The worldwide Augustana College experience

Anna Dispensa Jamaica Blog #2

The second part of our trip consisted traveling to Kingston to observe in the schools as well as experience the city. On our first day at the schools, I didn’t know what to expect and was a little bit nervous. I was placed in a sixth grade classroom and despite preferring to work with younger children, I had an amazing experience. The students were thrilled to talk to me and ask me questions about living in America. I talked a lot to the students about the seasons. My teacher even let me take over the class for about 30 minutes to conduct a conversation with the students.

They asked me many questions including how it feels in the winter in Chicago. It was very hard for the students to fathom the idea that the temperature drops below zero degrees and it is necessary to wear coats, hats, gloves, and scarves in order to go outside. At one point, I made a comment about frostbite and did not realize that the students didn’t know what frostbite was!

Aside from this discussion with the students, I was also able to observe my teacher throughout the experience. Because I was in sixth grade, the students were preparing for the GSAT exam. They were reviewing formulas for perimeter and area of a multitude of shapes. One major difference between the style of teaching in Jamaica versus in the United States that I noticed was the idea of rote memorization. Many of the lessons revolved around the teacher stating a piece of information and the students repenting this back in unison to the teacher.

In terms of the school in general, based upon the Jamaican Gleaner article that we read about schools having to be dismissed due to violence, I was afraid that something like this would happen. Despite this though, I felt very safe at the school and in Kingston in general. Overall, I had an amazing experience at the alpha schools and am so excited that I was able to participate in this experience. I learned so much from these few days in the school which will surely be of value to me in my future teaching experiences!

In addition to the schooling experience, I also greatly enjoyed being in Kingston as well. Over the weekend, we visited some key places that were of importance to Bob Marley. We began in Trenchtown where Marley grew up. The museum that housed Marley’s guitar as well as some other artifacts from his life was very interesting to examine! My favorite part of being in Trenchtown, though, was walking though the area and seeing all of the homes and interacting with the individuals. Everyone was so welcoming and nice and one woman even let us look at the inside of her home. The sense of community present within this area was amazing and something in which I desperately wish we had in America.

After our stop in Trenchtown, we headed down to 56 Hope Road, Bob Marley’s later home. Being able to see more authentic artifacts as well as hear about Marley’s life form the tour guide was once again very cool! As the tour was concluding, we actually were able to meet Julian Marley, one of Bob’s sons. Julian was very friendly and was willing to take a picture with us! I loved being able to meet one of Bob’s family members who still carries on his legacy today. Before we left, our tour guide informed us of a concert in which we could attend where the Marley’s would be present.

So, the next evening, we went down to Tuff Gong studios in hopes that the Marley’s would be present. Finally, after a few hours of waiting, Julian Marley, Stephen Marley, and Damien Marley entered the studios. They paraded directly to the front stage and were hanging out in an exclusive area. Wanting to meet the Marley’s, I stood out by the security gate in hopes that they would walk by. As I was standing, a man approached me, introduced himself, and said he could tell I wanted to meet the Marley’s. He then told me that he was a very close friend of the Marley’s and would take me to meet them! I was able to go into the exclusive area of the venue where I not only got to meet but actually talk to all three of the Marley’s!

I was so overwhelmed and excited, as this experience was absolutely amazing. Overall, Kingston was filled with the opportunity to examine the schooling system and interact with the students as well as filled with many cultural aspects. Overall, although I was a little bit afraid of traveling to Kingston at first due to the violence that we talked about in class, I loved the experience. I felt very safe and welcome. I was really able to see a side of Jamaica that I was unable to see within the resort and was very appreciative of this opportunity! As we begin traveling through the mountains and towards Port Antonio for the last leg of the trip, I am hoping to experience more of the beauty of Jamaica.


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