PCV Finds Closure through Successful PCR Service
By ERIC BARNETT
Peace Corps Response Jamaica
Peace Corps Mauritania, 2008-2009
My path to Peace Corps Response was a little different from most. I was evacuated from Peace Corps/Mauritania in August 2009 after 15 months of service. I was left feeling defeated - as if my Peace Corps experiences and home were being taken away from me for something beyond my control. Yet I still wanted to continue my service in some capacity, and Peace Corps Response proved to be my best option. What really appealed to me was the shorter timeframe and the ability to choose my placement.
I am a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Jamaica and am assigned to work with the Negril area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT). NEPT is the managing organization for the Royal Palm Reserve, an ecotourism attraction in Negril. I was charged with developing a new marketing strategy and writing a new marketing plan for the Reserve, which has been a great transition from my work in Mauritania (where I was a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer). Thus far, my work in Jamaica has presented me with a unique challenge: This is the first time my work is so environmentally focused. I have, for all intents and purposes, become a conservationist.
The Royal Palm Reserve is a 130-acre nature reserve built in the Negril wetlands in the late 1980s. The Reserve is home to the largest stand of endemic Jamaican royal palm and also boasts one of the largest flocks of the West Indian whistling duck, an endangered species. Being an ecotourism attraction, the Royal Palm Reserve and NEPT are at the forefront of environmental issues in Jamaica.
My favorite aspect of Peace Corps Response was being able to start work almost immediately. Peace Corps staff members recognize the fact that you are already trained in cultural adaptation. My training only lasted five days, and before I knew it, I was in Negril starting my assignment! Also, knowing that my assignment is only six months, the incentive to work hard is ever-present. A friend of mine basically explained Peace Corps Response as being the same thing as Peace Corps "graduate school," and that's really how it feels for me.
I am currently in my final month of service with Peace Corps Response. I no longer feel as if I have had my life displaced. It has been wonderful to see my projects through from start to finish. My experience in Jamaica has truly given me a sense of closure for my overall Peace Corps service.
Last updated Jan 30 2014