The worldwide Augustana College experience


The four days spent at the Alpha School in Kingston were more than I could’ve ever imagined. On the first day, some classmates and I sat in on an assembly for the house, Florence. To hear the girls singing, chanting, blowing their horns, and running throughout the roads just brightened my day. But what brought me the utmost happiness was seeing the smiles on their faces.

After the assembly, the girls went to their respective classrooms to start their lessons of the day. Dr. Egan, a few of my fellow classmates, and I were substitutes for the math teacher that day. It was so interesting to observe how the girls acted in the classroom compared to how kids in the United States act. When Dr. Egan walked into the room, they all stood up and were respectfully quiet until he gave them permission to sit down. Students in the United States do not show the same amount of respect for their teachers. Typically students are not quiet when the teacher is talking, let alone standing up for them when they enter the room. Another difference I saw between the girls in the Jamaica school and students in the U.S is that the students at the Alpha school are so willing to participate and are very excited about whatever they are learning. Students in the United States are almost forced to participate in class and they do not enjoy going to school the same way as the Alpha girls do. All in all, I am confident in saying that students in Jamaica really value and appreciate their education more than students in the U.S.

After observing and assisting groups in different math classes, it was time for lunch… however, it was almost impossible to eat. Many girls at the Alpha school approached my fellow classmates and I with jokes, questions, and good conversation. I attempted to learn pattwa, explained how I got my hair to be so straight, and learned that the girls REALLY like Vybze Kartel.

Over the several days we were at the Alpha school, it was very clear that the girls valued their education, were very competitive in the classroom and in their sporting events, and they had a strong spiritual life. I can confidently say that I created friendships with several girls at the school. It was so hard to leave one particularly girl who I really connected with since the first day we stepped foot on the Alpha campus. She found me on some social networks and I know I will be able to keep in contact with her. Being at the Alpha school opened to my eyes to many different viewpoints and different way of thinking about things. We were not there to help the school, but they were there to help us. Most of my classmates on this trip are going to be teachers and they were able to observe different classrooms and gain some insight from other teachers.

All in all, this trip gave me an experience of a lifetime. I was able to meet individuals who I never would’ve imagined meeting and they made such an impact on me in such little time. I leave a piece of my heart at Alpha and I hope to return there again.

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