For the past two weeks I have been a guest of Ms. Paulette McKenzie and her mother, Dorothy. My adopted parents have been feeding me, doing my laundry, and have kept me on schedule. I believe it has been quite a challenge and this post is a tribute to them and a way to express my heartfelt appreciation. I know that I am not alone in my feelings. All the Amizade volunteers here in Petersfield, Jamaica are taken in by host families and are given incredible care. It is a credit to the program here that all the Americans are made to feel so welcome.
I am certain that it has not been entirely easy for these ladies to have me. I am referred to by many as a free spirit. I tend to roam the streets and go off on my own in search of adventure and have been somewhat hard to supervise. I think that the two women simply decided that I could find my way home and finally gave up worrying. I feel today like a part of their family and will miss them, including their nephew Roman and son Robert Jr.
One of the true benefits of the Amizade adventures is that the experience thrusts the volunteer directly into the culture. Some of the finest moments have occurred while sitting at the diningroom table and exchanging stories, or going to the market with a family member and shopping for groceries, or attending community functions and realizing that you are witnessing events and interaction that no regular tourist ever sees.
This is my last afternoon here in Jamaica before leaving for the Navajo Nation in Arizona. I feel so fortunate for having chosen to visit this site and know that the other volunteers have felt the same way.