I never thought I would be so busy so soon into my PC service!! At the Red Cross I have been working on organizing files and resources as well as trying to get a feel for what programs exist and how they work. It's a little overwhelming because I feel that there are high expectations for me and I'm still just getting used to things. It kinda makes my heart jump into my throat when I'm looked at as an expert. The reality is I am just a college grad and this is my first real career! I met with some of the youth leaders on Saturday and got some feedback from them as to what they've been doing and what they'd like to do. We are hoping to plan a summer camp and it is going to take a lot of work to pull it together. I'm just learning as I go.
Working with the school is slow as I'm only there once a week. On top of that, the teachers have been on strike over an issue with their pay. So school has been out on certain days. I've been assisting with the grade 5 class. Currently I'm just acting as a teacher's aid, but I have a few ideas of other things I can do there. It is just going to take some time to get them moving.
Apart from work stuff I've been trying to get out and experience different aspects of Lucian life. I went to steel pan practice again on Saturday and had a great time. I found out the names of the songs we are playing so I can try to listen to them to get a better idea of how they are supposed to sound. And I figured out how to do cool stuff with the songs in GarageBand (program on my Mac)… which kept me up till like 3 a.m. (I know… I'm a dork).
St. Lucia is celebrating Jazz Festival this week. Basically there are all sorts of music events going on around the country. Some are free and some are not, but the idea is you just go and enjoy some good tunes, maybe some good food, and most definitely a good time with friends. I went to one such free event on Sunday with a few other Volunteers. It was on a beach up in the north of the island. The interesting thing about Jazz Festival is that it's not really about Jazz music… just music. So the artist of the evening was the Calypso king from last year. The beach was really crowded and people were really enjoying feeling the music. The other Volunteers and a Lucian attempted to teach me to "dance" without much success…
Monday night I went to a community youth group meeting near where I live. The youth group doesn't necessarily have a regular meeting day, but they do organized activities and such. I figured it'd be a good way to meet and get to know people my age. The topic of the evening (and for the next few weeks) is men's health. So the discussion was all about how men are more at risk for (or more likely to experience) things like STIs, dying in a homicide, getting injured in a automobile accident, having unprotected sex, not going to get regular health checkups, etc, etc. All of them were things that are related to a behavior…, which in principle can be changed. So the leader asked the young guys in the group if it was possible to reverse, or slow down, these negative things in the lives of men in St. Lucia. The idea is that it can be changed if men choose healthier behaviors. It was interesting to hear some of the guys disagree though. Some of them believed it was literally impossible to bring about this kind of change, because men will not alter their behavior (especially in the areas related to sex). I'm told that this is a very common attitude here. Some seem more wiling to deal with the consequences then go without their fun. Anyway, It was nice to meet some other youth my age… I hope that I can continue participating in the group.
Another interesting story:
I woke up Tuesday morning to the sound of torrential rains outside. I mean it was just deafening how loud it was. And the rain was accompanied by wind. It was such a nice sound; all I wanted to do was just lie there and rest and read all day. Tuesday is usually the day I go to school, but it just so happened that the teachers were having another meeting about the strike going on. So school wasn't really happening. Even so, I had to go out to get a few things done in town. As I walked out to catch a bus, with raincoat on and umbrella open, I splashed through little rivers running across the gravel drive by my apartment. By the road, the watershed gutters were gushing with water… it was just flying down the chutes. I welcomed the shelter of the bus. The drive down to the city was interesting. There were areas where the road was even beginning to flood where watershed drains were overflowing. Near town a river runs along the side of the road and the muddy water was nearing the brim. Debris and garbage were floating down and getting caught in trees and roots. The streets in town were full of puddles. I was glad to be wearing flip-flops cause my shoes would have been soaked otherwise.
I learned later that some towns experienced more serious flooding. A few people had to go stay with relatives and friends. And this was just one day of hard rain. I'm told that the month of October is like that every day! So you can imagine, if flooding was experienced from just one day of hard rain, how easily disaster can affect this country. Many of the big towns are actually below sea level.
I'm also learning that during hard rains like that, and even at other times, the water lines can be shut off. So sometimes I come home and go to wash dishes or shower and all of a sudden nothing comes out of the faucets! It usually comes back on after a while, but sometimes it might take overnight. It's strange when I have Internet but no water… just kinda makes me shake my head. Anyway, I bought two large buckets with lids today so I can keep water on hand for these times. Now I can do a little washing and a little bathing even if the water is off.
In the afternoon the rain let up and I was able to walk down the hill with my landlord. I met her mother and uncle and niece and saw the house where she grew up. Her mother and brothers and sister and uncle all live on the same road. They all do a little gardening so I got to see some of their gardens. My landlords mother kept pointing at things and saying, "this is guava, do you know guava… well when they get ripe we'll show you what guava's like… but you have 2 years, plenty of time, plenty of time to experience all these things." She was cute and sweet. I hope I get to see more of her.