The worldwide Augustana College experience

The final days. Sad to go.

Kingston

We made it through the mountains alive!  It was a pretty crazy drive but the scenery was beautiful. Once we were in Kingston, the atmosphere completely change. Before arriving to Kingston, we stayed and traveled to serene places with beautiful vegetation. Kingston on the other hand, while still beautiful, is full of city noise and smells, traffic, and loud honking. We stayed in the Knutsford hotel which was a very nice hotel. Our first meal in Kingston was Pizza Hut and I will have to admit that it was nice to eat the greasy food that I am use to having.

After we got settled in our hotel rooms, all the math teachers got together and we went over our lesson plans for the next day. I was really excited to finally get to meet all the girls and walk around the school that Dr. Egan has been raving about for the past year. Along with my excitement, I was nervous and a little bit scared. I was nervous because I have not had a lot of experience in front of the classroom and I was scared that I would not be able to understand the girls and that they would not learn well from us.
  My fears soon subsided when we arrived on the campus and met all the girls for the first time.  When we got on the campus, we were let in at the gate by a guard at the front gate.  We got to meet a few of the teachers from Alpha and the principal at the girls school Mr. Singh.  He has been the principal for about a decade and he was very soft spoken. But when he spoke, he made us all feel welcome and he speaks powerful words.  We were introduced to the school in the hall (auditorium) and were seated up on stage. Mr. Singh spoke about women all over the world not having opportunity to be educated and are treated poorly. He preached that they need to work hard in order to better themselves and reach their potential. After we were introduced to the girls, we departed the hall to get ready for our first day of teaching.
We all were showed to our classrooms and I was excited to get to see what it would look like. The six of us were divided between three buildings. The classrooms had windows on all sides and a big ceiling fan to help circulate air.  The windows and fans helped a little bit but I was still dripping in sweat by the end of the day. My classroom had a whiteboard, a little chalk board, and small desk for me.  When I first got into the classroom I set my things down, got out my lesson plans and wrote our daily schedule up on the board. I also wrote my name and some of the icebreaker activity that we were going to do as a class.  The girls started coming into the class and I got more and more nervous about how they would respond to me.  At the beginning of the class day, I introduced by self and set around a sheet of name tags for the girls. Then I told the girls a little about myself and then asked them to say their name and something about themselves.  When the girls were done I then said that our beginning activity was going to be “Hot Seat” where the girls get to ask me any question they want. I got some good questions. Some of the questions included “Are there black people where I come from?”, “Why do I like math class?”, and “Why do we all carry really big bags?”   The last one took me by surprise.  After the ice breaker activity, we took off running with transformations.
I was surprised at how tired I was at the end of the day. I was exhausted but when we got back to the hotel, I showered and then we had dinner served to us at the hotel restaurant.  Even though all we wanted to do was go to bed, all the math teachers got together to plan the next days activities.  As the days progressed, I became more and more comfortable being in front of the classroom and I was able to understand the girls a little better. The second day ended and we were just as tired as we were the first day. We got back to the hotel, changed into some other clothes, and then took off on foot to explore the Kingston area around our hotel. We stopped at Burger King and got some dinner and then headed back to the hotel to write our lesson plans for the final day at the Alpha schools.
It was the final day and I was excited and yet sad to see this day come. I was excited because we planned and made a little mini quiz that all the girls would take and we would get to see if we made a difference by coming down here and if the girls learned anything from us.  I was sad because I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye to the girls even though we only knew them for three short days.  After the quiz was over, we went over the answers and there was still about 20 minutes left. We had planned to do an overall review with our students but instead I decided to take the time to take a class picture with my home room students and get to know them a little better. We took our picture in front of our classroom and then headed back into the classroom to talk. I asked them questions and they asked me questions. We got on the subject of music and I thought it would be really nice if they could make me a list of music. I passed around a sheet of paper and asked them to write down any songs that they think I should have on my iTunes. I got a list of about 30 songs.
They class day was coming to an end.  To conclude the class, I wrote down my email address on the board and told them to email me with any math questions or if they just wanted to keep in touch and have a pen pal. We concluded at noon because there was going to be an assembly after we had a quick lunch as a send off to us since it was our last day. The girls sang songs and danced. There was a presentation about the history of the Alpha schools and thank you speeches from staff members, students, and the principal. I almost cried about 3 times. I was sad to go because it was amazing to see the difference we made in 3 short days here. I was also sad because these girls have changed me as well. They have showed me how to be a better teacher, how to have patience, and how to be a better person by caring for and loving all human beings.
Even though I loved hearing the girls sing and dance, and all of the thank you speeches were wonderful, my favorite part of the ceremony was when Katie, Isaac, and I got up on stage and danced in front of the entire school. At first we were suppose to act like we couldn’t dance at all.  I know that we all can’t dance like the girls can so this task was not too difficult. One thing we all did was the Bernie, which is a dance move that all three of us knew how to do. We all did it together and the crowd loved it. Even the girls didn’t know that dance and were asking us what it as called and how to do it. After we did our dances, girls from our home rooms came up on stage with us and we had a mini dance off where the girls taught us dances and then we performed them on stage. After we did our dances, the crowd voted on best teacher (which in this case were our students) and best student (which in this case was us). Both my student and I got the loudest cheers. It was so much fun to interact with the girls in something that they enjoy.
Now I am on the plane headed home. I am sad to leave but I know that we made a difference while we were here. This will not be the last time that I will be in Jamaica and I hope that I will be able to find my way back to either the Alpha schools or another school some how.  My life has been completely changed by this experience and I want to say thank you to all the administration both at Augie and at Alpha who made this trip possible. Thank you to Dr. Egan and Dr. J for taking us and guiding us around this amazing island. Finally thank you to the amazing group of friends that I got to know better. Without this group of people, this trip would not have been as amazing as it was. I guess that is all for now.  Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect Jamaica!

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