Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Philippines" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Jamaica"

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{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
 
{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
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===Communications===
  
===Communications ===
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====Mail====
  
Letters, which usually take one to two weeks to arrive, should be sent to:
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Mail from the United States usually takes one to three weeks to arrive, but it has been known to take several months or not arrive at all. Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly. Family members often become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. If a serious problem were to occur, Peace Corps/Jamaica would notify the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., which would then contact your family.  Also advise your family that in the case of an emergency, they can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington at 800.424.8580, extension 1470.
  
“Your Name,” PCT or “Your Name,” PCT
+
During pre-service training, your mail should be sent to the following address:
  
U.S. Peace Corps c/o the Peace Corps Office
+
“Your Name,” PCT
  
P.O. Box 7013 6/F PNB Financial Center
+
c/o Country Director
  
Airmail Distribution Center Macapagal Avenue
+
Peace Corps
  
N.A.I.A. 1300 Pasay City, Philippines 1308
+
8 Worthington Avenue
  
Pasay City, Philippines
+
Kingston, 5, Jamaica, West Indies
  
 +
Once you become a Volunteer and are at your site, you may choose to have your letters sent directly to your new address, but packages should always be sent by the U.S. Postal Service to the Peace Corps office at the above address. Packages sent to any other address, or sent through services like UPS, DHL, and Federal Express, will be held at the airport until you make the trip to claim them and pay duty.
  
A Peace Corps staff member picks up the mail from the airport post office box and sends it to Volunteer sites by special delivery (known in-country as the Peace Corps pouch) or through the Philippine mail system.  
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Packages can take from two weeks to four months to arrive. They must be lighter than 22 pounds and are cheaper to mail if they are less than 11 pounds. Note that books and documents that weigh a minimum of 11 pounds can be sent to you in an “M-Bag” through the U.S. Postal Service at a relatively economical rate. Further information is available at U.S. post offices and at www.usps.com.  
  
When the Peace Corps receives a package for you, it will notify you and ask you whether you want to pick up the package at the office in Manila or have it sent to you by regular Philippine mail. If a package is forwarded, you will be responsible for the cost. After training, many Volunteers choose to have packages and letters mailed directly to their site.
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====Telephones====
  
Peace Corps Volunteers use the Philippine postal system to send mail to friends and family. Postage for letters sent within the Philippines is very inexpensive (15 cents per 20 grams). An airmail letter weighing 20 grams or less to the United States costs 26 pesos (51 cents), a letter weighing 21 to 100 grams costs $2.10.
 
  
Peace Corps/Philippines advises you not to have packages sent directly to your site by surface mail. Even if the freight charges are prepaid in the United States, there will be numerous charges in the Philippines for customs, brokerage, storage, clearing, etc.
 
  
===Telephones ===
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Land-line telephones are available throughout the island except in very remote areas, and international phone service to and from Jamaica is fairly reliable. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI offer toll-free numbers that directly connect you with an operator to place a collect call. Prepaid calling cards called “World Talk” are available island-wide for local and overseas calls on public and private phones, but they can be expensive for long-distance calls. U.S. calling cards are not accepted.  If calling home collect is not an option, the most economical option is for your loved ones to call you directly. Many cellphones from the United States do not function in Jamaica, but there are four major cellphone companies providing reliable island-wide coverage. You are strongly encouraged to purchase a cellphone in-country rather than bringing one from home.
  
The Philippines has several phone companies, and household telephone service in rural areas is becoming more available.  People without phones usually go to a local telephone office and wait while a call is placed. Because this system often ties up all the available lines, it can be very difficult to receive a call in rural areas. You can sometimes arrange to receive calls on someone’s private phone. Volunteers generally find it most convenient to place calls to the United States when they are in Manila.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
  
Cellphones are very common. Volunteers who have brought cellphones find them to be helpful in calling and receiving calls from the United States. Calls home cost about 40 cents per minute. Volunteers sometimes call home collect, but if the call will be for more than a few minutes, we suggest that you call to give the number at which you can be reached and have the person call you back. Direct-dial calls to the Philippines are much cheaper than calls to the United States from the Philippines. Friends and relatives can call their local phone company for information on the best rates. To call Manila directly, precede the seven-digit number with 011 (the long distance code), 63 (the country code for the Philippines), and 2 (the city code for Manila).  
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If you bring a laptop, make certain it is insured and bring a power surge protector. (You might also consider bringing a portable printer.) E-mail access is becoming more available and is an economical way to communicate. Peace Corps/ Jamaica’s resource center is equipped with four computers with Internet access for use by Volunteers. There are also Internet cafes in the larger cities.  
  
Calls to the Peace Corps office after hours are answered by the security guard and relayed to the duty officer. Since it can take hours or even days for a Volunteer to return a call, the duty officer relays calls to Volunteers at their sites only in emergencies. In emergencies, it is best for your family to call Peace Corps/Washington at 800.424.8580, extension 1470.  After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, they can call 202.638.2574.
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===Housing and Site Location===
  
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ===
+
Your living conditions in Jamaica may not be as rugged as those in many Peace Corps posts. Most Volunteers have indoor plumbing and running water. The water usually is not heated, however, so be prepared for cold showers. Laundry, while usually washed by hand, is usually done in a sink or a washtub. Electricity exists island-wide, except in very remote areas. Very few Volunteers go without a refrigerator and other electrical appliances, and many Volunteers have amenities such as cable television.
  
The Philippines is part of the global community, and many cities now have Internet cafés. Thus, you will have access to e-mail, if not at your site, at least in a neighboring city. Though the Peace Corps discourages you from bringing a personal computer, some Volunteers have brought laptops and have found them useful. If you decide to bring a laptop, please be aware that many assignments are in rural areas with no electricity. Plan for humidity, a fluctuating current, and the risk of theft. Be certain to insure any expensive electronic equipment for loss before you come to the Philippines.  *UPDATE* As of Batch 272 (2013), the Peace Corps essentially assumes everyone has a computer, and even provides most training materials on a USB. Trainees find computers indispensable when preparing materials during training.  Humidity, etc., is a concern, but electronics stores in the Philippines do sell surge protectors, which can hep with the fluctuating current.
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Living conditions will vary depending upon whether your site is rural, peri-urban, or urban. Areas with mining, manufacturing, and tourism will have a higher standard of living. The agency to which you are assigned will assist you in identifying suitable housing. All Volunteers must live in the initial housing identified by their agency for at least the first four months of service after which Volunteers may move to different housing if they so desire (with the approval of Peace Corps staff). If accommodations do not meet your needs, it will be your responsibility to locate housing that meets specified budgetary, health, and safety criteria and is approved by Peace Corps staff. The most common living situations are a room with its own entrance, attached to a bathroom and kitchen that you share with a family; an apartment you share with another Volunteer; or your own place. Generally, Volunteers remain in the housing initially identified by their agency.  
  
===Housing and Site Location ===
+
During pre-service training, you will be placed with a host family for the community-based portion of training. Here you will receive a firsthand orientation to Jamaican culture and community life.
 
+
Your housing and site location will depend upon your assignment. For Volunteers assigned to rural areas or to small islands, housing is typically composed of hollow concrete blocks, wood, or bamboo. Education Volunteers are often assigned to towns or cities, where housing is better than in rural areas. Most houses in both rural and urban areas have running water (some with toilets that flush and others with toilets that require flushing with a pail of water) and 24-hour electricity.
+
 
+
Trainees are required to live with a host family during pre-service training, and Volunteers are required to live with host families during their first three months at their assigned site (the families usually are identified by the local agency the Volunteer is assigned to). After this period, you may choose to continue living with your host family or move into your own dwelling. Living with a Filipino family can help you integrate into your community, provide you with a deeper understanding of the local culture, and help you become comfortable with the local language.  
+
  
 
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
 
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
  
Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency sufficient to live at the level of the people they serve. The allowance is based on an annual survey and is intended to cover food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses such as reading material. Like Peace Corps Volunteer are Philippines that are expected to live at a level commensurate with that of their Filipino co-workers.  
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The local currency is the Jamaican dollar, and the exchange rate changes constantly. The Peace Corps will open checking accounts for you in local and U.S. currency at a branch of the National Commercial Bank, which will issue you an ATM card. Your living allowance and leave allowances will be deposited monthly into these accounts. To help facilitate this process, please send a scanned photo ID to jamaica@peacecorps.gov once you accept your invitation.  
  
Peace Corps/Philippines will open an ATM savings account for you at the Philippine National Bank (PNB) during the initial orientation. This ATM savings account will be used to deposit your living allowance, travel allowance for all training events and Peace Corps reimbursements for items such as medicine, work-related books, and payments to language tutors.
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===Food and Diet ===
  
ATMs are available in most major cities, but if you bring credit cards, you need to guard them carefully against theft. As in other countries, credit card scams exist in the Philippines. Some Volunteers choose to bring cash (in small denominations such as $20 bills) for vacation travel, buying gifts, and similar personal expenses.
+
Your diet may not need to change drastically while you are in Jamaica. The main source of meat is chicken, and you are likely to become a culinary expert in its preparation.. Beef, goat, and fish are also readily available.  
  
===Food and Diet ===
+
Vegetarians need not be concerned. Although there may be a smaller variety of foods than you are used to, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried beans and rice, are plentiful. Many rastafarians follow an "ital" diet which is vegetarian and often vegan, and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is widely available as a vegetarian protein source..  Note that Jamaicans love hot and spicy foods. For those who crave a taste of home, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Wendy’s, T.G.I.Friday’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut can be found in many urban areas. Also available in urban areas are imported food items. Once you move to your site, you will learn to make do with what is available locally—a little creativity does go a long way.
 
+
Rice is the staple food for most Filipinos who live in the lowlands, while corn, potatoes, and tubers are the staple foods of people who live in inland areas. Rice is often eaten with fish, pork, or chicken. Bread and noodles, mung beans, a variety of vegetables, and bananas and some other fruits are available in most towns. Food is often cooked in lard or coconut oil. Given Filipinos’ dietary preference for fish and meat (and sweets) over vegetables, maintaining a strict vegetarian diet can be difficult. Vegetarians need to spend extra time and energy to ensure that they maintain a healthy diet.  
+
  
 
===Transportation ===
 
===Transportation ===
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Within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, Portmore, Saint Andrew and Spanish Town), the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) runs a modern and efficient transportation system with hubs similar to those in America. Taxis and Hackney Carriages that operate rural routes are crowded and often do not operate on regular schedules. The JUTC operates three hubs within the Kingston Metropolitan Area; the very modern Half-Way Tree Transport Center, Parade, and The new Downtown Transport Center. Rural travel options range from large buses, minibuses and route taxis to pickup trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. It may be necessary for you to walk or bike long distances in hot, humid, or rainy weather. The Peace Corps issues bicycles and helmets to those who need them to get to work (supplies permitting). Volunteers are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles.
  
In cities or municipalities, the most common means of transportation are buses, minibuses, “jeepneys” (colorfully decorated converted World War II jeeps), vans, motorized tricycles, and pedicabs, depending upon the distance. Travel among islands occurs via airplanes, ships, or small motorboats.  Peace Corps/Philippines requires that Volunteers use public transportation and prohibits them from owning, operating, and riding on a motorcycle.
+
===Geography and Climate===
  
===Geography and Climate ===
+
Jamaica has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary between 80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and are about 10 degrees lower at higher elevations. Both days and nights generally are hot and humid in the summer months, while evenings are noticeably cooler during the winter. At higher elevations, especially between November and March, evenings can be quite chilly, and a light wrap, long-sleeved shirt, or sweatshirt may be necessary. Rain can occur any time throughout the year, though most likely from May through June and from September through October.  
 
+
The Philippines has typical tropical weather—hot and humid year-round. Although the weather pattern is fairly complex, it can roughly be divided into a dry season (January to June) and a wet season (July to December). January is usually the coolest month; May, the hottest. Higher elevations in northern Luzon can get cold at night or in windy, cloudy conditions.  
+
  
 
===Social Activities ===
 
===Social Activities ===
  
Volunteers often are invited to birthday parties, baptisms, weddings, blessings of new buildings or landmarks, and programs to celebrate holidays and important school or local events. Volunteers are encouraged to attend as many of these events as possible in order to get to know the people of their community as well as to learn Filipino customs and traditions.  
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Activities available for entertainment will depend on where you are assigned and how creative you are. Among the possibilities are reading, walking, writing letters, riding a bicycle, swimming, socializing with friends, taking classes, doing arts and crafts, going to the movies or plays, watching videos or television, listening to music or a shortwave radio, dancing at clubs or DJ parties, snorkeling, scuba diving, playing games (e.g., cards or dominoes, the national pastime), and playing musical instruments.  
  
 
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
 
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
  
Despite considerable Western influences, Philippine culture can be conservative, especially outside large cities. Filipinos put a high priority on a neat appearance, and Volunteers, whether urban or rural based, are expected to wear neat and clean clothing, especially when in public or at the office. Sleeveless shirts are rarely acceptable on women; similarly, women generally wear a t-shirt and shorts to swim, even in swimming pools. A poor public appearance can deter Filipinos from getting to know you or accepting you, thereby limiting your effectiveness. Remember that you are a professional, not a backpacker or a world traveler.
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You will be working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in cooperation with a government ministry or Jamaican organization and will be expected to dress and behave as a professional. Most professional Jamaicans dress well and follow a conservative dress code. If this dress code is not maintained, it is seen as disrespectful. While tourists may wear short shorts and transparent clothing, such attire is not appropriate for Volunteers.
 +
 
 +
Peace Corps/Jamaica has guidelines for appropriate professional dress, which you are expected to adhere to when visiting business establishments or the Peace Corps office, especially during working hours. Men should wear long trousers (not jeans), a short- or long-sleeved shirt with a collar, and leather shoes with socks. Women should wear a skirt and blouse, a nice pantsuit, or a dress, with nice closed-toe dress shoes or flats. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, casual sandals (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks), and other casual wear are inappropriate except during some field-oriented activities.
 +
 
 +
Flip-flops should not be worn during pre-service training or during work hours. Any body piercings besides in the ear are inappropriate; please remove these piercings before you have sex. Visible tattoos are also inappropriate and should be kept covered to the extent possible.
  
 
===Personal Safety ===
 
===Personal Safety ===
  
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Philippine Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in the Philippines. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
+
More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, oftentimes alone, having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Jamaica. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your own safety and well-being.  
  
 
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
 
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
  
In a country that is still predominantly agricultural, daily life revolves more around the seasons, planting, and harvesting than around making money. The result can be a lack of concern for punctuality. For Filipinos, there is always time, while for Westerners, there may never be enough. Because appointments do not necessarily happen as scheduled, patience is one virtue that Volunteers develop while working in the Philippines.  
+
The real sacrifices you will make in the Peace Corps are in the form of the tremendous daily, even hourly, efforts you will make to operate and be effective in another culture and the constant struggle to be self-aware and sensitive. A former Volunteer explains:
 +
 
 +
“Most of us agree that although we knew the Peace Corps was going to be hard, it is often hard in a different way than we expected. We all worried about adjusting to the bugs and the heat, but that’s the easy part. It’s more of a challenge to get used to dealing with perplexing bureaucracy, the lack of motivation in some host country counterparts, the lack of technology and education, and cultural barriers.” As with most developing countries, there will be challenges such as irregular transportation, disruptions in electrical and water supplies, and inordinate delays in getting things done.  
  
Traditional Filipino kinship customs contribute to a lax attitude toward helping oneself to family members’ personal possessions. Sharing is common and not doing so is considered stingy. If you do not want something of yours to be touched in a Filipino home, you have to put it away in a locked place.  
+
Your maturity, openness to change, and commitment to the Peace Corps will greatly enhance your ability to adapt to living and working in Jamaica. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the rewards are well worth the difficulties, and most Volunteers leave Jamaica feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service.  
  
Since the closing of the American military bases in 1991, relations between the United States and the Philippines have improved. Many Filipinos are grateful to Americans for liberating them from Spain and for introducing modern standards of education and democracy. In general, there is a feeling of goodwill toward Americans, especially in the countryside.
 
  
[[Category:Philippines]]
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[[Category:Jamaica]]

Latest revision as of 12:34, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications[edit]

Mail[edit]

Mail from the United States usually takes one to three weeks to arrive, but it has been known to take several months or not arrive at all. Despite the delays, we encourage you to write to your family regularly. Family members often become worried when they do not hear from you, so it is a good idea to advise them that mail service is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. If a serious problem were to occur, Peace Corps/Jamaica would notify the Office of Special Services at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., which would then contact your family. Also advise your family that in the case of an emergency, they can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington at 800.424.8580, extension 1470.

During pre-service training, your mail should be sent to the following address:

“Your Name,” PCT

c/o Country Director

Peace Corps

8 Worthington Avenue

Kingston, 5, Jamaica, West Indies

Once you become a Volunteer and are at your site, you may choose to have your letters sent directly to your new address, but packages should always be sent by the U.S. Postal Service to the Peace Corps office at the above address. Packages sent to any other address, or sent through services like UPS, DHL, and Federal Express, will be held at the airport until you make the trip to claim them and pay duty.

Packages can take from two weeks to four months to arrive. They must be lighter than 22 pounds and are cheaper to mail if they are less than 11 pounds. Note that books and documents that weigh a minimum of 11 pounds can be sent to you in an “M-Bag” through the U.S. Postal Service at a relatively economical rate. Further information is available at U.S. post offices and at www.usps.com.

Telephones[edit]

Land-line telephones are available throughout the island except in very remote areas, and international phone service to and from Jamaica is fairly reliable. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI offer toll-free numbers that directly connect you with an operator to place a collect call. Prepaid calling cards called “World Talk” are available island-wide for local and overseas calls on public and private phones, but they can be expensive for long-distance calls. U.S. calling cards are not accepted. If calling home collect is not an option, the most economical option is for your loved ones to call you directly. Many cellphones from the United States do not function in Jamaica, but there are four major cellphone companies providing reliable island-wide coverage. You are strongly encouraged to purchase a cellphone in-country rather than bringing one from home.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access[edit]

If you bring a laptop, make certain it is insured and bring a power surge protector. (You might also consider bringing a portable printer.) E-mail access is becoming more available and is an economical way to communicate. Peace Corps/ Jamaica’s resource center is equipped with four computers with Internet access for use by Volunteers. There are also Internet cafes in the larger cities.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

Your living conditions in Jamaica may not be as rugged as those in many Peace Corps posts. Most Volunteers have indoor plumbing and running water. The water usually is not heated, however, so be prepared for cold showers. Laundry, while usually washed by hand, is usually done in a sink or a washtub. Electricity exists island-wide, except in very remote areas. Very few Volunteers go without a refrigerator and other electrical appliances, and many Volunteers have amenities such as cable television.

Living conditions will vary depending upon whether your site is rural, peri-urban, or urban. Areas with mining, manufacturing, and tourism will have a higher standard of living. The agency to which you are assigned will assist you in identifying suitable housing. All Volunteers must live in the initial housing identified by their agency for at least the first four months of service after which Volunteers may move to different housing if they so desire (with the approval of Peace Corps staff). If accommodations do not meet your needs, it will be your responsibility to locate housing that meets specified budgetary, health, and safety criteria and is approved by Peace Corps staff. The most common living situations are a room with its own entrance, attached to a bathroom and kitchen that you share with a family; an apartment you share with another Volunteer; or your own place. Generally, Volunteers remain in the housing initially identified by their agency.

During pre-service training, you will be placed with a host family for the community-based portion of training. Here you will receive a firsthand orientation to Jamaican culture and community life.

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

The local currency is the Jamaican dollar, and the exchange rate changes constantly. The Peace Corps will open checking accounts for you in local and U.S. currency at a branch of the National Commercial Bank, which will issue you an ATM card. Your living allowance and leave allowances will be deposited monthly into these accounts. To help facilitate this process, please send a scanned photo ID to jamaica@peacecorps.gov once you accept your invitation.

Food and Diet[edit]

Your diet may not need to change drastically while you are in Jamaica. The main source of meat is chicken, and you are likely to become a culinary expert in its preparation.. Beef, goat, and fish are also readily available.

Vegetarians need not be concerned. Although there may be a smaller variety of foods than you are used to, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried beans and rice, are plentiful. Many rastafarians follow an "ital" diet which is vegetarian and often vegan, and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is widely available as a vegetarian protein source.. Note that Jamaicans love hot and spicy foods. For those who crave a taste of home, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Wendy’s, T.G.I.Friday’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut can be found in many urban areas. Also available in urban areas are imported food items. Once you move to your site, you will learn to make do with what is available locally—a little creativity does go a long way.

Transportation[edit]

Within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, Portmore, Saint Andrew and Spanish Town), the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) runs a modern and efficient transportation system with hubs similar to those in America. Taxis and Hackney Carriages that operate rural routes are crowded and often do not operate on regular schedules. The JUTC operates three hubs within the Kingston Metropolitan Area; the very modern Half-Way Tree Transport Center, Parade, and The new Downtown Transport Center. Rural travel options range from large buses, minibuses and route taxis to pickup trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. It may be necessary for you to walk or bike long distances in hot, humid, or rainy weather. The Peace Corps issues bicycles and helmets to those who need them to get to work (supplies permitting). Volunteers are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles.

Geography and Climate[edit]

Jamaica has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary between 80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and are about 10 degrees lower at higher elevations. Both days and nights generally are hot and humid in the summer months, while evenings are noticeably cooler during the winter. At higher elevations, especially between November and March, evenings can be quite chilly, and a light wrap, long-sleeved shirt, or sweatshirt may be necessary. Rain can occur any time throughout the year, though most likely from May through June and from September through October.

Social Activities[edit]

Activities available for entertainment will depend on where you are assigned and how creative you are. Among the possibilities are reading, walking, writing letters, riding a bicycle, swimming, socializing with friends, taking classes, doing arts and crafts, going to the movies or plays, watching videos or television, listening to music or a shortwave radio, dancing at clubs or DJ parties, snorkeling, scuba diving, playing games (e.g., cards or dominoes, the national pastime), and playing musical instruments.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior[edit]

You will be working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in cooperation with a government ministry or Jamaican organization and will be expected to dress and behave as a professional. Most professional Jamaicans dress well and follow a conservative dress code. If this dress code is not maintained, it is seen as disrespectful. While tourists may wear short shorts and transparent clothing, such attire is not appropriate for Volunteers.

Peace Corps/Jamaica has guidelines for appropriate professional dress, which you are expected to adhere to when visiting business establishments or the Peace Corps office, especially during working hours. Men should wear long trousers (not jeans), a short- or long-sleeved shirt with a collar, and leather shoes with socks. Women should wear a skirt and blouse, a nice pantsuit, or a dress, with nice closed-toe dress shoes or flats. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, casual sandals (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks), and other casual wear are inappropriate except during some field-oriented activities.

Flip-flops should not be worn during pre-service training or during work hours. Any body piercings besides in the ear are inappropriate; please remove these piercings before you have sex. Visible tattoos are also inappropriate and should be kept covered to the extent possible.

Personal Safety[edit]

More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, oftentimes alone, having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Jamaica. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your own safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

The real sacrifices you will make in the Peace Corps are in the form of the tremendous daily, even hourly, efforts you will make to operate and be effective in another culture and the constant struggle to be self-aware and sensitive. A former Volunteer explains:

“Most of us agree that although we knew the Peace Corps was going to be hard, it is often hard in a different way than we expected. We all worried about adjusting to the bugs and the heat, but that’s the easy part. It’s more of a challenge to get used to dealing with perplexing bureaucracy, the lack of motivation in some host country counterparts, the lack of technology and education, and cultural barriers.” As with most developing countries, there will be challenges such as irregular transportation, disruptions in electrical and water supplies, and inordinate delays in getting things done.

Your maturity, openness to change, and commitment to the Peace Corps will greatly enhance your ability to adapt to living and working in Jamaica. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the rewards are well worth the difficulties, and most Volunteers leave Jamaica feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service.