It’s about time I update!

Well, after my entry from last week got deleted as I tried to post it, it’s time to sum up the week, day by day!

We arrived in Montego Bay on Saturday the 3rd to the craziness of cab and bus drivers and met Mr. Williams (our dedicated driver/casual tour guide) at his bus. The three to four hour-drive to Kingston was much faster and more aggressive than any drive I’ve ever taken in the states! The welcome dinner was fantastic—our first taste of Jamaica.

Our first full day began with a Sunday church service at Dr. Webster’s community church in Kemps Hill. It was a beautiful service that made me feel at ease and left me reflecting on some powerful messages. Above all, I was incredibly impressed by the congregation. These people had so much pride in their praises to God. The songs were sung with such volume, emotion, and even passion, which made it evident as to how devoted they are to the Lord. In the middle of the service we partook in a meet and greet, shaking hands, giving hugs, and exchanging warm words of welcome and thanks. The authenticity of their kindness was comforting. After the service, we ate lunch with the congregation and then had time to meet some of the kids and play, sing, and dance with them. Next, we immersed ourselves into the community with a walking tour, which involved the delivery of hygiene kits to the most needy of families. This experience was moving and eye-opening as we interacted with the people of Kemps Hill and came to learn about their lifestyle that is so different from our own. We ended the day at Dr. Webster’s family’s house where we explored different fruits from her trees, even coconut juice and coconut meat after her neighbor climbed to the tops of the trees to cut down the coconuts.

Monday was our first day at Race Course Primary. We arrived early enough to engage with the students during their morning assembly, introducing ourselves and presenting the school with the funds we raised (shout out to my family and friends as well as Howe Writing Center)! Next, we split up into our assigned classrooms and became familiar with the teachers, students, and rooms. I applaud the teachers of Race Course for their ability to work in stride with the distractions and setbacks (such as excessive noise, crowded classrooms, and limited resources). Essentially, Race Course classrooms are designed in a horseshoe formation and the principal’s office, guidance office, and teacher’s lounge close the gap of that horseshoe. Classrooms that are back-to-back are connected, as true walls are lacking and chalkboards and wood boards work as dividers. The noise from the partnering classrooms carries over in large volumes, causing difficulty for instruction and learning and occasionally steals the students’ attention. However, despite the challenges, these teachers know how to reach their students. For lunch, we were fortunate enough to eat with Mr. Ray, who cooked for us and welcomed us into his home. We spent the afternoon at the basic school, located next to Race Course Primary. This school had three rooms containing three-year-olds, four-year-olds, and five-year-olds. From the start of the day with my third graders to the end of the day with the little tikes, I felt incredibly loved, appreciated, and needed. I got more than my fair share of hugs, squeezes, and loving comments from child after child.

Tuesday was our second and final day at Race Course Primary. It felt odd knowing we were only there for two days because we had already formed such a strong connection with the students and faculty at the school. Once we got to the school, the students attacked yet again—these kids aren’t shy about showing affection! J I headed back to my classroom (Mrs. Wright’s third grade) and got to experience teaching in a Jamaican classroom. As I previously mentioned, my capstone is focused around teaching the character trait of optimism. Once the children finished their writing review, I stepped in. We began with a definition and explanation of optimism and then a read aloud, “Perfect Square” by Michael Hall. This book reflects the story of a square whose shape is transformed, torn apart, and crumpled, among other things. Throughout every change, the square makes the best of his new shape or form. This opened a window for the presentation and reciting of “The Serenity Prayer.” We then moved into strengths. I had every child write one of their strengths on a piece of paper to share with the class (if they so chose). The results of this activity were interesting, ranging from, “I am a good reader” to “I am honest.” A handful of students chose to write, “I am a good listener” after I had given that as my example. The students then raised their hands to tell me something about optimism to receive some fun, extra gifts. I concluded the lesson with a distribution of pencils, colored pencils, smiley face (optimistic) stickers, and erasers. Mr. Ray invited us back to his home for a second luncheon and then we went back to the basic school to spend some last minute time with the little ones. The day ended with our lessons to whole classes on conflict resolution in the primary school—a prominent issue at Race Course. I felt a fantastic connection with the children of Race Course Primary and appreciate the two days we had to come to know and love them! To conclude the day, we took a tour at the Bob Marley museum, learning all about the life of one of Jamaica’s most admired.

Wednesday morning we made the short trip to VOUCH in Kingston, which stands for “A Voluntary Organization for Uplifting Children.” This organization is full of children ages 2/3months to 5 years. We were given a tour of the grounds and classrooms by their principal. Moving in and out of the nursery and classrooms full of little tots was very difficult, seeing as we are all Early Childhood Education majors and adore being around little ones. They didn’t make it easy to say goodbye as they all ran to the fence to wave while playing outside. The teachers seem to have special regard for the students with special needs. They have a special education classroom, containing a specialist who knows how to work with these children and meet their needs. The classrooms we saw there, were in many ways, similar to those I’ve experienced in America (Ohio). Much of the same tactics and methods we learn to use, such as Word Walls and KWL charts, were also seen in these classrooms. At VOUCH, their goal is to have every child literate by the time they leave to go to primary school. Once we left, we took a walk through the National Heroes Park and saw some of Jamaica’s national monuments and graves of national heroes. From that point, we met back up with the medical group and headed to Port Royal where we were given a tour and eventually took a boat ride to a deserted island to soak up the sun!

Thursday was another early day, as we all boarded the bus and half of us (the education team) said “goodbye” to Kingston as we made our way to Ocho Rios to climb Dunns River Falls. After our incredibly enjoyable morning climbing the falls, we proceeded to Montego Bay to spend one last day as a whole group, enjoying one of the beautiful beaches of Jamaica!

Our final day in Jamaica, Friday, was our free day. A small group of us chose to go on a walking tour with Dr. M, Marty, and a spontaneous “guide” (one of the hotel workers who led their tour the previous year). This 3 and a half hour expedition allowed us to explore the “real” Montego Bay, moving deep into the city and experiencing the lives of the locals, everywhere from the Farmer’s Market to the legitimate transportation center. Our guide informed us that obtaining transportation from the touristy area in which we stayed to Negril costs $60 a person. However, if we were to go to this transportation center in the middle of town that the locals use, it is $5 a person. Most of us ended the tour at the Craft Market where we were swarmed and directed, experiencing a whole new meaning of bargain shopping and the importance of haggling. The rest of the day we laid on the beach and swam in the ocean, still thankful as can be for the beautiful week-long weather.

In reflection, I can undoubtedly say this was one of the best and most educational trips I’ve ever taken. I appreciated every experience and felt appreciated in return (by the children and adults of the community). Also, I feel as though I served a purpose, no matter how small, but I did something I needed to do. I have extreme respect for many residents of Jamaica, making the best of every situation and every card they are dealt.



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Better late than never!

To start off the venture to Jamaica, I woke up at 3:30 and left for the airport a little after 4 am. Then as I was going through security I was told that technically I was not allowed to take all the toothpaste through on my carry on because of the gel, but I got away with it luckily. Good thing I did not have to throw away all my donations; take notes if you are traveling in the near future! Our plane left at seven am and took us to Orlando where we got food and had a two-hour layover. We had our last flight and got picked up by our Jamaican bus driver, Mr. Williams. Our bus ride to the hotel was then a few hours long, but we decided to stop and get food to break it up. We stopped at a place on the side of the road and got jerk chicken, French fries and Ting, which is a grapefruit drink, so our trip ended up being around four and a half hours. It was almost all through a mountainous terrain with driving that was way more aggressive than what I am used to. We got in at 7:30 pm and had a welcome dinner at eight with chicken, corn, rice and beans, vegetables and bread. I could not have been happier to get settled in for the night.

The first morning we woke up at 6:30 and had a breakfast at seven that consisted of normal things such as frosted flakes, bacon, eggs and yogurt. We then left to go to the church in Kemps Hill. Turns out that the drive was another hour and forty minutes from our hotel! We arrived at the church at 9:30 or so and the service started at 10. A lot of children were there from the school so we got to meet them, which was nice. The service lasted about three hours, but the locals were at church an hour or so early and then stayed for a few hours after for lunch for socializing. It is so nice that no one here is ever rushed. They do things at their own pace and are not too worried about anything. We shook hands and hugged all the people that showed up for the service. One man prepared lunch for everyone! Afterwards, we walked around the village and handed out hygiene kits. We also handed out pencils and crayons to everyone there after church. We then spent the afternoon with the children finding and eating coconuts from Dr. Webster’s backyard. Once we got back to the hotel, it wasn’t tanning weather and the pool supposedly closed at six so we got food instead.

Monday we woke up at 5:30 am and drove almost two hours to the school. They start school off every day with a school wide assembly so that is when we were introduced to the children and then we headed off to our own classrooms. The walls divided the classrooms but did not go all the way to the roof because of that the noise level in the school was absolutely unbelievable. You can hear every word being said in the other classrooms and could hear nothing the teacher in the front of the room was lecturing on. I had a hard time paying attention so I could not imagine being a student. A funny side note, I was wearing my key necklace and they were fascinated by it. They called it a car key and wanted to know if it would work in real life. Once we made our trip back to the hotel, we tried going to the pool, but it got cloudy and rainy so we just ended up staying in our rooms and getting ready to teach our lessons the next day.

For our last day at the school we got up at 6:30. This is the day when we taught our lesson the character education traits. Miraculously, as I read my book to the class I had every student’s attention and they were all sitting quietly. I taught my lesson on perseverance and persistence and started off by having them raise their hands if they had heard either of those words before. I did not know what to expect, but they were completely new to the students so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Because of the language barrier, the lesson was difficult to teach because I had a hard time gauging how it was going. Originally I had a relay game planned but the day I taught they were not allowed outside for some reason. The teacher said I had to do it in the classroom so the children helped me push all the desks to the side of the room and I had to modify it completely. I am glad we tried it because even though it was hard to modify, split into teams and get the children behaved, they had a blast! I left the toys for the relay and relay directions with the teacher and they were thrilled about that. I was not nervous for my lesson and it seemed natural, which was shocking. I did not realize until that moment how well Miami has done with preparing me for my future job. Both Monday and Tuesday, we took a three-minute walk from the school to a man’s house. His name was Ray and we had met him at the church. He was the one who fixed the meal for the hundreds of people. He hosted us and fixed us yummy food for those two days, which was so nice. He actually has had his own cooking show! After lunch, we got a very quick walk through of the hospital. To finish up the day we went to the Bob Marley museum, which was actually his house! Our tour guide was super enthusiastic and a fantastic singer! Whenever we hadn’t heard of a song she would sing for us. We went through his entire house and watched a twenty-minute video. For dinner, I walked with a big group of girls to an Americanized sports bar and got a salad.

The day after we finally got to sleep in until 8:30!!! We had breakfast at the hotel as usual and went to a place called Vouch. This was a school where students pay to attend. It was very different of the school we spent time in the past few days before. It was filled with student teachers and the principal was very involved with the surrounding community. All of the classrooms were so impressive and they used all the teaching techniques we have learned at Miami. We got a tour and spent a few minutes in each classroom. The nursery was my absolute favorite. I got to hold a tiny baby! He was so happy and giggly. Next, we walked to a park that had a bunch of monuments. They had men guarding one of them and had something very similar to changing of the guards in the U.S. For lunch we went to a place, which reminded me a lot of Taco Bell. Next, we drove not far away to a place called Port Royal. It was interesting, but I was in the back of the tour and couldn’t hear anything so I am sure I missed out on a lot of information. Finally, we drove a few minutes away to a boat place. We all got on a boat and it took us to a private island. Luckily, we stopped by a gas station and managed to get 24 prescription strength pills for motion sickness so I was good all day! The island was beautiful, but we only got to stay there for a short time. This night we had a long, debriefing dinner where we talked with the whole group about our trip so far. We got up in front of everyone and got video taped our reactions to the trip so far; it definitely helped me to get to know the other students better.

The last couple days we traveled to Dunn’s River to climb the waterfall, which was a blast. As someone mentioned earlier, it was definitely a bonding experience. From there we traveled to Montego Bay for the rest of our trip. We got to spend the rest of our spring break enjoying the beach and craft markets!

This trip was an amazing experience and definitely could not have been done without everyone’s hard work and time commitment. Thank you especially to Dr. Webster and Dr. Montgomery for everything it took to put this wonderful trip together. It is so refreshing to see Miami students out of the country, making a difference. I can’t wait to see what happens in the upcoming years.


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This week has been a total whirlwind! In an attempt to disconnect from the outside world and other distractions for a little, I didn’t bring my computer with me to Jamaica. Sorry it has taken me so long to talk about my experience over the past week!

This was a great learning experience for me. I met some awesome people, taught students about compassion and conflict resolution, and tried some new things! (Curried goat is actually really good! It’s not what you may think…)

On Monday, we anxiously arrived at Race Course Primary School, not sure exactly what to expect. We made it just in time in the morning to see the start of a typical day, which starts with a morning devotional. The students sing songs, pray for the day, and recite the Jamaican pledge. All students, grades 1-6 are outside of the school, in lines divided by grade and gender, signing and chanting in unison. The students at Race Course come from all over the surrounding communities to this school for an education. Regardless of SES status, all students are there, in their assigned (and nicely pressed) uniforms, ready for the day. I had never seen a “morning” meeting like this, with affirmations, prayer, and in a large group setting.

After the meeting, I went to my assigned classroom, Miss James’ 3rd grade class. I most recently have been in classrooms with older students here at Miami and in my field experiences. I appreciate their prospective on school and disposition toward education, so I was excited about working with older students again. When I first arrived, two things were very obvious to me immediately: I had started sweating immediately (SO HOT!) and the level of noise. All of the classes take place in one building, divided only by blackboards. After briefly talking to my teacher, she decided that it would be best to just jump in with both feet and teach my lesson first thing in the morning. I think that there was a bit of confusion with the language barrier, but after Dr. Webster (a native Jamaican) helped me get the ball rolling, the children better understood the concept of compassion. After reading the book, Selivi, the students were asked to draw of picture or write about where they will show compassion in their neighborhood, school, or community. Many of the students used the example that we talked about during the reading of the book, sharing. However others defined “compassion” as “kindness” and “sharing love.” We talked about helping others who need it, like people that are sick. Many students drew pictures about sharing food, and playing nicely after school. Some even mentioned helping their families at home. It was a little of rough start due to language, different teaching styles, and cultural understandings/backgrounds, but in the end, we all ended on the same page, realizing and defining the importance of compassion in our world.

I also really liked just spending time with the students during their breaks. They were really excited that we were there, wanting to know about what school is like for us, what kind of food we eat, etc. It was nice being able to connect with the students and see what life is like for them everyday.

On the second day at the schools, we went around to classrooms, presenting a short PSA about conflict resolution. We wanted to inform the students about positive, constructive ways to handle conflict and steps that they could follow when trying to resolve these differences. In the first class we went to, it was obvious that between the noise and the language barrier, we needed to come up with some ways to help support the students understanding. We quickly generated hand motions, one motion for each step so that students could not only better understand what we were saying, but also use them as a tool to better remember each step. We left classroom teachers with sheets of paper that outlined the six steps to be hung and referenced in each classroom. I hope that teachers and students both use this step process to resolve differences to cut back on more physical methods of resolution.


This week was a great experience, both educationally and culturally. While we worked hard this week, teaching students and providing hygiene kits whenever we could, we also had an opportunity to experience other parts of Jamaica and its people too. I was able to ride to the top of one of the mountains and look down on all of Kingston; we went to Dr. Webster’s church for a wonderful service, lunch, and walking tour; we saw some of the national parks and green spaces; we tasted the many (spicy) flavors of Jamaican cooking traditions; we learned about one of the soon to be national heroes, Bob Marley, toured his house and “jammed” to some of his greatest hits; we met the Governor General’s wife, Lady Allen, and had some insight into Jamaican royalty; we even climbed a waterfall and experienced paradise on a white sand beach.

Jamaica’s people, culture and land have so much to offer, despite its “third world” appearance. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of everything that makes Jamaica one of the greatest paradises I have ever been fortunate to experience. I am so thankful for this experience, the people that I met, and the memories that I will be able to cherish for a long time. Thanks Jamaica; you were wonderful to us! I hope to see you again very soon.

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Last Part of the Trip

The last time that I blogged, I believe that I left off on Tuesday with the Bob Marley museum.  To sum up the rest of the trip, on Wednesday in the morning, some of us went to VOUCH, which stands for A Voluntary Organization for Uplifting Children.  This tour was especially meaningful and fun for us Early Childhood majors because we were able to interact with little babies and children.  Also, many of the teaching practices that we have learned at Miami through our classes were evident through this program, which was impressive.  I never doubted my education at Miami, but this goes to show that upcoming Miami teachers are definitely getting prepared for the classroom.  Next, we met up with the entire group and took a tour of Port Royal and Fort Charles.  We also got to have some sun time at the beach that was nearby.  The most memorable part of that day was the boat ride there.  To fight the treacherous waves, the boat driver had to go so fast.  It was literally like a roller coaster ride on the water!  (And I absolutely LOVE roller coasters!)  On the way back, we actually went slower and I started to get a headache from that and not the fast speed!

Thursday was our last early day as we left our hotel in Kingston to travel to Ocho Rios to go to Dunns River Falls.  I think that this was one of my favorite parts of the trip!  It was so much fun.  After that, we traveled on the bus to Montego Bay and really started our “spring break” with some beach time.  Then, on Friday, some of us got up early to walk with Dr. M to the “real” Montego Bay and to the craft market.  Along the way, we met up with a Jamaican friend that she recognized and he gave us an extensive tour.  I had quite the shopping experience at the craft market.  I ended up spending practically all of my Jamaican money and some U.S. money, however, I did do some bartering when necessary!  After the craft market, I spent the rest of my day at the beach and at the pool.  What a way to end this trip!

Now that I am back in the United States, I will be looking over the capstone information that I acquired from this trip and reflecting on the trip in general as I begin to create my poster for the Undergraduate Research Forum on April 11th.

Thank you for reading!  Enjoy the last set of pictures!


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Back in the United States

We are all sitting in the Orlando, FL. airport waiting for our flight to Dayton, OH. It is so bitter sweet. The service-learning trip was a blast, one of the best experiences that I have been given the opportunity to be a part of, but I am extremely ready to go home.

It is weird, because even though the last two days in Montego Bay was our free time and like a “mini vacation” I enjoyed the time spent in Kingston much more. I think this is because of working with the children and seeing all the history of Kingston. One of my favorite parts of Kingston was visiting the Bob Marley Museum, I learned a lot there and have continued to learn more throughout our stay in Jamaica.

My absolute favorite part of the trip was climbing Dunn’s River Falls. It was the best bonding experience for all of us and I know I will never be given the opportunity to do it again. We rented goofy looking water shoes and linked hands the entire climb. I was shocked at how dangerous the climb was, someone could easily fall. There were seniors and little kids, but that’s the  thrill of it.

One of the main reasons that I enjoyed this trip so much was because of the people. Our group was so diverse, and we all enjoyed learning about each other and getting to know one another. It was a mix of different majors and ages, some people who had traveled to Jamaica before, and others who have never been out of the country at all.

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Last day in Kingston

Today was our last day in Kingston, Jamaica! This week has flown by, I can’t believe that it is already time to head back to Montego Bay.

Today was one of my favorite days of the entire trip so far. We were able to see an educational system of Jamaica, that was not the Race Course Primary School. I loved being able to compare two school systems and get a broader view, so I did not generalize Jamaican’s education as much. VOUCH (Voluntary Organization for Uplifting of Children), amazed me. Going in, I expected it to be a model image of Race Course Primary School, I was wrong. VOUCH blew me away with how advanced their students were being educated. In the classrooms, there were many strategies/methods/techniques that are used in the United States when teaching children. There were KWL charts, Word Walls, games such as Snakes and Ladders, manipulatives, etc. There were colorful posters hanging everywhere and the students were extremely disciplined. The school even had a special services classroom. This classroom had three students in it, but usually has seven. VOUCH is also preparing for a library in the near future and an increase of classrooms because of family’s desires to send their kids to this school. Many are on a waiting list or have to be turned down because of limited space. The woman that give us the tour of VOUCH was extremely educated. She has a bachelors degree and is currently working on her Masters degree in Administration. She is perfect to be running the school, and has a goal for herself and the persons involved with the school.

The rest of the day was awesome. We drove to Port Royal and got a tour from a very friendly guide. We learned a lot about the history of the town, my favorite part was the tilted  building. It allowed me to connect with what the tour guide was explaining to us. After Port Royal, we had some free time! We took a boat to a private island and got to hang out/play there. That was very relaxing, I fell asleep laying on the beach, what more could you want.

At 7:00 pm my fellow travelers and I had our farewell dinner. I didn’t know what to expect, but I am extremely glad that it turned out as it did. I learned a lot about my peers and what they gained from this experience. It was nice to hear their stories and compare/contrast them to mine and also gain insight of what I can do to better myself and others around me.

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Every time I go to Jamaica, I climb up on the roof… Don’t tell Dr M or Dr Webster.

There is absolutely no better way to enjoy a city than to wait until nightfall, climb up someplace you clearly shouldn’t be, and feel the wind in your face as you stand someplace far higher than any human should naturally stand. You feel like you have conquered something and yet you feel like you have never been smaller. You feel utterly alone at the top of the world and yet you feel like you are an integral part of the city that is living and breathing hundreds of feet below you. And if you are Maria or myself, you also vacillate between feeling utterly exhilarated and feeling like you need to be sick with fear at your current altitude.

Marc, Maria and I climbed up on the roof tonight. We saw the lights of the national stadium, which are the brightest and whitest lights in the whole city and illuminate the entirety of the blocks surrounding them. We saw the yellowy lights of every building and street lamp in Old and New Kingston. We saw the lights of the bridge across the harbor. And we even saw the lights of the tiny houses (and not-so-tiny mansions) on the sides of the Blue Mountains. Of the many things I will remember this trip, tonight is most certainly one that will stick with me the best.

Finally got to spend a little time at Lionel Town Hospital today. There has been an enormous amount of progress that has occurred on the grounds since last year but there is still a staggering amount of work that needs to be done to get the hospital back to where it was before it was devastated by the hurricanes a few years ago. There still isn’t an operating theatre, the entire old male ward is empty because the bathrooms are demolished (literally: chunks of brick and tile everywhere, pipes bent out of the walls, holes in the ceiling) and there aren’t enough beds to supply an entire ward. There are two computers but only one printer with an inconsistent ink supply. There aren’t enough thermometers and the ones the hospital has are made from glass & mercury so the patients keep breaking them. The blood pressure cuffs don’t give accurate readings. Patients are triaged in the hallway in front of the other patients waiting (It’s a HIPAA nightmare). But there is still so much good going on there and so many patients being served. I can’t wait to do more work throughout the next year to help out the staff and patients at Lionel Town.

We also got to visit the Bob Marley museum. It was so strange but so awesome walking through the house where he lived, seeing newspaper clippings of him with famous people like Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder, standing in the room where he, his wife, and his publicist were shot by radicals, and looking at all of the super-prestigious awards that he won (at least a dozen gold and platinum records… being inside that room was like being in an ostentatious jewelry store).

Today was awesome and I am absolutely exhausted. I cannot wait for tomorrow. Hopefully it will bring more time in this spectacular Jamaican sun (:

Peace- Katie

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School Days and Bob Marley

For the past two days, me and the rest of the Early Childhood Education students as well as some of the other students on this trip went to the Race Course Primary School on Monday and Tuesday.  We went into classrooms and observed the classrooms, interacted with the children, and many of us even taught lessons.  Our lessons focused on either a particular character education trait, a science aspect, or the six steps to conflict resolution.  For those of us who taught in the classroom, it was a different teaching experience than we were used to.  The children are used to a “call and response” type learning experience and a more laid-back approach when it comes to completing work.  However, the approaches that we tried were more discussion based.  Also, the classroom environment played some significant factors into our teaching and the children’s learning experience.  The children are sitting very close together in desks and some are even sharing desks.  There is not a lot of room to move around and noises from other classrooms can be heard because the dividing walls between the classrooms do not reach the ceiling.  Therefore, sounds from other classrooms can be heard easily and it can be very distracting for both the teacher and the children.  While teaching our lessons, we often had to project our voices or even yell in order to be heard.  Although we had to overcome some of those circumstances, teaching at the Race Course Primary School was an interesting experience as it helped to contribute to our growths as upcoming teachers.

In this post, I am including some pictures from the school and pictures from the Bob Marley Museum, which is where we stopped after the school on Tuesday.



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Teaching Science at Racecourse

Well, I never thought I’d be teaching a science lesson this trip, but Dr Webster decided late last night that Spencer and I would be teaching the sixth graders a lesson on science and health. Lionel Town Hospital wasn’t ready to handle all of us pre-meds at once so Toni, Colleen, Dr Dee, Maria, Abby, Courtney, and Marty all went to the hospital today while Marc, Jack, Spencer, Mia, Adrienne and I went to the school and will be visiting the hospital tomorrow.

Here are the things that struck me about today:

1) It takes an immense amount of discipline to keep that many kids in line. The boys were SO rambunctious! They kept poking each other in the face and choking each other and generally doing all of the things that 6-10 year old boys do. It was cute from an observer’s perspective but if I were a teacher I would be exhausted from constantly breaking apart all of their little fights.

2) The kids at the basic school are adorable. They wore these little red and white gingham sailor suits, knew all of the words to their prayers, and managed to get their lunches (soup and cheese puffs…) all over their chubby little cheeks and chins. They love to cuddle and climb up in the lap of whoever will hold them. Children in Jamaica start “basic school” (we call it preschool) when they’re as young as two. The kids today were learning about families. I think their teachers are responsible for helping them to learn about all of the social customs and structures that their parents aren’t teaching them at home because they’re too busy doing other things.

3) Teaching the sixth graders about diabetes, vaccinations, needle safety, AIDS, and sickle cell anemia was a fantastic and wonderfully fun experience. I think Spencer and I learned as much from them as they did from us and we were shocked by the depth and breadth of their knowledge. Watching the looks on their faces when we helped them use the stethoscope was priceless. It was so cool to get to teach the medicine I love to kids who were so eager to soak up knowledge and ask us questions.

4) Jack, Mia, and I went to the high school for a brief time today with Dr Webster. We were surprised when a group of girls came up to us and told us they were jealous of how pretty we were because of our white skin. Dr Webster was quick to tell them that every person is beautiful and unique but I was still so shocked to hear those girls say that. Dr W pointed out that white people go tanning to look darker, which I had never thought of in a racial context either. It was a strange experience and it really got me thinking.

To the hospital tomorrow for half a day; then pooltime in the afternoon!

Peace– Katie

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