April 10, 2004
It's been a few weeks since my last journal, partly because I haven't been inspired to "tell a story" as I often do in other one. As I was thinking about what to write, I realized that there were a lot of small things that have happened in the last couple months which I haven't written about, thus the inspiration for "Updates".
At the end of Februrary and beginning of March, I was busy with the La Baye Folk group. We were invited to perform at the 2nd annual Grenada Toursim Expo. The Expo's intent was to display the best of all the parishes including artwork, food, crafts and talents. We were excited to represent St. Andrew's and practiced 3 times a week leading up to the performance. We had shows both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and were quite proud that we were able to display the hard work we had put into it. A week later, we were also asked to sing at the Swearing In ceremony for the new group of Peace Corps volunteers that had arrived. I was definitely more nervous singing (in full out folk gear) for my peers than I was for strangers, but it went well and I surprised quite a few people who didn't know I was a member of the group.
Towards the end of March, Peace Corps was invited to have a meeting with the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell. In the past, he has met with the volunteers, but it was the first meeting for the current volunteers. We went up to his private residence at Mt. Royal, just outside of St. George's. The security detail consisted of one member of the Royal Grenada Police Force who was guard, messenger and gate opener. (In talking to the officer on the way out, we found out that he does have his own personal security inside his residence, which is necessary for a country that had an uprising that killed their prime minister and members of the cabinet only 20 years ago!). The house was large by Grenadian standards but not overwhelming in the least. We were welcomed onto the veranda by his staff and once the whole group arrived, Dr. Mitchell came out and sat down with us. I was quite surprised that he was casually dressed in a soccer-type jersey, pants and sandals, but then what do you expect for someone working at home on a Friday afternoon? My kind of style. He talked with the group for a little over an hour and many of us were able to articulate what we were doing on the island and what needs we perceived. I was able to talk to him about my experiences in special education so far and the needs I perceive in the primary schools for teacher training and special education services. As a group, we also talked about computer technology needs, HIV/AIDS services, after school programs for children and small business initiatives. Dr. Mitchell spoke with us for a while about his priorities and his perceptions of the needs of the people. He also expressed his sincere gratitude for the services and time we're giving to Grenada. It was an honor that he was willing to take time out of his day to meet with us.
The other major excitement around here was that Meghan came to visit for a week. For those of you who may be unaware, Meghan is my very close friend and (former) co-teacher from CMS. She came down for a quick but wonderful spring break trip. I had been really looking forward to her visit and we had a wonderful time catching up on everything that we hadn't covered by phone or e-mail since August (there was plenty!) More than a few times we laughed so hard that my stomach and mouth were begging me to stop--what a wonderful feeling that is. Meghan got to see a lot of Grenada and appreciate it's oddities (donkeys in the road, roosters at 6am...or 2am, crazy, crazy bus rides). One day, we went to St. George's to have lunch with Stephanie, another teacher from CMS who was on a cruise and had stopped for the day in Grenada. Overall, it was a great week and was hard (on both of us, she reports) to have her go back.
Speaking of traveling--I am planning on going to Trinidad for a small vacation this coming Wednesday until Monday. Amy, another volunteer and I are flying out and will be staying with one of her friend's families while we're there. I'm sure I'll write more about it when I return. Also, on the 7th of May, I'll be flying up to Michigan for my brother's wedding on the 15th. I am thrilled for him and can't wait to see my family (read--especially Sydney and Emily!) and be on American soil for a while!
Other than that, things are moving along well here. I am in the middle of our 2 week Easter break and this week I've been busy preparing for an Autism workshop that I'll be giving in St. Lucia at the end of May. The next couple couple of days we will be celebrating Easter, Grenadian-style. As far as I can tell, I'll be attending Easter midnight mass (that reminds me, I need a nap!) tonight and eating dinner with the Peters tomorrow. On Easter Monday (national holiday), I'll be descending on Bathway beach with the Peters extended family and about half of the population of Grenada. Should be quite a party! I'm still teaching swimming lessons on Saturday mornings which is going great. This week and last, we've really been noticing some improvement in the children which is exciting for both teachers and students. We also made a major breakthrough with a couple kids when they figured out that you actually have to breathe OUT when you're head is underwater and not hold it and then quickly exhale when you come back up for air. Honestly, I think I saw light bulbs go on today!