When I was choosing a destination to travel to with Projects Abroad, Jamaica definitely stood out for me. I heard that the beaches were magical, the people were carefree and effervescent and the culture was unlike any other. It is safe to say that all my expectations were met and certainly expected. Even as I boarded my connecting flight from Miami to Kingston, I got a fine taste of the nature of the islanders. Everyone seemed outspoken yet helpful, loudly commenting on the lack of leg room yet not pausing for a moment when they saw me struggling with my luggage to help me lift it into the compartments above the seats.
Although my ride to Mandeville was at 11pm and the seemingly endless highways were lit only by the headlights of the vehicle I was travelling in. I saw on the beaches on my way out of Kingston and they did not disappoint me nor leave me satisfied- I wanted to see more. Upon arrival to ‘Jamrock’ I was greeted by friendly staff who accompanied me to my host family, where they were waiting for me at the estate-like house.
There were eight other girls at the house, who were also doing the two weeks high school special. We immediately connected and gushed about our excitement to meet the children at our placement- Our Lady of Hope Child Care Facility, the next day. That night we all went to sleep anxious and eager, and found it very hard to contain these emotions and very hard to sleep. The lack of sleep was well worth it, for upon arrival at the orphanage, a mob of about thirty children began to teach us hand games and giggle about our silly accents. No one in our group had a free hand to do anything that day, for there were always two or three children fighting for even just one of our hands to hold.
For the duration of the three weeks that we were there we got to know the kids very well, the excitement in both the volunteers eyes never seemed to dwindle. We were always eager to learn new things and they were always eager to teach us and vice versa. The last day of their two week camp, which consisted of dance and drama, sports and arts & crafts was the most heart-wrenching of them all. Not a single volunteer’s eyes were dry upon departure from the Orphanage.
While all of us volunteers will agree that the weekdays were the best, the weekends were not bad either. We went to two beaches, one in Ocho Rios and one which was much more local, seeing how Ocho Rios is a popular tourist destination. Both were lovely and did not keep anyone, even my friend who did not know how to swim, out of the water.
My trip to Jamaica is truly one that I will remember all my life, and those children’s bright faces and welcoming voices will be in my head forever. I felt that the two weeks special gave us a great taste of Jamaica, but I need more of this gorgeous land, which is why I’ve already started saving for the month I plan to spend in Jamaica with Projects Abroad next summer. The friends I made will last a lifetime and the memories will last longer.
Ellen First from left.
Jamaica sounded like a really good plan. On one hand I was looking forward to visiting the relaxed Mandeville October 21 2010
At first I wanted to go to South Africa with Projects Abroad, but my parents didn’t really like that idea. So I checked the website for more options. Luckily I did, because otherwise I never would have discovered Jamaica.
, sunny reggae holiday island to experience that aspect of the country. However, on the other hand I was looking forward to making myself useful to help people who are really in need.
Now my two months as a Care volunteer are unfortunately almost over, I’m really happy that I (well, after biting through my parents) chose to come to Jamaica. It is an amazing island. But you also see that your help as a volunteer is more than welcome, as there are areas that are drastically in need of improvements.
I’m lucky to have seen, heard, tasted and even felt all that makes Jamaica a beautiful place. But I’ve also seen less ‘beauty’. There are still many poor people and kids that are in need of extra attention. That bit of extra love you can give is really useful to the children. I’m glad I’ve given the little kids from Windsor Lodge Children’s Home some extra warmth.
I was also was lucky to receive this warmth through: the friendly Jamaican people, the social volunteers, the good staff from Projects Abroad, the hospitable host family, through the staff from Windsor Lodge and through the sweet little children from the child’s home.
It was and is an experience I will never forget. Jamaica, land I love!
I need a mum
I need a dad
I’m sometimes good,
And sometimes bad
My name is Ted,
My father beats me when I go to bed
And that makes me very sad
Mom and Dad
Should never be sad
When a small child
They have had
Hugs and smiles
Commitment and care
A loving parent
Is always there
Don’t be afraid
Being a host family is a wonderful experience. The cultural exchange is the best part, we get the opportunity to learn about each volunteer’s culture and in return we get to teach them about our Jamaican culture.
As a host family it has been a wonderful experience, having welcomed them into my home, they have grown to be like family, I will go as far as saying they are like my sons .When we sit at our dining table for breakfast and dinner it is like we bond as if we were always having meals together, we pray, exchange thoughts, food, culture and all that we plan to do for the day or all that we have already done.
What I admire most about Michael and Alexander is that they are always willing to go to work despite the fact that they are not been paid. The volunteers that I have hosted accept our culture; they love the food and are willing to try them all. I will continue to host volunteers for the single fact that the experience has been great.
Thought you know- you actually have no idea. Here are a few amazing facts about Jamaica that even I had to say, really now, to. Read on see what you can learn- A wealth of knowledge awaits...
· Jamaica is the first Caribbean (English Speaking Caribbean Island) Country to gain Independence
Jamaica is the first team from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify for the Football (Soccer) World Cup. This was the 1998 championship.
The only countries to have won it more than Jamaica is India, Venezuela and the UK, but considering the size of Jamaica, you have to say that this achievement is monumental!
Now my friend, get out and share you new found knowledge of Jamaica
Dirty Day is here again and the vibrant volunteers and staff of Projects Abroad Jamaica gave of their time and care, several hours to help uplift the outdoors of the Kendal All Age School. The School is situated in the parish of Manchester approximately fifteen minutes driving outside of Mandeville. The School caters to approximately 200 students. The principal is Mrs. Hedley.
Today, October 15, 2010 we painted the outside benches, an outside wall and a tank which doubles as a drinking area for the students. The volunteers were excited to be surprising the students with this makeover as they were not aware that the Projects Abroad Team was giving them a fresh look; the students are currently on mid-term break. The Principal remarked that she had a lot of explaining to do next week as the children will definitely want to know who helped to beautify their school.
The volunteers worked in various groups to complete the tasks and did a fantastic job. Many of the volunteers loved the colours that were chosen. The tank was painted in Fruit Punch, a nice bright pinkish colour, the outside wall was painted Pacific Blue and the outside benches were two-toned with Canary Yellow and Pacific Blue. They worked really quickly in completing their tasks.
Lunch time saw the volunteers being treated to Jamaican patties – a favourite among the volunteers and they also chose their favourite juices and drinks as well the popular choices were, Orange Juice, Pepsi and water. The day was deemed a success by everyone. The day ended with the usual clean up of our tools and reorganizing the Dirty Day box. Our taxis later came, picked us up and took us back to the Office and that concludes our Dirty Day synopsis until next time, Tek Care.
Enjoy a different side of Jamaica on your next trip as you explore some of the popular annual food festivals with sumptuous and spicy dishes.
If you are planning a trip to the island of Jamaica in the near future, we are recommending that you try something different on this trip. This island features some of the most fascinating and unique dishes which you will find in the Caribbean and quite a few of them are on display each year at various Jamaica food festivals.
There is the Portland Jerk Festival which is held July each year. This event is very popular as it features predominantly the popular cooking style which is the jerk. Jerk is actually the method of seasoning meat with a blend of spices and herbs before grilling. The most important ingredients for this combination is the hot scotch bonnet peppers and pimento, when the meat is well marinated it would then be grilled above charcoal fire. You can expect a sizzling hot, spicy, tender and juicy flavor at the end, but be careful if you cannot eat spicy food.
When you visit this festival you will notice that any meat that can be jerked would be prepared, so whether you are lover of pork, chicken, fish, lobster, tofu or goat meat, you will get your heart desire along with your favorite accompaniment of breadfruit, festival or white bread. This food festival will also feature performances from some local artistes, dances, art and craft, a merry-go-roun, face painting and a lot of events for everyone.
Next, there is the Trelawny Yam festival in the month of April during the Easter holidays and features an array of dishes made from yam. This event usually provides music, dance, prizes, surprises and other cultural performances.
The Westmoreland Curry Festival is actually another of the leading events when it comes to the Jamaica food festivals. Here, you will find many dishes cooked with this Asian spice and people travel from all over to sample some of these dishes as well. The proceeds from this festival are usually given to a charitable organization and it is held each year at the Manning's Hill School in Savanna-la-mar.
Mandeville and the South Coast is not to be left out as there is an annual Seafood Festival which is held at Little Ochi in Alligator Pond. If you are a seafood lover, this is the place for you, as you can get fish and other seafood cooked in any style that you can think of. In addition to the meal, you will get good entertainment and easy access to enjoy the lovely beach area.
One thing is for sure, you will not be hungry on this trip to Jamaica, as there will be more than enough to eat and drink. While you checking out the different food festivals, this will give you a good chance to visit some of the areas other than the popular tourist spots and you will get to sample even more authentic Jamaica dishes.
The language of popular culture was the theme at the October 12 Patois and Culture Class at Projects Abroad Jamaica, the volunteers were given a lesson on how it was to talk Jamaican based on the latest slangs and phrases; this is Jamaica for you so one can expect it was a lesson indeed. In Jamaica these can change very quickly, all you need is a song or a famous personality starting the word trend and then voila, the entire Jamaica is talking a different language. The tip to the volunteers was to listen to the regular people talk on the streets and keep in tune to the latest Dancehall songs.
Some of the words were ‘Hot Skull’ which generally means a very impetuous individual who is driven to be overactive and very hyper. Also one of the phrases given to the volunteer to handle a ‘Hot Skull’ is to simply, ‘Nuh loud up the ting’ this means to just be calm and easy, mellow and don’t draw attention to something. Happy Earth- Strong; well are you having as much trouble with the meaning as the volunteers were? Well Ingrid a volunteer from Australia guessed correctly and she said Happy Birth Day; only in Jamaica. We went through a number of other phrases and then went into the section where famous personalities make up words that are currently trending. The featured personality was L.A. Lewis, the five- star general or the Graffiti Artiste. This man is a self proclaimed artiste who is popular worldwide and is said to have met the Queen of England and Travelled overseas without a visa, but simply used his driver’s license.
His words are ‘Sabolious’, meaning [according to him] over big, bigger than big. ‘Insaniality’ meaning more than love, so you don’t simply say to your love interests I love you, you now say I am ‘insaniality about you. And the final word is ‘incontestibility’ which means no one to compete or contest.
For the culture section, the volunteers were given an overview on religion in Jamaica. The volunteers were all asked to relate the incidences of religious practices they encountered. Many of them had similar experiences; everyone around them prayed a lot, Chris who is a medical volunteer said that at the hospital, they were healers who walked around healing patients and Evelyn a volunteer from the Netherlands said her second day on the Island was spent in church with her host family. The Social Manger pointed out that many Jamaicans took religion very seriously and kept their Bibles and other religious books close to their heart. It was also mentioned that many Jamaicans would also go to their regular parties, dressed in regal party attire on Saturday and then know that church early Sunday Morning was a priority. Being married to a Pastor or being the child of a Pastor is a very high honour in Jamaican society; Imagine if you are the Pastor himself-How ‘sabolious’
Currently we are dubbed the ‘sprint capital.’ This is no surprise as Jamaica is home to the fastest and third fastest men in the world. In 2008, 21-year old
Usain Bolt proved Jamaica's dominance in the 100 m which isn't his favored event, first running 9.76, becoming second on the all-time list and then on 1 June 2008 he ran 9.72 breaking the 100 m world record held by fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell (9.74 seconds) by two hundredths of a second. This meant that the two fastest men in the world were Jamaicans. Usain Bolt now holds the record for the fastest time in the world with 9.58 seconds.
Athletics in Jamaica really started after the Second World War, and boy, it has come a far way!
Jamaica now gains top rankings in athletics consistently, especially when measured per capita.
In relation to some events (eg.100 and 400m) and individual rankings, Jamaica also leads the pack!
Some say we are just a blessed country, and that is the only reason; others claim it has to be our food, still others theorize that it is just the infrastructure, while others hold firm that it is our sporting culture and competitive Jamaican spirit.
What do I say? All of them!
However, I would point out quickly to you that in terms of infrastructure, we really have nothing compared to many of the other countries that we compete with. It is perhaps the share joy and love of the sport that allows us to reap what we have, from the little that we have.
The seed is sown in the culture, we all love athletics -we love to run! That spirit is evident from even pre-school fun days, Where even the little babies run races!
The major high schools have commendable programs as well that prepares the youth- that is where the 'magic' starts. This training culminates in the Boy's and Girl's Champs (championships) at our national stadium every year.
There is no bigger event in Jamaica than champs is going on! The local high schools compete fervently with each other for the title. Kingston College, Holmwood Technical High, Vere Technical, St. Jago, Calabar and Manchester High, are some of the schools that have taken the titles in the last decade.
My own high school, Mannings' High - although has not yet won the title, has done commendable in the girls version and has seen some great national representatives, including Alison Beckford.
This yearly competition provides the ground work for the 'super' athletes we produce at the national and international stage.
Of course, I need not mention that Jamaica dominates the Caribbean championships every year!
Herb McKenley, Merlene Ottey, Donald Quarrie, and Arthur Wint are among some of the famous older names in Jamaica's athletics. But nowadays, you will hear of Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell, James Beckford, Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt, for example, are some of the dominant names in their disciplines- anywhere in the world.
My dream is for athletics in Jamaica to now move to the other level where our young star does not have to migrate for better opportunities. The MVP track club is leading the effort in this regard.
Today, October 7 Projects Abroad Jamaica held its weekly Projects Meetings; I decided to sit in on the Care meeting today to see what the new Care Project Coordinator was up to, I quietly took a chair to the side and observed, this is how it all unfolded.
The meeting began with introductions; Patrina, the Project Coordinator asked everyone to stand up say their name, where they’re from and to say one of the most adventurous things they have done. Some of the responses that stood out were, swimming with sharks. Most of the volunteers stated that volunteering in Jamaica was the most adventurous thing they have done to date.
Two fun-filled activities were done as a sort of preamble, before getting to the core of the meeting. The first was asking seven people to write one question each on a piece of paper and seven others on the other side to one answer each on their paper, the papers were then switched up and read aloud, to each question someone else read the answer. One of the questions asked was, why is it raining? And the response given was because I am hungry. Most of the questions centred on the weather (as Jamaica is currently experiencing rainy conditions).
The second game was I guess you could call it the hot seat, saw Patrina asking a few volunteers to sit and several questions were thrown at them real fast, they had thirty seconds to answer the questions. One of the questions asked was, which do you prefer money or women and Michael, a volunteer from Germany said money. What do you suppose you would have answered?
After this game the volunteers were treated to a buffet of Tropical fruits. Some of the Jamaican fruits were pineapples, sugar cane, jackfruit, june plum, watermelon, Jamaican pear, papaya and a few others. The volunteers sampled the fruits and gave their opinions. Most people loved the pineapples.
Patrina then went on to have an English word comprehension session, she introduced the volunteers to words such as expand, expound, decipher, determine, accessible and a host of others. The aim behind this move is to introduce volunteers, especially whose primary language is not English, to these types of English words in order to build the vocabularies of the volunteers.
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