Alumni Spotlight: Allison Gengler

Allison Gengler is from St. Paul, Minnesota she is currently a freshman at the University of St. Thomas studying business. She has a passion for volunteering, and a fascination with learning about other cultures.

Allison Gengler - Volunteer in Jamaica

Highlights: The highlight of my trip was working with all the kids you can learn so much from an elementary aged child. They will tell you their favorite things about Jamaica what they know about America, what music they like. The kids had so much energy and we always knew they were going to bring a smile to our face everyday, It was the hardest part of the trip leaving those smiling kids faces after you had built relationships with them.

Morning: A typical morning in Jamaica was beautiful we would wake up at around 6:50, just early enough to run out of our rooms to catch the breath taking sunrise come out from behind the mountains. After watching this we would run back to our rooms get ready real quick and head down for a delicious breakfast. Our breakfasts consisted of fresh fruit, porridge and sometimes fish! You may think fish for breakfast is a little bit strange but once you're there you just embrace it and it tastes great.

After breakfast we loaded up in the van and headed to our work site. My favorite place we worked was at a Primary School, we arrived there and the kids would flock to us yelling our names and want us to walk with them to there class. In the group I traveled with their was 12 of us so we each got assigned our own classroom, I was with a vibrant and full of energy second grade class. I helped the students with homework and answered all of there out of the box questions about America! I taught them about seasons and about the differences in the culture, for example, how americans treat pets and animals compared to Jamaicans. They thought it was so fascinating. I taught them all day until school got out at 2:30.

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Afternoon: At 2:30 we left when the kids left and we headed over to S.O.S. children's village an orphanage fairly close to the school, when we arrived again we were created by tons of bright smiling faces, these kids were so happy even with their current situation. We played soccer, danced, talked, and just spent time with all these awesome kids. We were able to make some great connections that we will never forget. We stayed at S.O.S. till around 5:30 then we headed back home to Smokey Manor for the night!

Evening: A typical evening in Jamaica was relaxing, we had very tiring days so it was very nice to get back to the manor and rest. We would arrive back and eat a scrumptious authentic Jamaican dinner and just hang out. The family we were staying with had two sons in their twenties so we were able to ask other people similar in age to us different cultural questions we would think of throughout our days work. We would also spend time as a group reflecting on the days work, and planning games and activities for the next day with the kids. We went to bed early most of the time, because we knew the kids expected us to be ready to go and full of energy and we wanted to deliver that!