After excitedly planning this trip for two years, as the day of departure grew nearer both myself and classmates began to get cold feet, overthinking it for one reason or another (notably the price). However, from the moment we landed I knew I made the right choice. The country (especially Manchester where we stayed) was hands down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, from the breathtaking green landscapes, to the extremely hospitable Jamaican people, from whom I feel we all can learn a lot from in how to live a happy life. Omar and JVE have seemingly perfected how to enfuse cultural immersion, meaningful service, and fun into one trip. After a different traditional breakfast, we worked at the school for the day, dividing ourselves up between helping in the classroom or teaching the primary children baseball, with volunteers freely circulating as they wish to. After school we visited the nearby boys home, playing games (including football, basketball, and dominos) with the 50 some boys there. In my humble opinion this was by far the highlight of the trip, as many of the boys were too in highschool, and shared interests with all of us from back home in the states. At night we came home and had a large traditional Jamaican meal and by 830 we were given the rest of the night to enjoy the 30 acre property as we pleased.
During our engages with the Jamaican people, the phrase “one people, one family” truly set in, as the way people live and interact with another is almost as if it was the same as from the states, only in a different enviroment. It was through this experience that my aspirations of becoming an enviromental engineer were reaffirmed, and I hope to rectory soon. We may have made much progress during our weeklong stay, but there still remains much work to be done to help this amazing country continue to develop into what it can be.
Getting to experience “Jamaican time” and the thrill of driving around in the mountains itself was worth it. Throw in the lasting impact made upon both myself and those I helped, and it’s clear that every penny was well spent. I am embarrassed to have ever hesitated in the first place about going, so please don’t make the same mistake I did, and if you ever have an opportunity to travel with JVE, jump on it ASAP!!
What would you improve about this program?
While the last couple of nights are spent out and about in the city and jam packed, for the duration of the actual service most nights were spent back at the homestead eating dInner and interacting with each other. By spending another one or two nights out on the town further immersing into this vibrant culture, the overall experience would be that much more exciting, and culturally educational, seeing how the things we learned from the staff actually are applied in real Jamaican towns and squares.