A new world…

First post! I’ve been in Jamaica for almost two weeks now…I think I am adapting well, all things considered. I feel that I am in somewhat of a unique position for this internship. Some of my friends are participating in programs similar to this and they are all staying with host families. I can see how that would be a great way to immerse one’s self in to the culture, but we interns have chosen a different route. We are renting our own place right in the middle of Kingston. I have found this to be a great way to experience Jamaican culture. I feel like we have jumped right in!

Earlier in the week (our second night in Jamaica) we went to a play called Back A Yaad that explored the differences between Jamaican cultures within an inner city community. We had the “lower class” uneducated street folk clashing with the educated Jamaican who spent years in the UK. While I have a hard time understanding Patois, I feel that I understood exactly what was going on and even some of the language. I laughed pretty hard at times. I thought the cast was pretty decent…even met them after the show!

Last Saturday we went to Hellshire beach (where I got a wicked sun burn – – my skin is peeling so badly right now!) which was a great day. Sipping vodka, rum, soaking in the sun and heat. Swimming in the ocean was a first for me. I had to keep spitting out the salt water. When we felt we had enough sun (would have been wise to decide that two hours prior) we went to a little hut on the beach where we had fish and the best lobster I have ever had. Period. Then we went home where I crashed for the next 13 hours.

Aside from nursing my sunburn, I have been working with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life. They offer many services and anyone can access these services – free of charge. They provide HIV and STI testing, support groups, etc. They really try to make it a safe place for vulnerable persons (this includes men who have sex with men [MSM], sex workers, drug users, etc.) to receive the care that they need without facing the discrimination and stigma from regular clinics.  The work they do is so critical in the fight against HIV in Jamaica.  Everyone I have met here has been so nice.

As the income generation project assistant, it is my duty to help develop a new business plan for Life’s Work. Life’s Work is a therapy program who’s aim is to provide funds for persons living with HIV (PLHIV) by making and selling candles and greeting cards. Up to this point the business has been struggling. Even though I have never run a business and never made a candle, I hope that I can at least help get this project off the ground.

Okay, enough about work. Tonight (Friday, February 24, 2012) is opening night of the Bacchanal Jamaica “feel good” festival. Every Friday night there will be music, dancing and drinks leading up to the big party in April (correct me if I am wrong). See the link: http://bacchanaljamaica.com/events/detail/34-mas-camp-opening-night.html.    Tomorrow I plan on going to a Jazz/Blues bar for supper, drinks and live entertainment. Can’t wait!

Well, I hope my first blog wasn’t boring to read…but that pretty much catches everyone up to date.  Watch for more!


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