Projects Abroad Jamaica is one year old!
Jamaica officially celebrates its one year anniversary on April 1. Team Jamaica would like to sincerely thank everyone for their support over the year and we look forward to working with you all in the coming years. It has truly being a pleasure. Please ensure you see April’s Jamaica newsletter for some anniversary highlights.
How it all Started
Having the spirit of volunteerism entrenched in me since I was small by my father, when I saw the advertisement from Projects Abroad for a Country Director I jumped at the opportunity to apply. The email kept floating through my inbox from at least three sources so I thought “this must be a sign”. I rushed to the website to get some more information on Projects Abroad and find out if “Mircea Samoila”, whose name was on the job advert, was male or female since I needed to address the person properly; Miss Samoila or Mr. Samoila. The picture of Mircea didn’t help much! It is the “he” in the brief description that gave me the hint. I prepared a cover letter and CV and sent it off to “Mr. Samoila” on Friday March 28, 2008.
I was in Montego Bay that fateful Monday morning of March 31, 2008 when a Jamaican number with an unfamiliar Scottish accent called wanting to have an interview that day; it was Greg Thomson, Projects Abroad Operations Director. I explained that perhaps April 1, 2008 at 6pm would be a good time because I was out of town. Shocked, I didn’t know they were actually in Jamaica. With some anticipation I arrived for the interview at 5:45pm. Alas, there was Greg and Mircea (Country Director for Romania), quite casual in their approach but welcoming. This was a little different for me as every interview I have been to there are people in jacket and ties, around an intimating desk in a large office or conference room. I became relaxed but they began to “give it to mi”, questions after questions. Greg then popped out his “scenario book” and I recall getting about seven scenarios to solve. Mircea kept reassuring me that in good time he would stop but he kept going. It is perhaps one of the longest interviews I have ever had but now I can truly understand Greg’s rationale and so I have developed my own little scenarios book. I learn from the best. I was told the following morning I would hear if I was selected. But low and behold, my phone rang at about 9pm and there was Greg telling me I was selected.
The next few days we were all over Mandeville visiting placements and host families and trying to find an office space and equipment. The reception to having Projects Abroad in Jamaica was really positive and still remains that way. The last year has been incredible. The volunteers have given new meaning to what it means to impact the life of someone. From putting a smile on a child’s face, attending to their every need, helping a patient or building a water tank, all of this has far reaching positive implications for “Jamaica Land We Love”. And so I say to Projects Abroad, thanks for having me on the team, to Team Jamaica thanks for the hard work and commitment, heartfelt gratitude to all host families, placements and partners and to the volunteers thanks for all you have done for my country. I am truly blessed to be Jamaican.
Bridgette B. Barrett
Jamaica Country Director