“The days are long and the months are short.” That’s a common phrase we hear in the Peace Corps community. And it’s true. Here I am, already halfway through my third year of service, with another year of memories. Some are good, some not so much, all are part of my story forever.
As 2016 draws to a close, I’m choosing to focus on outward expressions of gratitude. Over the last twelve days of December, follow along with me here as I share moments, people, and memories that fill me up with gratitude.
January was a month of visitors. My dad and his partner Tsega came to visit for a week. My dad has a love for reggae music that runs deep, and for him, a week in Jamaica wasn’t nearly enough. We saw backyard performances and made a pilgrimage to Bob Marley’s grave site, ate jerk, spent time at the beach, they met my host mom and came to visit my school. My dad expressed over and over how proud he is of me – of the way I’ve made a life here in Jamaica and with what apparent ease I thrive here. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to show him my home, work, and family in Jamaica.
It was a month of beginning to say goodbyes. My group had our Close of Service Conference and reflected on our service. I probably cried at some point on each of the three days we spent together at the conference. I still feel incredibly supported by many of these people and I am incredibly grateful for the deep bonds we forged over 27 months of service together.
It was also a month of work. Here’s a photo of students at my school who were being honored as students of the month. Ms. Taylor, a fellow teacher, and I worked hard to implement a merit badge system at school as a way to motivate our students to plan for and achieve their academic and behavioral goals. Neither Ms. Taylor nor I are at the school this year, and while I do not know if the school still does this, but for the time that we were there, they were so excited. We did see that motivation. I saw behavior change in students because they so craved recognition for their effort. For their childlike eagerness, earnestness and endless smiles, I am grateful.
In case you didn’t know, this is my 4-year-old host sister Ashriell. When I moved in, she was 2 and only knew a few words. Here she is at almost-4, getting a piggy back ride from me. For her sweetness and love, I am always grateful.
Do you regularly revel in gratitude for the goodness in your life? The end of the year is a great time to start. Join me back here tomorrow for more outpouring of gratitude and my favorite Jamaican memories.