12 Days of Gratitude: Days 5 & 6

“Gratitude opens the door to…the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.” – Deepak Chopra 

I was fully occupied yesterday, cooking and making preparations for the Christmas feast Logan and I are about to partake in. And so today, on this bright and sunny Christmas, I’m sharing two days worth of gratitude.

May

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“Hey, you forgot to pack me!” 

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These girls, man. Cheychey, Ari, Ashriell. From creating and eating strange s’mores experiments, to making up dance routines, to being crazy and being moody – I’m grateful for each bit of time we got to spend together. I got to talk with each of them yesterday and it entirely brightened my day. Looking back now, it doesn’t feel like they were my assigned host family. We just fit too well together (we even look alike).

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Josh, one of my Trelawny PCV friends, got married to his wonderful wife Latoya in May! I am grateful to have taken part in their special day.

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Teachers’ Day! These photos are from my last Teachers’ Day in Jamaica. I’m so grateful to have been part of a wonderful, supportive team of teachers. I learned much from them, including quite a few Jamaican jokes. They’re family.

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My students. I have so much gratitude for them. There’s a reason they’ve been present in each of my posts so far! These photos are from our goodbyes. Saying goodbye was more difficult than I could have imagined – everyone kept asking me when I was coming back and it felt tough that I didn’t have an answer. They put together a wonderful “surprise” going away party for me that included serenades, dancing, library skits and lots of hugs. These kids changed me forever, and for that, I am grateful.

June

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HARV NATION!

In June, I got to spend a full month at home. When you extend your service for a year, you’re given a one-month paid vacation at your home of record. Mine was overflowing with fun, smiles, and tasty food. For starters, I got to meet this handsome little dude for the first time!! Auntie Dom loves you, Harv. I’m so grateful that you exist and bring so much happiness to my best friend Jessica. Oh, and Jess. I’m so grateful that you are in my life. You are love.

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Copa America game – JA in the USA!
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Yosemite with my sweet friends

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Logie in the big city.

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Baby brother graduated!

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My grandparents and silly mom.
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“Worms on strike”

I had so much good family and friend time. I got to go to Yosemite twice, Logan came to visit in California for a week of adventure, my littlest brother graduated from high school. After being out of the country for so long, I was really nervous about how I would react and feel about being back in the US. But these are my people. My people are so good you guys. So good!

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Goodbyes are really hard…
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Goodbyes are tough.

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FAMILY! I had to say “see you soon” to my Jamaican family at the end of the month. On returning to Jamaica, I moved to Kingston. I’m so grateful for all of the time I got with them. I’ve got enough stories to last a lifetime. Here I am with my host sisters (okay though, tell me we aren’t blood-related), my host mom Claudia, an angel among us, and Ashriell holding up the gift my school presented to me at graduation. The photo was taken of (almost) all of the students I worked with in small group literacy pull-outs over my two years at the school. That photo hangs in my office now as a daily reminder of how much I’ve grown since I arrived in Jamaica in March of 2014.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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