The worldwide Augustana College experience

Gearing Up For An Amazing Jamaican Adventure

This “maiden posting” on the Augie Jamaica blog is occurring about three weeks before our group actually travels. So, my apologies to any reader who was hoping to read about our adventures on the island: those posts will start coming in late December! This blog is being written for two main purposes: (1) for me to test if it’s possible to post with an iPad, as these will be the only computing devices we’ll have on the island; and (2) (and probably more interesting to the reader) to express some of my excitement and anticipation of the upcoming trip.

The Augie students really will be gaining about as broad an appreciation of the island and its culture as any set of foreigners can expect to gain in ten days. Our trip begins with exposure to the Jamaica that is most familiar to the vast majority of Americans who have visited the island: well developed hotels on the north coast with outstanding service. We will then travel to the eastern parish of Portland, a lush and less commercially developed corner of the island where one will find more adventurous foreigners, local vacationers who are “in the know,” and a more authentic rural experience. We then drive through the Blue Mountains into the capital city of Kingston. Kingston is the Jamaica that most islanders experience but few outsiders visit. Here we will have our most authentic interactions with Jamaicans via teaching placements in two local schools. In Kingston we transition from being tourists who are served and instead become teachers who strive to serve the students in the Alpha schools.

As I’ve mentioned to our participants, the timeline of our trip involves a gradual decrease of our material comfort and relaxation, but a gradual increase in the authenticity and meaning of our encounters with a different culture. The Augie students are already nervous about their work performance at Alpha….they must organize 3 full days of worthwhile instruction for students who may have trouble understanding their accents and mannerisms! As one of the organizers of the trip, I must admit that I’m somewhat happy to see how much thought and worry the Augie students are already investing in their teaching preparation. Their nervousness is a sure sign that they really care, that they truly want to provide something worthwhile for their Jamaican students. As I’ve shared with some members of our group, the Alpha schools hold a very special place in my heart…I taught there for seven years, and even lived right on the Alpha compound with my Jamaican wife and daughter for a good period of time. I wouldn’t want to bring just anyone down to work directly with my beloved Alpha students. This group of Augie teachers is more than up to the task of this important work, and I’m very excited to see what they accomplish!

Leave a Reply