I’ve been getting some seemingly uninformed questions, so I’m writing this post in an effort to clear things up.
My job title: Youth Literacy Advisor
What that means: I will focus on assisting emergent readers (essentially, remedial level) in small pull-out groups to boost their reading level.
Where I will do all of this: I DON’T KNOW. IN JAMAICA!! PLEASE STOP ASKING.
A little further explanation…
In Jamaica, the education system works differently in many ways than it does in the US. These differences are especially reflected in the “bush schools” or rural schools, where student populations are generally smaller and teacher staffing is minimal. In these schools, it’s common to find one teacher for multiple grades. It is also common for “classrooms” to be divided not by walls, but with chalkboard partitions. I’ll try to get some photos of what that looks like soon.
Jamaican students are ruled by tests. The GSAT determines which high schools Grade 6 students are able to continue to. The Grade 4 Literacy and Numeracy Exams dictate whether these students are even allowed to take the GSAT. You can imagine what kind of pressure this puts on the students.
Due to a number of factors, both internal and external, some schools have a significant number of students who are seriously struggling. This is where we as PCJ Education Volunteers come in. We work with the principals, the teachers, the parents, and the community to address whatever they believe to be the school’s greatest needs, in conjunction with working to turn around the way kids feel about reading, writing, and their education generally.
We are not teachers. Jamaica has a significant number of highly qualified teachers. To not note this would do them an injustice.
Each PC Country staff has its own system for placing its volunteers. In Jamaica, they have embraced a model that leaves us wringing with anticipation for almost the entire duration of our training. I do not find out where I will be placed until May 12th. Not a day sooner.
This allows them to get to know us better and to understand where we will fit best. Considering the fact that the next two years of my life are in their hands, I’m trying to do as instructed and “trust the process.”
Yes, it is incredibly difficult. I am a patient person, but it’s a pretty big source of anxiety some days. Forgive me if this is frank, but lately my biggest source of annoyance is the insistent request I so often get from those back home: “Do you know where you’ll be living for the next two years??”
NO. And I’m trying really hard to not think about it…so please stop asking! I’m not so horribly selfish that I would willingly withhold this information from those who want to know out of concern for my well being. So please, I beg you…trust the process. This is all part of my journey.
Thanks for reading! If you know me, I’m big on words. “Long story made short” is not something I’m good at. Congratulations to those of you who actually make it through my posts.