The 22nd Winter Olympics got started Friday in Sochi, Russia, the first Olympics held in the Russian Federation since the breakup of the USSR in 1991. During the games, there will be 98 events in 15 different winter sports, with 12 new competitions, including: biathlon mixed relay, women’s ski jumping, mixed-team figure skating, mixed-team luge, half-pipe skiing, ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard parallel slalom.
While in Jamaica on an Amizade Global Service-Learning program with John Carroll University, we had the privilege of visiting schools and witnessing firsthand the triumphs and trials of the education system. There is no way to describe the range of emotions and observations I experienced in my short yet eye-opening ten hours I spent with the students but it is safe to say that my experience in these schools rekindled my passion for education and social justice that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
The anticipation was overflowing into the cabin of the airplane. I looked around and took note of where the nine young women on my trip were sitting. As if the expressions on their faces weren’t telling enough, I could just feel their excitement surfacing, as Jamaica came into focus through the tiny windows.
And now I’m off – on a another plane this time across the Caribbean, to the familiar town of Petersfield, Jamaica. Having visited Petersfield for 5 days this previous May, it felt strangely like going home as we drove across the country from Kingston to the western parish of Westmoreland.
We are so proud of our partnership in Petersfield and of the great work done by our site director in Jamaica, Matthias Brown. We are not the only ones recognizing the great work of Mr. Brown and the AOC, in August, the AOC was recognized for their great work with the prestigious Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance! This is the second time the AOC has received this honor. Mr. Brown was also recognized for his outstanding contributions to nation building through service this October with the Badge of Honor for Meritorious Service. Congratulations to Mr. Brown, the AOC, and the community of Petersfield!
As this trip comes to a close, I would like to take some time to share with all of you what I have learned from this amazing experience. I have done a lot in the little time that I had here in Jamaica. From jumping off of a forty foot cliff into a seemingly bottomless ocean to living with four of the greatest kids I could ever meet. But only one of those reasons was why I came here, the people.
Hi all! Yesterday we experienced our second full day of the AOC Summer Camp and we’re all starting to get into the swing of things. We love the kids here so much and they never fail to welcome us as soon as we arrive for the day. There are three groups of kids separated into kiddies, juniors, and seniors so we’ve all been experiencing each group as much as we can and they’re all very happy to have us. For part of the day they have a lesson and complete school work based upon the lesson, then we break for lunch which usually consists of delicious curry chicken and rice, and the rest of the day is fun and games.
Bring on the paint! 13 of us IUP students plus Galloway’s teachers and other community members split up between two classrooms to start painting the walls with fresh yellowish/cream paint. As we were dipping our paint brushes into the buckets of paint and splattering the walls and ourselves we realized how hard we were all working as a group, counting on one another for help.
Today is day three in Jamaica. I’m in love. We arrived at the airport in Montego Bay and were greeted by Mr. Brown and his entourage. Going through customs and retrieving our luggage went smoothly. It wasn’t until we stepped outside of the airport that it truly felt like we were in Jamaica. I’d call it ‘organized chaos.’ “Taxis” (aka beat up cars) were zipping through to pick people up, blasting their reggae music.
One of the many sites Amizade volunteers visit in Petersfield, Jamaica is Roaring River Park – home to beautiful scenery and swimming holes, rich in culture and history, and the site of world-renowned limestone caverns.