Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Interview #1 With St. Lucia PCV Jamelyn Ebelacker

IMG_1283

Interview was conducted by Katie Anderson with Kat’s Eye View and Ashley DeBoer with Thoughtful Blonde

Katie and I prompted questions and Jamie answered, so all the answers will be recorded in first person. 

Interviewee’s Name:

Jamelyn Ebelacker, you can call me Jamie. 

Quick background on Jamie: Jamie is currently serving in St. Lucia, but she began her service in Dominica, where Jamie along with her fellow PCVs were later evacuated due to hurricane Maria 2 years ago. After months of rebuilding and recouping, she had to change her assignment to work in St. Lucia. She is the Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean social media guru and a great mentor to many trainees, as she is the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader. We are so excited to share her thoughts and advice with you all! 

Educational Background on Jamelyn: 

I went to a very small high school in Anchorage, Alaska at Steller Secondary School. That was the beginning development of my ability to work independently and create projects on my own. Then, I went to the Institute of Native American Arts in Sante Fe, New Mexico, where I got my BFA in New Media Arts. My background is a big driving factor in what I do on the island as far as my projects go, digitally and artistically. 

What is your title/ role in the Peace Corps?

My title is English Literacy Co-Teacher, but you wear many hats here. Some other titles that are used are Literacy Support and Literacy Specialist, but essentially, you are working with a counterpart teacher or two, and then working on different projects and committees. 

 What does a typical day look like for you? Where do you spend your days?

When school is in session, it’s basically wake up, get ready, and then my school is almost in my backyard, so I just walk on over as the bell is ringing. I get there as the kids are lining up then it begins with morning songs, prayers, and then depending on how many teachers are there, it’s a matter of morning exercising, getting the kids settled, and easing them into the day. After that, the day is utter chaos, but it’s FUN. It’s both fun and frustrating, but that’s part of the challenge for the volunteer to make it more fun than frustrating. 

IMG_1282

Why did you choose to serve in the PC/ go to the Eastern Caribbean?

Eastern Caribbean was actually my third choice because I didn’t think I was necessarily qualified for the position, but something drew me to pick the EC as my third choice when I was applying. I’m so happy it did. I think rather than me picking this post, this post picked me. That’s how I’ve continued to feel throughout my service. There’s a continuity of kismet that underlies my service, things that just feel right. Those things remind me that I’m in place that I’m meant to be. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

In my family, I have two places where I draw my inspiration from. First, on my dad’s Native American side, I can come from a very long line of powerful women, matriarchs that really carried the family through tough times and I try to draw inspiration from their struggles and their triumphs. On another part of my family, the multigenerational members of the armed services, I come from a long line of military— both of my parents, grandparents, their parents, and so on, both on the native and non-native side. I knew I always wanted to serve and give back, but I didn’t want to be in the military or be in a position where I may have to harm someone. So I figured this is the best possible outcome: I still get to serve my country in the Peace Corps and spread the love, instead of the hate. 

What’s your favorite part about service?

Every single day is something new! For someone who gets easily bored or distracted, I love that. I love that I never know what’s going to happen day to day and there’s always something new to learn and try. That’s a beautiful way to live life. 

If you could give a new peace corp trainee any advice knowing what you know, what would that be? 

In my wise second year of being a PCV, the best advice I could give to a trainee is that your service isn’t going to look like anyone else’s and you can’t compare it to anyone else’s. You can’t go into your site and look at what the previous volunteer before you did, and try to uphold that same standard for yourself. You have to do your own time and create your own path, and not be so hard on yourself if your service doesn’t look like your neighbors or another volunteer’s. And that’s the beautiful thing about it, service is different for everyone. 

What is the most challenging aspect of service for you?

The most challenging part was dealing with hurricane Maria and how that really affected me on so many levels. You never think you’re going to join the Peace Corps and then you’re going to go through these experiences, but it’s been both good and bad. I learned a lot about myself, especially how I am and how I react in emergency and desperate situations. Even in the face of those situations, I’m proud of my response. People can choose “flight or fight” during those challenging times or shrink under the pressure, I’m proud to know that I could remain strong and step up for my Peace Corp family. That was a big challenge because that was my family in the moment, and not having control or the ability to take care of them as best as I wanted to, that was the hardest part. I’ve learned a lot about being prepared ahead of time now and taking things seriously, and being sympathetic to everyone’s situation. No matter what happens to a volunteer during their service, I know it’s not easy, and I’m here for you and whatever you need. That’s the biggest lesson I got out of that. 

***Hurricanes are a reality for us on Eastern Caribbean, and things can change in a blink of an eye while living on the island. PC provides evacuation/ consolidation routes and preparation sessions during training**

Greatest achievements during service?

Another PCV we interviewed Emily chimed in about Jamie to give credit where credit is due, and Jamie is responsible for getting all of the social media started for the Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean. She has grown the social media pages through her art, vision, and consistency. 

Jamie: “PC Eastern Caribbean is one of the oldest posts, yet we don’t have a facebook, instagram, youtube like these other posts. Where is ours? Why don’t we have those? It blew my mind, so it fell at my feet to make it happen with the support of other great volunteers. I’ve built on that with my expertise and I feel as though I’ve built the foundation for something that will last long after I’m gone” 

Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Facebook Page

Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Instagram

What are some projects you’ve been involved with and never expected to outside of the primary literacy project?

There two different categories for this— the at school projects and the community projects. At school, I never expected to be wearing an apron in the kitchen, baking up bakes and doughnuts for fundraisers and hanging out with the cool ladies in the kitchen, but here I am. In the community, I never expected to be taking over St. Lucia’s longest running beach and community clean up, helping it grow and bringing it up to a whole new level, but it’s been a beautiful way to feel as though I’m giving back. A few other things I do are mostly online by sending newsletters, emails, and running the social media. I take on a lot of digital projects, and although I didn’t expect to do that when coming down here, I’m glad I get to put my degree to good use and give back way in a way that was unexpected. 

Top things you think are essential to pack/ couldn’t live without!

EXTRA cords (phone cords, headphones, battery charges), you’ll need it. Hot sauces. ASS WIPES. 

How did you budget your money on a peace corps stipend?/ do you have any budgeting tips while in the peace corps?

You’re always going to run up against that low number in your account towards the end of the month, unless you eat like a bird and never leave your house. One of the things I do to combat that is I ALWAYS within a day or two of the money dropping into my account, I go and take out the money that I need for rent, gas, electric, fix bills, and stuff it away in a safe place until I can pay it. Being able to break it down and you get a VICA that breaks it down for your costs/ expenses is extremely helpful. Even if you aren’t the best at planning, make a rudimentary budget to see how much you can really spend on going out, travel, the extra things, until you are able to self regulate. 

Be thrifty and channel your inner recycler. I wear things will holes in them and then sow them up when they get too bad. I make my own furniture out of rum bottles. I just keep reusing and repurposing things, which helps stretch the budget. GET CRAFTY!

Why did you decide to extend your service for a 3rd year? What are your intentions for your close of service?

I decided to extend because I fell in love with St. Lucia. I fell in love with the food, the views, the people, and the culture. I realized when we had to make the decision to extend, I wasn’t done. I wasn’t ready to start saying my goodbyes and that I had more to contribute. By extending, it would allow me to continue my projects and make sure they were ready for my locals and host country nationals and neighbors to take them over when I leave. I really wanted to spend more time living on a tropical island. 

My intentions for COS, I am still thinking about it. There’s so many things I want to do, but I’ve narrowed it down to get a MBA and/or applying to work for the National Park Service. That sounds like a dang good time! (side note, peace corps has great connections with fellowships). 

Thank you so much Jamie for sharing your heart and experience with us all at Thoughtful Blonde and Kat’s Eye View! Stay tuned for the next interview! 

Advertisements

Why I Wear Aid Through Trade Bracelets

IMG_1266footer-promo-1

As many of you know, I am an economics major and economic development along with supporting women empowerment towards financial freedom are two things I hold near and dear to my heart and I will continue to gravitate towards brands that have the same vision I do. With passion and admiration, I choose to be an advocate for Aid Through Trade.

When I was in Key West last summer, I came across Aid Through Trade bracelets in a cute little shop and whipped out my phone to google them and was amazed by what I discovered. Not only were these beaded bracelets beautiful and elegantly crafted, but they also had a deeper meaning that made me feel as though I was helping make a difference, that I was a part of something bigger than myself.

Now a year later, my wrist is always clothed in the famous Roll-On Bracelets, no matter where I am going or what I’m doing.

When I read their vision: “Empower the lives of women through ethical, fair, and sustainable employment.” I was hooked. As a consumer and as an economic student, I’m reminded it’s in our power to buy products and support brands that make an impact on a larger scale as each purchase from Aid Through Trade directly supports their commitment to empowering women through ethical and fair employment. This is a company that is working to make a positive impact on lives around the world, and another way they are doing that is by being a part of Green America— which focuses on sustainability through limiting their environmental footprint.

What’s not to LOVE?

I mean, look how cute my Capri Coast Roll-On Bracelets are!

I’ve linked my bracelet below, along with a few of my favorites. Also, you can go to their website and browse for yourself and learn more about their ethical company.

Make a purchase
Support these artisan women
Share this article to help them gain exposure!

 

Roll-On® Bracelets <br> Capri Coast

Maddie Ruth’s “If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is”

Maddie Ruth’s “If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is”

This is the start of something really special; Maddie’s story is the first one I get to share on my blog for Empowering Women and I can’t thank her enough for being real, vulnerable, and open with you all to share her experience, insight, and advice. To read more posts from Maddie, her blog is https://withlovexom.blogspot.com!!!

It has been eight months since I made the best decision of my life.

I wanted to be in love with myself. With who I had in my life at the time, there was no way that would ever happen. I had to delete the negative to be able to receive that positive I was searching for.

So there I was, I was in love.

Love is great.
Love is strange.
Love is also blinding and my first love blinded me.

He turned me into someone that I never want to know again. I am going to share with you my story about how the man of my dreams made me realize that just because it is a ‘dream come true’ does not mean it suppose to be a forever type of love.

Why am I sharing this?

I never want someone to feel the type of pain I felt.

You know when you like someone and you want them in your life, you start to look past all the red flags. You just shrug them off and think ‘he really loves me so it’s okay.’ and begin to justify their actions.Well, it is actually not okay.

When I was a small child, my cousin sexually abused me. He was much older than me; the memories of this caused me so much pain, anxiety, depression and fear in my life. The problem about being a fighter (I use this word instead of victim because I am not weak) after sexual abuse is that you carry that weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life. Of course, you find ways to cope, but those memories never go away. You just learn how to make them hurt less with time. Which is a bunch of shit, if you ask me.

Now fast forward to where I was about a year and a half ago.

After finally coming out about my childhood nightmare, all I ever wanted was to feel loved. I’m not talking about the kind of love you have with your family because I had that— I love my parents more than anything. I wanted the love where you feel craved and desired. I wanted a love that would make me feel good about myself.

Then, there he was— blonde hair and blue eyed, standing there looking so good I wanted to eat him. It didn’t take long because a week later, we were dating.

That should have been the first red flag.

Who dates after only knowing each other for a week? I am sure people do, but I knew nothing about him. He came off timid and sweet and I was head over heels. I will tell you I had the best first eight months of my life with this kid. He was a dream.

A dream. That is all he ever was. We were long distance so I only saw the part of him that he wanted me to see. I will never forget the day he said to me “What if I change and you no longer like who I am.” Months later he did change, and not in a good way; I guess he was trying to warn me.

This relationship wasn’t all that bad. I learned a lot, I learned enough that I am going to share with you what I learned to help you. (You can thank me later).

He puts down his mother?

It doesn’t matter the circumstance…RUN. If he doesn’t respect the woman who gave him life then he will never respect you.

“All women just want the money”

If he says that and he breaks your heart just remember I warned you.

He tells you, “You’re so stupid”

First of all, throw the heaviest object at him that you can find at the moment and then end things immediately.

“You’re so clingy”

If you just want to cuddle tell him goodbye, if you want his location, boss’s phone number, social security number, and a phone call every hour you for sure need to chill.

“We can only talk on this day, and at this time”

LOL…True story I was blinded enough to deal with this. If this happens to you I want to remind you that no matter what he looks like undressed this type of personality should immediate turn you off.

He tries to change you

I have never understood that when people try to change the person that they are dating. I mean your personality from the start is what drew them to you, why suddenly is that no longer doable for them? If your S/O tries this, laugh and tell him to screw off.

Complains about money

I’m sorry?

Compares you to an ex

HA HA HA HA HA HA girl you can do better than him anyways

Doesn’t support you

This was my major problem in my last relationship. Support is everything if you are killing it and he is unable to recognize that I am making this clear to you that you can find better. There is someone out there looking to give you the recognition and support you deserve for all of the bomb s*** you do.

Remember your happiness comes first
I was always so afraid to upset my ex. I would get so worked up over nothing and that was not fair. Your health and happiness should always come first because happiness comes from with in. You can’t rely on someone else for your happiness.

He may try to hit you with the ‘let’s be friends’ line and honestly if you two couldn’t connect in an intimate relationship, a friendship might be hard to create after a break up.

Overall, what I want you to get out of reading this is that you have the power to be a self-motivated, independent, happy woman. I can’t tell you what to be, where to be or who to be, but I can tell you that if your man does most of these 10 things you can do better. I don’t believe men do it unintentionally sometimes it just happens out of anyone’s control. How you can control it is stick up for yourself.

If you see something you don’t like say something don’t be passive.
GIRLS ARE SO PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE.
I know I am and I am working to be more honest, straightforward and confident. Never let a man dull your shine girl, we all have had that one major heart break and I am telling you that you will survive.

Be you, know your worth and the right person will come along. You don’t need to put up with a guy just because you feel as though you can’t live without him.

With lots of love,
M

Loving The JORD Wood Watches

Loving The JORD Wood Watches

This is a sponsored partnership with JORD, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that Thoughtful Blonde loves.

Wooden Wristwatch

Having a watch that matches your style and compliments all the other jewelry you love to wear is vital, so when I came across JORD watches, I was hooked. Browsing the website and the Instagram, my biggest struggle was picking my favorite one; after a long-hard look, I decided on the Cora Series, Koa & Rose Gold. When my wood watch came in the mail, I was so excited and it was already sized perfectly to fit, so I didn’t have worry about messing around with the links. It made my life even easier, and now I’m obsessed with my new arm candy.

I’ve always liked the look of wood watches on others, whether that was in person or scrolling through my Instagram feed. I wear the same jewelry everyday, and I like to keep it rather simple so, you’ll always see a Pandora bracelet and a JORD watch on me 95% of the time. It goes with everything and anything, from casual wear to business attire, and that’s why I wear when rocking out to concerts or shopping down in Naples.

JORD is having their largest Holiday Campaign and you are able to claim an instant gift code by following this link: and select what watch series and model are your favorite! You should spend some time browsing their website and finding the perfect match for you. It also makes the perfect gift, for your mom, best friend, your BIG, your LITTLE, your roommate, your boyfriend’s mom. I am putting together a holiday gift guide (so stay tuned right before thanksgiving that will publish) and you can bet I’m including JORD wood watches in it!

For a Black Friday SALE, follow this link– https://woodwatches.com/black-friday/thoughtfulblonde to save on my watch that I linked right below!

Shop my watch: https://www.jordwatches.com/series/cora/koa-and-rose-gold/… or shop directly on their site: https://www.woodwatches.com/#thoughtfulblonde because we all know Christmas is right around the corner, and watches from JORD make the perfect gift.

I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Being a GirlBoss with HBO

Being a GirlBoss with HBO

This is a sponsored partnership with HBO and Her Campus. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Thoughtful Blonde possible!

Whenever my mom calls me, she doesn’t even try to guess where I am anymore because I am everywhere and anywhere, between meetings, clubs, school, events, volunteering, and working.

Lately, life has been extremely crazy and filled from sun up to sun down, but I’m sure you can relate. I just finished curating my spring schedule for school, creating a budget for my organization, pitching an idea with a program I’m involved in, interviewing for summer internships, attending classes, taking exams, and the list could go on all day.

While I have a mini-rant about all the things I have to achieve that are diligently written down in my overflowing planner, I remind myself– I need to make time for things I enjoy and escape from the craziness so I don’t get buried down in all business, and no play. Sometimes, my brain is moving so fast and I’m suppose to be in more than one place at a time, as if that were actually possible. Wouldn’t that be nice?

However, no matter how busy I get, I have a constant escape— HBO Go and HBO NOW

Of course I have certain shows I refuse to miss like Game of Thrones and Ballers when they air, but sometimes, life gets in the way and I’m forced to avoid social media until I get on the HBO Go App or go to https://play.hbogo.com and watch the episodes I missed. Every season, every episode is patiently waiting for me to watch on my own time, which is perfect, when I don’t have a consistent schedule. Who says you can’t balance it all? Let’s just leave out the social life aspect though because I value curling up in my bed, in sweatpants to catch up on my shows more than going out and being social, more often than not.

 

So, I downloaded the HBO Go App on my phone and that has made life so much more enjoyable during the little bit of extra time I do have. Whether it’s downtime between classes or meetings or waiting on my friend who is always 30 minutes late, I just catch up on some of my favorite series or explore some of the new HBO movie options. So the downtime is fine because it’s easily filled with exciting new love connections and plot twists from HBO Go and HBO Now.

IMG_1087

IMG_1081

 

ALSO, a really great charity event and giveaway HBO does is “Night of Too Many.”  HBO will be giving away 2 tickets to A Night of Too Many Stars in NYC (with hotel and airfare covered). On Nov.18th at 8pm (ET), HBO will be airing NIGHT OF TOO MANY STARS: UNITES FOR AUTISM PROGRAMS. With an estimated 1 in 68 children currently affected by autism, this was created to support autism schools, programs, and services and they’ve raised over 24$ million to date. So in order to be entered into this giveaway, post a picture of something you have “Too Many of” with the hashtags #NightsofTooManyStars & #Contest because you already know you have too many shoes, too many makeup pallettes, and one too many homework assignments.

For giveaway rules: http://notmscontestrules.dja.com/

For more info: INFO or http://itsh.bo/NOTMSTickets

To view the trailer for this awesome event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl3JqKXO_OU

No purchase necessary. Ends 11/8. Open to residents if the 48 contiguous US and D.C., 18+

So check out my entry for this #contest #TooManyOf #NightsofTooMany

IMG_1556

I totally have too many books– maybe you can call me a hoarder or an excellent collector, but books are the one thing I have #TooManyOf so show HBO what you have #TooManyOf and good luck! You’ll see this on my IG: Thoughtful Blonde