“It is so different here from Germany” remarked Teaching Internship volunteer Swantje Krebbs. She has been working at the Villa Road Primary school as a part of her internship requirements for university. An education enthusiast, she loves children and is keen on their academic development. Having worked with both kindergarten and teenagers she finds it easy to relate to the diverse age groups of children with whom she comes in contact at her placement.
Quite endearing, the 20 year old teacher in training loves to see results in the performance of the children. One of her most pleasant experiences and an indicator of her hard work was the high test score of a boy with whom she worked for weeks. She indicated that there were a few major cultural differences. The major ones being the large class sizes and the special education needs of the children based on age and grade level. She has been providing individual tutoring at her placement for children who are slow learners or who need special attention based on the assigned class work.
She enjoys the high spirits of the children and the care they sometimes show for each other. She has learnt to be more patient and understanding as a result of her experience with children in Jamaican classrooms and has a greater appreciation for the small class sizes and structure that exists in Germany. She is eager to complete her studies and realize her dream to be in the classroom fulltime. She is completing four months in Jamaica, two months on the Teaching Project and two months on the Care Project. She is just as excited to start the care project and looks forward to the diverse levels of interaction which she will have with the children at the orphanage. Thank you Swantje for tutoring the children at the Villa Road Primary school. Your efforts have been yielding incredible success.
Twenty One year old Sara Linder’s desire to learn about a completely different culture and way of living as well as encouragement from a friend who volunteered with Projects Abroad were the reasons that propelled her to volunteer with projects Abroad in Jamaica.
The young Swiss volunteered as a teaching volunteer at the McIntosh Memorial Primary school. Sara highlighted that it’s a good teaching placement for volunteers to gain experience and concretize their decision whether or not to enter the teaching career. She also mentioned that volunteers make so much difference at the placement because they get the chance to assist the teachers who are overburdened with large class size and limited resources.
Her tasks included group and individual tutoring, substituting for teachers in their absence, which she enjoyed, supervising students during devotional exercises, recess and bathroom breaks, creating learning aides such as charts and flash cards, assisting remedial students and teaching classes.
Her volunteering experience taught her to appreciate cultural differences, how to be creative and innovative with limited resources to get the lesson across. As she noted the difference, Sara said that “although the class size in Jamaica goes up to 40 students they are more motivated to learn than students back in her home country.” She added that “although the classes are large, noisy and the classrooms are sometimes messy [because the students eat in the classrooms] and although the students talk a lot to each other, they still do their work.” She said she found that interesting because it shows her that no matter what your situation or limitations you can learn if you are determined to.
She advises prospective volunteers to be open-minded, take initiative – don’t wait around for teachers to give you something to do but find something to do and be creative with lessons an think outside the box. Sara noted her most memorable experience to be on the school’s celebration of Jamaica Day when a student she had never interacted came up to her, hugged her tightly and stayed with her the entire day. She said it was memorable because it was evident that the child needed attention and she was glad she could have touched the child’s life that way.
Most people shy away from challenges, but 22 year old Patrick Warnke embraces challenges with pleasure. He decided he wanted to volunteer on the Care Project in Jamaica because he wanted to help children, and not just any children but those with special learning needs. At his placement with the Learning Centre he provides diligent individual tutoring in mathematics, spelling, reading and phonics. Outside of the classroom setting he teaches physical education and trains the children for Sports Day.
Patrick is most personable, a quality which helps him to effortlessly get the cooperation of the children and by extension command their respect. The children love him and equally too the placement staff and supervisor. “He is so great with the children. He gets results in children that we have never been able to get” remarked his placement supervisor.
The children enjoy having him around and daily they seek his approval and love. On any given day at work one can hear multiple children affectionately calling him “Uncle Patrick”, “Uncle Patrick.” He has observed that there are limited resources which makes his job even more challenging. He uses rhymes, singing and colours to get the children to learn and recall what he has taught them. He understands well the different learning styles of each of the children with whom he works and so he uses audio, visual and kinaesthetic methodologies to teach various lessons.
He loves sports and so was happy to independently develop a Physical Education programme for the children. He teaches them about their health and engages them in diverse outdoor fitness and fun activities. Patrick is multi-talented and wants to see the children progress in all aspects of their development. His appreciation for the small things in life has deepened and he has learnt that real happiness comes from being content despite the circumstances, a constant reminder when he looks on the face of a child he works with.
Patrick has been outstanding not just in his efforts but in the academic performances he has been able to yield from the children. He will always be loved and remembered by the staff who are very sad that he will be leaving soon. They are thankful for his work and wish him the best in completing his Economics Degree in Germany.
The September Born American chose to come to Jamaica because she wanted to help children and experience a culture that she has never experienced before. “I really like trying new things” she says. She loves art, loves to teach games and wanted to work with children.
Marianne is a born leader. She effectively guides and directs activities at her placement in Montego Bay, a quality which enabled her to be the 2012 Utah ambassador in the HOBY (Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership) World Leadership Congress. The work she does is leadership skills based on serving communities and reaching out to people around the world.
She is a people lover. “I just like spending time with people, making them smile, and having conversations. I love relating to people from a different part of the world”. She loves working with young people because she can relate to them. She is happy to be a role model for really young children.
The placements are very happy for the many books, crayons, toys, games, pens, pencils, rules, sticker and other diverse teaching and learning tools that Marianne donated. Projects Abroad Jamaica is very happy and thankful for this wonderful donation from a kind, enthusiastic and caring volunteer.
Pablo and Verena were the first two volunteers to arrive in Jamaica in April 2013. Pablo, the dread sporting energetic volunteer had his orientation on April 02, 2013 and cannot wait to start his Patois classes. He is very much in love with the sub cultures of Jamaica and is keen on been fully immersed in the many dimensions of the little island.
Pablo will complete his language course in Patois before joining the Maroon Project in Accompong St. Elizabeth. He cannot believe that he is really in Jamaica. It has been his dream for a long time and now he is just soaking it all in. He feels very blessed and privileged to be in this position.
Verena will stay for 3 months and will do both the Sports and Care Projects. She has fitness training and experience and has chosen the sports project because it is dear to her heart. A warm and soft spoken volunteer, Verena is helpful and upbeat. She immediately offered her help on her orientation day at the Teaching project Easter camp where she will work for the next three days before joining the Bethabara Primary and Junior High School.
Verena is excited about tasting her first mango. She loves fruits and feels special to be in a country where fruits in general but mango in particular is in abundance. She loves babies and has identified a few who she said she would love to take back home with her. The big wide smile that comes across her face as she expresses her feelings is but a reminder that babies bring real joy to many. She looks forward to the adventure that awaits her in Jamaica and is excited to share her story with family and friends.
Let the Journey begin for this dynamic duo...
Esther Smit came to Jamaica because she was told that helping others in a foreign country is one thing everyone should do once in their lifetime. She carefully planned her trip to Jamaica with her very close girlfriend but had to make the trip alone after her friend became ill. She was told about Projects Abroad by former Care Project volunteer Marianne van Rijn who shared her great experience in Jamaica with her.
She has been having a wonderful time working at the Percy Junior hospital observing and helping with deliveries and surgeries, among other things but loves the Out Patient Department (OPD) very much. There she has helped with patient intake which is one of her core functions back in the Netherlands. Here in Jamaica she is particularly interested in the medical education of patients as she feels their knowledge is lacking concerning critical illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. She has begun to teach patients with whom she comes in contact certain lifestyle choices that would make a difference not just in their longevity but the quality of life that they lead.
She is so passionate about this that, if time permits, she would love to return in 6 months to conduct a wide educational training for both nurses and patients. She feels that the nurses at the hospital work very hard but have limited resources with which to execute their responsibilities. It was this observation that drove her to make the whopping $314,000 Jamaican Dollar donation to the hospital which was used to purchase multi sample pipettes, adult scale, foetal doppler, nebulizers, gluco meters, thermometers, safe light, kettle, bath among many other things including office chairs and computer systems.
She said the donation was a small amount to her but soon realized, after understanding the economic climate of Jamaica, why the hospital and Projects Abroad Jamaica was so impressed with and grateful for this huge contribution. She has noted, with clear appreciation for the operations in medical facilities in the Netherlands, the major cultural differences where medical approach, resource availability and patient compliance are concerned. She is happy to have been able to help in Jamaica and will always remember her experience at the Hospital.
The Projects Abroad Teaching Camp started with a bang on Tuesday April 02, 2013 at 9:00am. The camp which is being held the second time has teaching volunteers engaged in activities with community children. The camp was implemented to creatively utilize the skills of teaching volunteers to meet the social, physical, educational and spiritual needs of children who are on the Easter break and who would not have been reached otherwise.
On the first day volunteers learnt about the children, taught them about themselves and their respective cultures and got them in the mode for learning and interacting with fun getting to know you games. This is the beginning of an inspirational and life-changing 4 days. The children were well behaved and listened to the instructions of the volunteers. Both volunteers and children are very happy to be at the camp. Collette Kerr, the Project Officer for the teaching project did an excellent job organizing and planning the camp. This was reflected in the seamless flow of events and the adherence to the structured schedule that was created. We cannot wait to get into the activities and hear from the children about their camp experience.
So far my time in Jamaica has been dreamy. When I arrived here I was welcomed immediately by my host family. Within five minutes, the three girls I am living with had helped me unpack, and told me that I was going to be their big sister. Having never had younger sisters, it was a treat to be this idolised.
On my first evening my two neighbours came to pick me up and we shared a taxi to the Wednesday night hotspot in Mandeville. Once there I had to pinch myself before accepting I was finally in Jamaica, a land where the trees are really green and the people smile, despite any injustices they may have experienced.
On my first day of work, I had my first experience of the morning taxi services in Mandeville, Jamaica. The cars drive around the whole district, if one wears a red number plate, you can be sure it is a cab. They stop on the side of the road, and you jump into the five seater vehicle, which is normally holding more than five people. On my first journey I shared my ride with six other people. As we bobbed along to some nice reggae music, I took in my lush green surroundings and realised how lucky I was to be living in this dream setting.
On my weekend trip to Ochos Rios, 5 other volunteers and I took a trail of taxis until we reached the pretty beachside town of Ochos Rios. Although the weather was not spectacular, I had an amazing time. We went and visited 9 mile, which is Bob Marley’s place of birth and place of rest. For me, this was a dream come true. I felt very lucky to be able to see this, as not only is Bob Marley my king, but he is King to a lot of the habitants here in Jamaica.
Ochos Rios also had an amazing market of arts and crafts, and other clothes and jewellery. I was overwhelmed by Bob Marley memorabilia. There were colours everywhere. I went with my money for the weekend, and left with near to nothing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Jamaicans are good at selling!
“Kick him dung!” “Change the ref!!” “Pass the ball!!” “Foul!!” These were shouts to be heard coming from Ridgemount Church Hall on Tuesday, March 19, 2013: local staff and volunteers having some good ole fun! Our Potluck & Games evening started off with a vibrant game of “football” with our spectators shouting advice alternately at their “Team” and together screaming for “Goal!!” at the appropriate time. This warm up activity was followed by “Bat and Ball”, the Jamaican version of baseball with Team Luuk versus Team Kaspar. Interspersed with lots of running, yelling, falling and screaming, staff and volunteers teamed up and had a superb time. As the home runs increased the excitement soared and Team Luuk eventually won this game. Dandy Shandy was next on the agenda, testing the agility and flexibility of the participants as we tried our utmost to avoid the fat “scandal bag” ball which was being thrown at us. “One, Two, Three, Red Light!” or the equivalent of in “Sonne, Mond und Sterne!” German as was leant from Sara, really tested the participant’s speed, agility and balance.
We then paused for the cultural exchange section where volunteers were asked to share a game from their home country with the group. Lisa, from Germany, introduced us to “Ha, Ha, Hoo!!” a game which sounded technical at first but soon had us all in giggles.
We ended the Games section with a medley of relays: Potato race, Sack race and Math race. The competition was high and our flexibility skills were again tested as tall persons, fat persons, short persons and slim persons each tried to fit into the same size sack for the second and third legs of the relay. Team Kaspar won this event and the celebration was magnificent.
It was now food time and we all headed to the courtyard where volunteers and staff feasted on Jamaican goodies. It was a well spent afternoon, filled with cultural bonding and exchanges which will never be forgotten!! “Goal!”
"Irie." Everything is good and beautiful. From the moment I set foot in Jamaica, this phrase was instilled in my mind and my heart. Since coming to this country, I have found beauty in everything and it has helped me to grow significantly in such a short period of time.
Being a volunteer at the Hillcrest Daycare & Prep was such an amazing experience. As a senior Elementary Education major in the United States, getting to witness another culture and their schooling was such a blessing. It was a huge benefit to be able to integrate myself and my previous knowledge into the school and help in any way that I could. I loved meeting the staff and teachers at Hillcrest, as well as my supervisors at Projects Abroad.
Everyone that I was lucky enough to come across or meet in Jamaica instantly became family to me. This culture has a way of looking out for each other that seems so selfless and easy, I wish I saw it more often in the States. From my host family to my cab drivers, I created friendships and bonds that I could not possibly ever forget. I made likewise bonds with the other volunteers at my host family. We only just met this week, but like my host mom said, "If you saw us all out on the street you'd think we've known each other since kindergarten."
Projects Abroad has presented me with such an amazing and life changing experience. I feel so blessed to have gotten to indulge so much in the Jamaican culture. Taking in everything around me, I have learned more about one country, one people, and myself in one week than I had in years at home. This place feels like a home to me now, and I would not change a minute of this experience for the world.
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