Part 2: What I’ve Learned (So Far)

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This is my first post of 2016, and though it doesn’t cover the holiday season, election, island travel, or visit from my parents, it is a glimpse of some of the lessons I’ve learned during this first leg of service. This list will change and grow without a doubt, because every day is an opportunity to dig in and learn something about this community, country, service, and self, if you want it to be. Also with some human honesty, not every day we may be at our keenest or most aware to pick up on the signals of these lessons happening around us. Hopefully practicing that awareness, honesty, and participation can muster a better impact we have on our students, fellow educators, communities, and friends/family back at home.

It has been just over 7 months since stepping away from home and jumping into life as a PCV in the EC. I, luckily, have not been alone in this journey so far with fellow PCVs, and former ones, which have been invaluable friends and resources. This list was made with the help of some PCV’s, and highlights some of the lessons learned from these past 7 months:


  1. When you don’t need a van, you will see them all
  2. When you do need one most, they will seemingly not exist
  3.  Running is best at 5am or after 3pm, unless you want to melt in the sunmilk.gif
  4. Running in the AM requires a headlamp, and being okay with bats
  5.  Running in the PM will require you to talk more to neighbors, and they can hear your music if it’s loud enoughbrad jogging
  6. It’s rude not to say hello if you make eye contact in the village or walk past someone you know
  7.  In Kingstown it does not matter as much, as long as the street is crowded
  8.  Anything before 12pm”good morning”, 12pm-3pmish “good afternoon”, 3pm-5pm “good evening”, 5pm-on “goodnight” , always after “hello”. i.e. “Hello, good night”
  9.  It’s still too early for me to pretend to speak dialectkanye and john
  10.  Me nah know, covers most of life’s problems
  11.  You will get 10 different answers for a local question, with 0% definitiveness
  12.  This is getting advice on a daily basis:blog
  13.  This is me giving advice on a daily basis: blog
  14.  Country shops sell most of the things you need (flour, soup, cheese, eggs, etc.)
  15.  When you need something in a shop it will not exist (flour, soup, cheese, eggs, etc.)
  16. You can cook with just about any part of an animal (back, balls, sack, skin, soul)Mr. Bean
  17. Chicken and chips= chicken and fries
  18. Street food comes in $3, $5, $10 dollar forms
  19.  Do not eat chicken from a shop if it’s ready in 10 minutes,and you woke the shop owner up 15 minutes beforemistake
  20.  You’re probably gonna go #2 at some point, sans toilet
  21. You’re probably going to tell the other PCVs
  22. Sex, poop, and other PCVs are PCV’s top favorite subjectsjeff daniels
  23.  It’s harder to buy in bulk because of transport, but always keep toilet paper stocked
  24. Save your coins, but screw pennies
  25.  5 dollars can get you a big meal in the village, but there are not set times for food being sold
  26. You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weatherOutcast
  27.  Always keep some emergency money hidden in the house and on you, in case you get stuck somewhere
  28.  Try to make the same mistake 2x tops, repeat if necessaryhot dog
  29.  Just like if you visit a major U.S. City, not everyone has been to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building or had Pat and Geno’s cheesesteaks, not everyone has been to the Grenadines
  30.  More Grenadines are unpopulated than inhabited
  31.  $10 for 3 beers = Philadelphia’s city wide specialcreed
  32. The beer is more expensive in the Grenadines and comes in smaller bottles, because of shipping reasons
  33.  Hairoun is not only the national beer, but what the country was originally called
  34. You can never have enough cheesecheeseYou can plan a perfect lesson, expect at least one wrench to be tossed into your day   
  35. snape
  36.  The colors green, yellow, and red mean different things in the country to different folks, especially during election time
  37.  You will make friends with people and never know their namebest friend
  38.  Walking across the capital can take about 30 minutes, walking across village could take 2 hours dependent on who you bump into
  39. You can hop on a van just about anywhere, but there are a handful of accepted bus stops, and people won’t always appreciate it if you hop off the van out of nowhere
  40.  Sometimes if you want to catch a van, you need to walk away from the city, to catch a van driving into the city (it makes it a longer trip, but you are more likely to have a spot available)  500 miles
  41. You will have the greatest epiphanies of life in a van crammed with 26 people farley
  42.  You will have the greatest identity crises in life in a van crammed with 26 peoplemind blown
  43. You’ll recognize the sound difference between a van, truck, jeep, and car eventually without looking
  44. Van conductors will look out for you more often than not, and a Hairoun in town can always grease the wheel even more
  45.  You can never have enough cheesegoofy cheese
  46. If it rains hard enough, the wifi will be out. If the power goes out, it is usually planned by the hydroelectric company
  47.  Garbage pickup is Friday AM, too early and dogs will get into the trash, and too late you have to wait another week, and bugs will appear in droves
  48. You will consistently out do yourself for the worst smell you have ever smelledron.gif
  49. You may even contribute to that feat
  50.  Food spoils quicker in the tropics
  51.  Your house will never be 100% clean
  52.  Your house will never be 100% bug free
  53. Your house will never be 100% not a fishbowl for the block
  54.  You will never be 100% prepared for the day, week, month, year or hour ahead of you
  55.  Doing it live, is better than not doing it all bill
  56.  Anything is something, even if it does not match with the project framework
  57. PCLAAYST ( Peace Corps loves acronyms and you should  too)
  58. Your standard for where you are willing to sleep will lower when travelling, beds can be couch cushions, packs, and old laundry need be
  59. Proofreading is hard when encountering Dialect, even as a teacher
  60. You will accidentally teach the wrong thing, multiple times, even more if you’re truly trying not to fie fail
  61.  Schools use different terms here in classroom for everyday things
  62.  Sparer = pencil sharpener, and kids will have razor blades to cut it by hand, it is expected you do so before class
  63.  Full Stop = a period “.”
  64. Title = Last name
  65. Common = lower case
  66. Washroom = Bathroom
  67. “I have to defecate” or “pee pee please” is how kids ask to go to the bathroom, and you lend them the toilet paper to go and come back what
  68. There is a minimum of 3 stray dogs on the school compound at any given time, goats, foul, and cows are TBA
  69. Some folks treat their animals with the utmost respect, others not so much
  70. If you strike a live-stock animal with your vehicle it is yours to keep, since the cost of the damage will cost more than the animal itself
  71. Many people’s former profession when they were growing up was growing marijuana up in the countryside, or had to work full time to support their siblings or family. Many people did not finish school, and the younger generations of the past 10 years are the first to have education be compulsory for all
  72. Not everyone has hiked La Soufreire, and no one recommends hiking all the way around the inside of the crater like we did
  73. Most of the coolest waterfalls, rivers, and swimming holes will require travelling with a local; it is easy to get lost very quickly in the bush adventure.gif
  74. It’s a good idea to carry a bathing suit or spare towel around if you know you’ve got some down time around water
  75. Many tourists completely ignore the main island and head directly to the Grenadines
  76. Folks from the villages will work off the mainland for months at a time either on a cruise ship, island, or overseas, and they have seen more of the world than I probably ever will
  77. Cricket and Soccer (football) are the most popular sports, but folks sometimes will follow the NBA, and NFL more than I dosperts
  78. You will see many smart phones, but not many iPhones
  79. Some form of electronic you own will get destroyed by the current or the humiditymike fox cry
  80. Quality over quantity if you are going to buy something for the house, and keep your receipts many things have a 6 month or lifetime guarantee
  81. Many storefronts in Kingstown have no signage or are nondescript. The same holds true, even more, so in the village. Word of mouth is best when finding these shops/cafeterias; staff will remember you after the 1st or 2nd time if you continue to go there, and can be great friends to have
  82. You will meet folks who know about the Peace Corps, but have no idea what it doesri ri
  83. If there are enough white folks around, people will see you as a tourist, and it can be uncomfortablewhite
  84. Most tourists come from the EU,  since travelling from US requires multiple flights with an air lines and regions where delays and lost baggage are a norm; whether they are friendly or rude is a flip of the coin
  85. Forms of white privilege exist within service
  86. Being a Peace Corps as a male versus a female is completely night and day. They have an extremely tougher time than I ever will
  87. There is a significant gap in the issues faced between male and female PCV’s in terms of safety, expectations, and cultural norms
  88. Challenges that PCV’s face logistically, personally, infrastructure/resource wise, socially, and culturally are all part of the process that is Peace Corps Service
  89. If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth doing
  90. PCV’s by inherent nature are some of the most adaptable people out there, even if they don’t see it or believe it
  91. Locals from the community and country can be the best sources of inspiration, and daily lessons. Everyone has a story, struggle, and strength if you’re willing to listen.
  92. We serve 27 months; folks here are in it for the long haul, respecting and trying to perceive that reality can answer many questions and quell some internal debates
  93. If you’re open to being uncomfortable and roll with it, it leads to a better day. Things are as permanent as we will or want them to be; unless you lose and arm or something egregious.
  94. Caribbean culture is not made for the overly introverted; quietness can come off as cold, or disrespectful
  95. It won’t be a like Disney movie, glossy advertisement, or anything like you expected either from the location, project, or service itself. The more you are open to finding out what the grittiness of service and development feels like, the more you are able to connect with folks
  96. A goat screaming and a child screaming can be indecipherablegoat
  97. You and you alone ultimately set the standard for your kind of service. Whether you make it big or bold, small and simple, or idealistic vs. realistic, it’s falls into your hands. The same holds true for your life whether your serving or not, the standard is always your own.IMG_3933
  98. Two years is a long time and short time in the span of it all. The best way to fight apathy, stagnation, doubt, frustration and promote change/growth is not take time for granted. Be it time here, time at home before, and whatever time ahead we have.a-hole
  99. Try and have exact change when riding in a vehicle with 25 other people who have places, people, and lives, of their own to get to
  100. The sounds, sights, smells, and beat may be different, but folks love, breathe, laugh, cry, hope, sweat, bleed, and dream for themselves, their children, community all the same. They take pride no matter the creed, color, or culture, be it in at home, here, and abroad. Leaping, striding, limping, stumbling, soaring, bumping into, breaking, but most importantly just actively participating in crossing those boundaries, bumps, and bridges, be it the physical ones before our eyes, or mental systems, beliefs, differences, or ideals within us is what shows you the innate intricacy of how complex, but beautifully connected we are in this weird ride. You don’t need to sign up for service to see this, but it is through service that you set the standard not only for yourself, but something more connected to others, and thusly more humane in this human experience. life



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