Monday, June 6, 2016

My Experiences In Jamaica!

I have been fortunate enough to visit other countries around the world that have many similarities to Jamaica, but I have not had any experiences that have even come close to what I've seen here. When first arriving to the country 5 days ago, my immediate connection that I made was that Jamaica's country side was very similar to what I have seen from being in Dominican Republic so many times; just that everything here is in English and that they drive on the opposite side of the road. Jamaica is such a beautiful country, there are so many colors on the buildings and colors of the plants that are around the roads that it just makes me stair with awe. I've probably given myself so many headaches from constantly looking all around me on different sides of the bus just because I want to be able to see the uniqueness of the country. 
Throughout this trip, we have been blessed with a number of surprises that have made this different for everyone who is with us. Of course we have taken the time to explore the Jamaican culture and have some fun experiences while being here, but one shock that really hit me was when we went to Sunday mass. From attending the mass, it is evident to see that religion is a big part in the Jamaican culture, and it is a way in which defines the Jamaican people in my opinion. We were extremely welcomed and embraced by all those who were in the church, and it provided me with a sense of welcomeness . From that day on, every place we have traveled to, there has been a uniform sensation of hospitality and acceptance from all those we have encountered. Whether it was with the day laborers and students at Pedro Planes, or the principal of St. Mary's, or even Miss Winnie and her staff at Tiano Cove, everyone we meet has been so warm with their embrace and it is just a difference from what we generally experience back at home. 
Another experience that is truly an honor is being able to work side by side with day laborers as equals. As a group we have had multiple discussions about the difference between helping, fixing, and serving. The definition of service that we have all come to the consensus of agreeing upon was that "service is a relationship between equals." That was the exact experience that I was able to have being out on the first worksite. One of my goals for the trip was to do cement work and when I say that it would be a possibility I went right to it. The day laborers were very welcoming and they did not treat me any different because I was a girl. They let me get my hands dirty and they let me do my own thing to get the work completed which was just a really gratifying experience. With the cement work, I helped build a wall off bricks and also put cement inside cracks along side the net ball court. 
Finally the last experience I want to talk about ties into something that we as a group spoke about in group discussion tonight, and that is about privilege. Thanks to everyone who supported me and believed in me, I have received the privilege to even be in Jamaica to provide services to these schools who need them. Secondly, the privileges I have in life have given me the knowledge and ability to pass along information and assistance to those who are less fortunate then I in order to ignite  passion into them. For example, the group took a drive up to St. Mary's Primary School where we met with the principle to help brainstorm some ideas for ways to improve the schools current condition. As engineers, the privileges we have received from our education has allowed us to collaboratively formulate ideas to improve the schools condition in order to provide the students who attend the school with the opportunity to receive a better education for their future. Not only from this example, but the projects that we have been working on also provide that same opportunity for these children to excel in their education.
It is crazy that we only have two more days of working left. We will be working at a project at Church Hill next, and I'm sure there will be a number of new and exciting experiences that will continue to make this trip a blessing. 
-Melanie Caba

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