On the first day of my internship at Amizade, Brandon asked the newly arrived interns if we wanted to go to Jamaica for a special event. I did not hesitate to accept the offer. The next day we were purchasing tickets to fly to Montego Bay. They called us the “Miracle Babies.” Let me explain the special reason for this event. On May 16, the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen visited the community of Petersfield, Jamaica for the first time in 50 years. Every member of the community was talking about it; everyone was excited, nervous, and anxious for his visit, including myself. We- three brand new interns, Aaron, Grace and I- were given a small project to complete before his arrival.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon and were received with a feast. Not only was a special occasion because of our arrival, but it was Mother’s Day as well. We gathered around, introduced ourselves to the members of the Association of Clubs (AOC) and enjoyed a delicious traditional Jamaican dinner. We were very well received; I immediately knew this would be a trip to remember. After taking a short nap, Grace and I accompanied our host mother to church for a concert for mother’s day. Lots of singing, dancing, laughing, clapping, even cake and ice cream. Jamaicans really know how to celebrate mother’s day.
Monday and Tuesday were work days. Woke up at 7:30am, arrived at the park around 8:30am. By 9am we were in full force painting, scrubbing, cleaning, and repainting. At first I was a little bit discourage because I felt there was so much to do in so little time, I thought were weren’t going to finish on time. But we worked hard, and the members of the community helped a lot too. The heat was intense, which made it more exhausting. However, after a hard day of work, we went to the beach one day and to the Roaring River the next. It was so rewarding to take these breaks after hard work. It was even more rewarding when the Governor General (GG) complemented us for our work at the park.
It was so inspiring to see everyone working so hard for this once in life time occasion. The Governor General came to Petersfield and saw with his own eyes the hard work the AOC has done for the past 27 years. Since their formation, members of the AOC have met every Thursday night to come up with innovative ideas on how to improve their community. I greatly admire their sense of dedication, determination, and diligent work, and I know the GG was impressed with them too.
10 of those 27 years, Amizade has had a partnership with AOC. We were able to explain to the GG a little bit about Amizade and the successful partnership we have with them. He seemed very impressed with the amount of students that come to Petersfield for volunteer work (and also for some fun). And it was very important that he heard and saw it from actual volunteers and not just through pictures. The fact that we were there for his visit meant a lot for the AOC because Village Tourism is one of their greatest accomplishments.
Words could not express the meaning of the Governor General’s visit. For most of the residents in Petersfield, it was a dream come true. I am extremely grateful to have been part of such important occasion. This unexpected trip has been one of the best I have had in my life. Hopefully, I will go back someday, because I know I will be received with arms wide open.
-Cassandra Chaire, Amizade Intern