Friday, February 02, 2007

Jennifer - February

Hello All,This is Jenny and I am studying in Kingston, Jamaica. Now you may start thinking what a wonderful warm, sunny beach filled place to study abroad in. However, Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica, and yes I've been to a few beaches, but Kingston is a city, maybe more run down then Chicago without all the skyscrapers, but it still has the same smells! By writing this I want to explain a little bit about studying in a developing country where I've suddenly become a minority person. I have found so many things to learn from a developing country because it is so different then the United States or similar developed countries. Two major things that I've learned and have been working on is to be flexible and to appreciate the small things. I am doing a service learning program, so three days a week right now I am working at an organization that does advocacy work for people with disabilities, very slowly in Jamaican time which is very frustrating. So everyday I see mostly blind people that are at this organization mainly for the company it provides them with. Many of them cannot get jobs aside from being little street vendors, because the general population doesn't believe a blind person can amount to anything. However, they still are very joyful, interesting people who always love seeing me and talking to me. Basically, they find such joy in just talking to an American. Finally, the hardest thing to get use to when I first arrived in Jamaica, next to the crazy driving and public transportation, were all the names or things people would call me. I've heard everything including: pretty, beautiful, whitie, that I'm so innocent because I should be ashamed for all the black people that my grandfather killed, I'm hissed at so they can get my attention, marriage proposals, and many offers to go home with various males on the street in passing, and many phone numbers and flowers. Again they are just fascinated with seeing a white person, and it has really made me learn how to interact with people that have many differences from me. Now I don't know if this has convinced you to consider studying abroad in a developing county, but generally, I am so glad that I'm here and I know that it is much better for me then any other developed country!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jenifer,

I have read your post and found it quite interesting. My father was Chinese, from China, and my mother is American. I personally have felt somewhere between both, and have also had the feeling of not fitting in with certain groups of peope (was the case but not anymore).

In Vienna, though it is a changing and newer world, there happens to be prejudice with the police (depending on who you talk to the degrees can be varying from slight to extreme).

The other surprise was from the crazy land lady (who owns the building for the institut), and what I have heard about here concerning anti-semitism.

I surprisingly, and after almost 6 months, have not felt out of place because of the high amount of asian people in Vienna. Not to mention that there is practically a chinese restauraunt on every other corner (ganz komische).

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel out of place, but was expecting that. I wasn't expecting the wide array of reactions to being white here, some love us and some hate us. But it is all very interesting and I know that it will make me more open to understanding where the Jamaicans are coming from. Also I love the lessons I'm learning from it all, some of which are still unclear, but I will defiantly have a new appreciation for people living as minorities.

12:07 AM  
Blogger naglee said...

hello jennifer.
i hope you have found your experiences enjoyable also. I'm going to be studying abroad in Thailand this fall, and a fear i have is being exausted from being a minority and being in a culture i'm not used to for such a long period of time. Did you ever feel tired of being surrounded by unfamiliarity?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,

I think it is so awesome that you are doing the service learning project! I am majoring in Special Education and think that would such a great opportunity, especially in a different country. It seems like this program was a good way to establish amongst people of the community.

You mentioned that you are a minority there, but do you feel your work has helped you adapt to their daily lifestyle or at least fit in more? Do you have any suggestions about how to feel like more of a local than a foreigner?

Thanks for your thoughts!

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jennifer-

I am about to embark on a similar trip this fall - a service-learning oriented trip to Thailand.

Along with Emily's question about being the constant minority... what has been the greatest challenge as far as the service is concerned?

Best of luck to you,

-Michael Manocchio

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer,

Kingston sounds like an interest place to visit for a stud abroad class. My friend Nollette goes to college there and she thinks that it is lovely. I hope that prejudice situations do not occur for you every day and that you will be alright there. I hope you have a safe and fun trip.


11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be so amazing living in Jamaca.

My question to you is this: how long did it take you to adapt to the Jamacan accent? Are there still words you find hard to understand? I'm just wondering because I'm a bit certifiably obsessed with languages and haven't had much of a chance to experience the English form of Creole that the Jamacans use.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Jenny Hameister said...

So I will try to respond to everyone at once, because Internet is not very availble right now down here. First are Naglee, and Michael doing a service learning experiace through IPSL. That is what I'm doing and I would love to give you some pointers of making the IPSL organization work well with you. Sometimes it is purly tiring to have to deal with everyone that points me out since I'm the minority, but I've come to laugh and learn from it. It has also made for some great lessons at the school that I'm teaching at so that was great. Also, I think living with a host mother and getting envolved at a church has really made the unfamiliar famailiar. Everything is so exciting and interesting I really don't feel that exausted and have forgotten that I'm in Jamaica and not back home at times.

Now my service learning: I would recomend doing a service learning study abroad experiance to anyone. For myself I'm now placed at a School of Hope a school of 350 students who have special needs. Special Education is my major too. So going to school three days a week has diffinatly been a great way to fall into the community here, because it is as if I'm working here, taking the bus to work everyday, and not just a tourist anymore. I have also made a lot of good connects with the teachers and students that have helped me feel at home. Easter is comming now I that is my favourite holiday. My host mother doesn't really celebrate but the Physical Education teacher from my school has simply invited me to his church, so I have really become part of the staff at this school. My major challenge at my service site is that their is so much I want to do, change, and implement. I really feel bad for some of my students who are to graduate in July and can't write their names. This is something that would not happen in my classrooms back home. But not all teachers realize what they could be doing differently much less do they care, and the lack of resouces is also holding the school back. Also honestly, some of my students found out somehow that I'm their age actully and have wanted to become my friend. Normally, in my classrooms back home I can be more personal with my students but here it got to a point where students wanted my phonenumber and kept saying how much they liked me and how beautiful, pretty,... I am. That was really difficult.

So Moving on,Elizabelt, does Nollette go to University of the West Indies or University of Technology? I go to University of Technology just taking four caribbean studies courses.

Finally, the language has been very difficult. I never expected it to be this hard and with some people I'm still not use to it. However, many people understand and loose the dialect while speaking to me.

Sorry this is so long, but I really enjoy talking to all of you. Hopefully you can tell just how excited and thankful that I'm on this experiance; thats also why it has gotten so long.
Thanks for all the comments,
~Jenny Hameister

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Megan M said...

Hey, Jenny!! This is Megan Mencinsky from Special Education. I am actually posting for the intercultural studies class because I am student teaching in Australia. I really liked your posts so far and I find your whole experience incredibly interesting. I am only going for 9 weeks, but I hope I can learn as much as you have. I am starting to get nervous about living in another culture- any advice for us newbies?

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Megan M said...

Megan M again- I am supposed to ask you about slecting classes abroad, but I am not taking classes, I am teaching them. So my question is going to be how did you decide what to pack? Two suitcases is awfully small.... Also, how did you adapt to the education system in another country? What would you advise about where to look for information about other countries' education systems? Well, hope you are having an amazing time- it is officially snowing here in April!

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Naglee. michael and I are going through IPSL, is the system fairly complicated or did you figure it out quickly, i'm a little nervous about getting stuck in a service learning placement that i'm not comfortable with. Like megan i am also curious to know what to pack, especially going to a country where everything is very cheap i'm wondering if it would be easier to only bring a small amount of stuff and then buy clothes etc overtime, since i prob will anyway.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Megan M said...

Hi, Jenny,
I was wondering if you could tell me how you dealt with culturwe shock once you arrived in Jamaica? I am only going for ten weeks, but I know you have traveled abroad to a variety of places and I was hoping you could give me some pointers how to deal with adjusting to a new country and how you made yourself feel comfortable there... Just curious!

3:55 PM  

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