Alternative Breaks – Jamaica

Hi everyone! I’m sorry I have not been active on our blog lately. The past couple of months have been full of both personal and professional adventures and it’s about time that I share some of them with you all! Let’s start with Spring Break…

One month ago today, was our group’s first full day in Treasure Beach, Jamaica for Elon Alternative Breaks – it was a challenging, fun, exploratory, and fulfilling experience for all involved.

For over nine years, Elon has partnered with VIJON for a Rural Education and Poverty service trip. Each year looks a little bit different, and this spring we were paired with Sandy Bank Primary School to help teach grades 1 to 6, in a variety of subjects, during one week.

The week that we spent at the school was sandwiched by two opportunities to discover and enjoy Jamaican lifestyle and culture outside of the classroom. Following orientation, we spent our first full day on Treasure Beach and at Frenchman’s Reef. The students had a stressful week of midterms prior to the break, so this provided time for everyone to relax and regroup. Throughout the day we were swimming in the ocean, kayaking, catching up on sleep, getting to know one another, engaging in conversation with the locals, and spending time with our community partners at VIJON.

On our first day at Sandy Bank, we were divided in pairs among the classrooms and, depending on the teacher, were guided to do anything from working with students one-on-one and leading small exercises, to teaching a class. While we had been forewarned to get a good night’s sleep the night before our first day at Sandy Bank, we could not have predicted the amount of energy we would be met with from the children at the school. Between teaching, playing during recess, learning the names of all of the students, and doing our best to understand patois, we were all exhausted at the end of each day. Nonetheless, we made time for reflections, a Jamaican dance class, designing and carving our own calabash bowls, an outdoor movie night, and simply taking everything in.

Learner is one of my top strengths, and I was thriving throughout the trip with learning taking place at every turn. I learned a great deal from my co-advisor and Elon students, our Jamaican friends, the children at Sandy Bank, and also from the way of life. My cell phone was turned off for the entire week and I cherished being able to be present in each moment throughout the trip. I felt more active in conversations, more thoughtful about all of the different experiences, and was not distracted by the little things. One of my favorite memories is learning how to make a Jamaican stew from scratch. There was no computer open with a recipe to follow. Instead, there was a garden with fresh vegetables, flour to make noodles, and many hands to make the meal happen.

With my passion for International Education, I was honored and absolutely thrilled to serve as a co-adviser to such a driven and talented group of Elon students while experiencing, first-hand, the public school system in Jamaica. Our student group was composed of all different majors from psychology and education, to communications and marketing, and they all took on the teaching role with creativity and positive energy – they were great educators.

Our final day in Jamaica was full of beautiful views, delicious food, and outdoor excursions. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

 

All in all, I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in this experience and it will stay with me for many years to come.

As we learned to say in Jamaica before leaving for the airport…

One love.

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