Just as with my 1L law school experience in a remote environment, it took some initial effort to reach out and connect with my coworkers, both in the field and who were working from remote locations around the world, though the individuals I interact with are mostly spread across the United States if they are not on the field team in Jamaica. However, all of the people I’ve met online I’ve so far genuinely enjoyed connecting with- from my director supervisor to the handful of people in Jamaica I’m working with, to even the senior director of my division at Winrock who met with me by the second week. She is incredibly warm and inviting, interested in both the work I was doing at Winrock as well as my personal goals for the future. We were able to connect over our shared connection with RAINN- a network that provides support for sexual assault survivors, and who previously provided training to me as a sexual assault advocate. She invited me to join biweekly meetings with the team to learn about different projects Winrock is working on, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn about other projects from around the world, including child labor projects in Asia as well as ATLAS, a Winrock partnership with Lawyers Without Borders and funded by the US Department of Labor to combat world-wide child labor and trafficking.
As I’ve delved deeper into my research for the Jamaica CPC project, prepared products to use during interviews, and actually started interviewing individuals in the tourism sector in Jamaica, I can honestly say it wouldn't have been possible without the help and interactions of the Jamaica field team. In Jamaica, business is done face-to-face or at least over the phone rather than directly via email whenever possible, which can be challenging when you’re not in the same country. Because the COVID-19 situation in Jamaica has limited face-to-face interactions and many people are still working remotely, this project wouldn't have been possible without the help of my in-country colleagues calling people locally or helping me work with technology kinks as I interview people remotely.
As I’ve slowly had more one-on-one interactions with the team in Jamaica as well as the individuals I’m interviewing, I’ve come to see the Jamaican people as open, warm, friendly, impeccably polite, and very direct. I’m also unfailingly awed by the resilience of the Jamaican people as they come up with creative solutions to get around technology gaps caused by COVID-19 work conditions. Often times we work on video calls with our cameras off due to the lack of internet bandwidth/changing conditions, both in Jamaica and sometimes in the states, and I’ve been amazed at what my colleagues can do with just their phones when required! They’ve opened my eyes to a different way of life in the Caribbean, and my stomach to try new things. I was recently inspired to try a Jamaican restaurant near where I live, and while I’ve yet to compare notes with my colleagues on their views of the authenticity of what I tried, the chicken patties and oxtail were quite good!
I look forward to the coming weeks of work on the project, and to continuing work with my team.