Volunteer Stories: Challenging gender roles and chasing passions on the basketball court with Erin

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Peace Corps Volunteers do some amazing work, be it projects at site, friendships they’ve made, crafts they’ve perfected or integrating into their communities most impressively. Volunteer Stories is a series designed to share some of those cool bits, and an opportunity for me to brag about my friends who are often too humble to do so themselves. 

Meet Erin. She works as a Special Education Advisor at a University Special Education Centre in the capital of St. Ann parish. Erin loves to laugh, does a killer Shakira impression, fits in just about anywhere, and is by far the funniest person I know. She shares this lust for life and love of play with her students in the classroom, but the most unique part of Erin’s story takes place at her community’s basketball court.

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Basketball, while growing in popularity, is not widely played or followed in Jamaica like the beloved sport of football, but living in an urban community does have its advantages. One such advantage is exposure to more diverse activities. Not only does Erin’s community have a well-established sports complex complete with bathrooms (!!), but it includes an even more rare, often-used basketball court.

Erin comes from a basketball family and has been playing the game for as long as she can remember. Her dad and her two brothers played college-level basketball, and all three now coach basketball teams.

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About two months into her service, Erin made the brave decision to set foot on the court. Of course, she was the only whitey out there, but perhaps the most significant barrier was that she was the only female.

“It’s something that gets me involved in the community. It’s given me a really good support system, which I never expected to get in that context. It’s gotten me a lot of community respect and acknowledgement.”

“I know that if there was ever an incident where I did need help, I could rely on their backing.”

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“When I think about what I’ll remember about Jamaica aside from my primary assignments, it’s the games, the conversations and the funny texts that will really be those significant memories that I’ll look back at with fondness.” -Erin, Group 85


Oh, and here’s a peek into Erin’s classroom. She spearheads a weekly arts and crafts session with her students. She’s also got a super sweet reading corner that I wanted to hang out in all day. Mad props for use of mosquito net!

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2 thoughts on “Volunteer Stories: Challenging gender roles and chasing passions on the basketball court with Erin

  1. I have been coming up with a similar idea to “volunteer stories” here in Mongolia. One, bc my friends are doing amazing things here. And 2. Mongolia is so large, vast and different in every soum or Aimag that we all have very different experiences. Do you mind if I take this idea and run with it? Thanks for sharing!

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