It is hard to believe that almost one week has passed since our entire group joined together for the first time in front of Howe. I'm currently sitting at the dinner table of the Whistling Bird, listening to new friends chat about nothing important in particular, watching the remnants of our bonfire blaze into the evening, and smiling to myself because I know I could not have asked for a better week.
As a blogger scheduled to write towards the latter end of the week, I guess it might be expected of me to share my "watershed" moment, or that particular instance during the week that summarized my entire experience. Although I like to get to the point, I don't think I can pinpoint one moment that can truly sum up my experience. This week was filled with laughter, with sweat (A LOT OF IT), with thought-provoking discussion, and with warmth. It was characterized by the zinc that lined the roof of the dining pavilion at Church Hill primary school and the green paint that now lies atop the newly finished netball court at Pedro Plains. With a week packed to the very top with memories, it is impossible for me to remain terse when talking about a pinnacle moment.
So instead of remaining to the point, I want to challenge myself to be vocal, loud, and excited about my experiences when I get back to the United States and Stevens campus. As a first-time GSI-er last year, I talked about the trip to my close friends, to my family, and to co-workers who wondered where the hell I got so much sunburn from. This time is different. It is my responsibility to go home and to encourage others to come to Jamaica with this program. Or, if not Jamaica, read about the Carribean. Read about the history of racism, read about Chiquita, read about WHY it is so hard to find more than 5 gallons of a particular paint at any hardware store in a particular part of Jamaica. I was (and am) privileged enough to travel to Jamaica with this outstanding group of individuals, and now it is time for me to share my knowledge with the world, however small my "world" may be.
If there is something to talk about more in depth, it would definitely be about the incredible group of people I served with over the week. It is funny how I don't even recall seeing some of my fellow GSI-ers on campus over the past two years, and now, I think I've gained several new friends! To Andrew (Dad), Popper, Monica, J-Pluymers, Cristian, Caroline, Allie, Jane (Keeper of the Keys), Ryan Cole & Tocci, Kelly, Zach, Julia, Corinne, Melanie, Thea, and Momma Kaye, you are what makes this trip what it is. Not only have we slathered countless ounces of suntan lotion on each other and ensured that we were all staying hydrated in the hot Jamaican sun, but we have also shared our privileges, repainted a beautiful school in Negril, and released our hopes for the future into the sky on small paper lanterns with each other. It has been an honor and a privilege getting to know you more on a personal level. We put in an enormous amount of work between the two school sites this past week, and it is due solely to all of our eagerness, excitement, and enthusiasm (how bout THAT alliteration).
I would be remiss if I did not make a small shout out to Thea and Momma Kaye. Thea, thank you for picking a wonderful cohort this year. You have such a knack for these kinds of things, and there is no other individual I'd rather have as a leader than you. Momma Kaye--your willingness and readiness to serve your friends in Jamaica is inspiring. I hope I find my passion just as you have found yours here in Jamaica.
Last but not least, thank you to Jamaica. You are a beautiful country filled with hospitality and an unwavering spirit. You have had your fair share of struggles over the years, but you continue to remain. I will be back to serve you just as you have served me.