Spring Break. Most people spend it relaxing with family or hanging out with friends at home or in tropical locations. This year, my spring break was spent in Jamaica. No, I was not on vacation with my friends. I was volunteering with the schools all over the St. Elizabeth Parish with the Jamaican Field Service Project.
The Jamaican Field Service Project is an ongoing service learning program accredited by the State University of New York, which is open to students from participating universities across the US and Canada. The JAFSP brings school supplies, tutors, musical instruments and instruction to the schools of Jamaica five times yearly, with the support of the Rotary, Peace Corp, and the Claudia Williams HIV Education Center of Jamaica. Trips also include music-therapy and community health students who do volunteer work in the area care centers, all under the supervision of our accredited supervisors and professors.
For ten days, I taught students from the ages of 3 to 12 singing, drumming, and guitar. For almost all of these students, this was their first time ever being exposed to music in school. Along with music, we worked on the students with reading and writing. Besides teaching, I also was in Jamaica to Study Abroad, experiencing the traditional music of the Jamaica, with a strong emphasis on the Afro-Caribbean drumming, dancing, and singing that is such a large part of life in the West Indies.
With part of the Rotary and Peace Corps, we got to experience the "Real Jamaica". Some of the students we taught could barely afford to go to school. In the Jamaican School System, students pay for transportation to and from school, tuition, books, food, and uniforms. Being able to go to school is a privilege for a lot of the students. Besides being in the schools, we went hiking (a seven mile hike, through the rain forest and the black sand beaches in Jamaica).
Being a part of the JAFSP over my Spring Break changed my life. The students I taught with completely made me realize how much I truly have and how lucky I am to go to such an amazing school like Indiana University. I experienced the "Real Jamaica" and can not wait to go back again.
The Jamaica Field Service Project is open to university students of all majors, who may participate for university credit. For more information on the program and 2013 trips, visit http://www.jafieldservice.com.
Until Next Time,