to the sound of this beautiful language. To me it has a sing-song quality to it. I am also listening to Jamaican Patois on my computer in an attempt to learn to speak it. I have high hopes of learning patois but will be content to at least understand the language of Jamaica.

Mi well wah rispeck yuh. Tings ah gwaan good yah. Mi pray fi unno. Mi wi si yuh. Love, Patti

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On Monday morning my husband, Rick, and I headed for the American Embassy in Kingston. The halfway point of our journey was Ocho Rios so we stopped for lunch at Margaritaville in Ocho Rios and visited my favorite pottery store in Jamaica, Wassi Art. I found several beautiful vases, both for gifts and for my office at Sam Sharpe and left a happy shopper.

The drive from Ocho Rios to Kingston was challenging to say the least. I was so happy to be the passenger and map reader instead of the driver, which was my husband, Rick.

After avoiding hundreds of potholes, large trucks, men on bicycles and goats, we arrived safely in Kingston and made our way to the beautiful Hotel Four Seasons. We had a lovely night at the hotel, which helped prepare us for the many unexpected events that might confront us the next day.

We left the hotel bright and early for the embassy and we introduced to Angella Harvey, Cultural Affairs Specialist, Bernadette Hutchinson, Cultural Affairs Assistant and Joseph, our driver. It was such a blessing to have a driver who knew the city of Kingston and who we knew would get us safely to our destinations. We first made our way to the Inland Revenue Department for me to get a TRN number to enable me to take care of administrative matters pertinent to the Fulbright program. All went smoothly and quickly by Jamaican standards. We then made our way to the Immigration Division and this is where I had to take a deep breath and just wait my turn. It was finally my turn to see the immigration officer and was told that I needed to relinquish my passport, which I could pick up in a week in Montego Bay along with a “yellow book.” Since I have no idea what that is, I will find out next week when I visit the immigration office in Mo Bay. I feel a bit naked without my passport in a foreign country but am thankful to have my driver’s license as a form of identification.

After completing what we set out to accomplish Rick spotted a Subway, a welcome taste of home. We treated our hosts Bernadette and Joseph and it was obvious that Joseph had never been in a Subway before. He couldn’t believe that he could choose as many condiments as he wanted and I think he enjoyed his sandwich…I know I did!

Our experience at the American Embassy was incredibly positive and everyone went out of their way to be helpful. We were even invited to come back on February 25 for a gala event and to meet the US ambassador to Jamaica. Time will tell if we are able to attend that event.

Upon arriving back in Mo Bay Rick and I treated ourselves to jerk pork and jerk chicken and attended to several last minutes details before Rick would leave for Chicago in the morning. Then I will be alone and will have to learn how to both interact with and embrace the Jamaican culture and the professors and students at Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College.

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