Are you a Peace Corp volunteer? You’ll love this guest post by my friend Michelle. She and her husband Jedd served in Jamaica and now run their own business as they travel the world. They’re also both featured in my Re-entry Roadmap creative workbook! Ok, Michelle…over to you! -Cate
After working for half a decade, my husband and I quit our jobs to serve with the Peace Corps in Jamaica from 2012 to 2014. It was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to live, work, and become part of a community that we otherwise would never have experienced.
For two years, we shopped at the outdoor farmer’s market in town, took public buses alongside our neighbors or walked in the hot sun, and shared in the daily life and special celebrations of our small, rural community.
Diving deep into Jamaican culture taught us tremendous lessons about ourselves, human nature, and the realities of our world.
Jamaicans are famous for their phrase, “No problem, man.” And despite what they want to believe, they really do say it all the time! This laid-back, island vibe definitely rubbed off on us and has really helped me, personally, balance out my Type A tendencies.
Many (though not all) Jamaicans also have a beautiful attitude of gratitude. Even when things are difficult, when asked how they’re doing, the response is: “I’m giving thanks.” Living amidst Jamaica’s poverty helped us put things into proper perspective and reminds us to be grateful.
Our Peace Corps experience was the first time we’d lived in another country together. We found that we loved the challenge and growth that comes from cross-cultural experiences, and we chose to keep that as an integral aspect to our lives after service.
Thankfully, with the ability to work online, we’ve been able to continue visiting new places as “digital nomads.” Wherever we go, we try to stay with personal connections or find homestays to help us build an authentic connection in those new cultures, similar to what we did in Jamaica.
Living in a developing country has given us a different frame of reference toward the things we need to get by. We are less likely to compare “up” (keeping up with the Joneses) because we know most of the world doesn’t live in the affluence and ease of our home culture. We sold or donated most of our stuff when we signed up for Peace Corps and for the past 16 months, we’ve essentially been living out of a suitcase (with a few boxes in storage at our family’s house). We have a new sense of what’s “enough” and it’s enabled us the freedom and flexibility to prioritize our true values better.
Thanks so much for sharing how you adjusted your post-Peace Corps life after living in Jamaica, Michelle!