Since we’ve started Pre-Service Training, PST, we have been talked to about community integration. Basically, everything that we hope to achieve in our service depends on how connected we are in the community. We’ve been told that it’s not an easy road to travel, that it takes time, patience, and perseverance, and that it will get messy and be stressful. Yes, PC trainers I listened to you, but, to be honest, those words didn’t mean very much to me until this weekend when I finally arrived in Grenada and started the homestay component of PST.
I think I got the best homestay family, yes fellow Grenadian PCT’s, be jealous! I’m currently living with my host mom Marlene, my host dad Allison, and their two boys, Garth and Zayne, who are 10 and 2 years old respectively. It is pretty awesome. Marlene is a beautiful mother and teacher. She has done a lot for the community and continues to dream big. I can’t wait to help her on the many projects she has planned to help the children here reach their potential. Allison works for the water services in Grenada and has convinced me that the water here is safe to drink. Garth and Zayne keep me moving and always manage to bring a smile to my face. Garth is, for sure, going to be the next prime minister. I just know it. He is a genius! (sounds like someone else I know: Anish? Prerak? Mihir? He would fit right into our nerd band)
Everything is perfect! But, all of these wonderful new relationships, new food, and new environment have one thing in common, their NEWness. I didn’t realize how stressful it would be to seamlessly transition from the known to the unknown, especially when I have no obvious stress triggers. Yet, on Monday I had a total breakdown and by total breakdown I mean bawling for the whole hour-long bus ride home (the Grenadians probably thought I was some crazy tourist). Mom & Dad, don’t worry, there is no need to get on the next flight to Grenada. In retrospect, I’m glad it all came out then because now my system is clean and clear and I’m ready to take on all that the PC throws at me.
Since that unfortunate bus incidence, Grenada celebrated 38 years of independence on Tuesday, 7 February . Below is a picture of my host brother and host grandmother at the national stadium waiting for the military parade and prime minister. Independence here is HUGE and surprisingly accessible to the everyday population. I mean, could you imagine Barack Obama just addressing a stadium where anyone could casually walk in and out? Every single person gets dressed up in the Grenadian colors, red, gold, and green, and celebrates the cultural diversity and freedom of the country. The night before there is a gigantic gig in Grenville where you can enjoy the festivities to the fullest by dancing, singing, and eating the national dish, oil down (more on that later…when I’ve actually managed to get my hands on a vegetarian version). Everyone is involved in Grenada’s celebration. It’s actually pretty contagious.
Today, I got a chance to talk with my supervisor. He has some great ideas about classes for the kids and is super excited to dance! There is still so much standing between me and all of the projects I want to implement together with the community, but I’ll just keep breathing & take it one day at a time.
On a side note, Stephanie, one of the older volunteers, has sent me some contact information for a dance group in St. George’s so hopefully by this time next week I’ll have started moving & grooving Grenadian style.
Sorry for the long post & odd grammar. Here are some pictures to make up for it:
EC-84 right when we got off the plane from St. Lucia. Photo Credit: Amanda Dombach
Our view. The house is on a ridge that juts out into the ocean. Pretty awesome.
Grandma & Garth at the stadium
National stadium all decked out
Our lovely independence day group! There is Marlene in the center with baby Zayne.
Also,(Mom & Dad you’ll be especially proud of this one) I was interviewed for the Grenadian news today. Now you can say that you know a real life celebrity J