Talk Back Jamaica 2019

Jamaica 2019 group photo

The Jamaica project has been in existence for over 19 years and during this time over 214 students have participated in the project. While the project began with the Early Childhood program the Early Childhood Education students (ECE) have had the privilege to work with students from the School of Deaf and Deafblind Studies, Behavioural Science Technology program and for the past two  years the School of Nursing.

This project takes us into Basic and Infant schools in Portmore and Kingston providing opportunities for students to work with children 3 months to 6 years as well as taking us to Maxfield Park Children's Home were the nursing students have the privilege to work with children 1 week – 18 years. These children have various levels of abilities and either attends school outside of the compound or on the property.

We have also had the pleasure of a reciprocal partnership with Shortwood Teachers' College which began in 2005. During our time together, 59 ECE students/faculty have travelled to Toronto to experience play based learning within our Child Care Labschools.

As this project continues we look forward to where it takes us and the journey we travel along together.

Letters from Students:

Djellza Iseni,
January 9, 2019

Djellza Iseni

These last 4 days in Jamaica have been amazing. Flying to Jamaica (Friday January 4th, 2019), we had experienced some turbulence on the plane but as soon as we landed, you could feel the hot air and the humidity as we were getting off the plane and we forgot about the flight. Off we went to our home away from home, Shortwood Teachers' College and it felt like a typical dorm room, but this time a little different because I was rooming with people I had already known. As we settled in and got comfortable, we met the staff at the college, had dinner which was cooked by and amazing chef who wanted to make sure we had everything we needed including lots of water to help keep us hydrated.  We had an early evening as we had an early start to our day and another big day ahead.

Day two (Saturday, January 5th, 2019) the team had awakened at 6am, showered in cold water and got ready for breakfast. Which once again was made by the same chef that had cooked our dinner the night before. Off we go in the school bus to Blue Mountain. Mr. Simpson (our bus driver) came to pick us up, and before starting our journey we said a prayer and drove off to the mountains. We had stopped once to take pictures of the beautiful scenery which was breath taking. We had headed back into the school bus and drove off, as we started going higher and higher, we could feel the climate changing and the scenery becoming more beautiful.

As we arrived at Blue Mountain, Colette had us explore and take pictures, we then had met up at the Blue Mountain house and Mr. Simpson gave the team a tour and hiked with us all the way to the top.  During the climb he showed us the coffee bean in its natural state as it looked like a small cherry. We walked back down, which was a lot easier than climbing up. The Blue Mountain house had opened, and the team had an opportunity to explore the house and meet up for a presentation by Junior, the coffee expert.  Junior had filled our minds with knowledge and information on coffee beans and the history of coffee. Junior had also informed us with the side effects coffee has and what it could lead up to in 20-40 years. We were then introduced the best coffee in the entire world. I am not much of a coffee drinker, but this coffee was smooth, and it had its own bit of sweetness to it. We couldn't walk away empty handed, so we all purchased a few bags of coffee.

After our tour at Blue mountain and grocery shopping, we drove back to Kingston. As soon as we got home, we went back into our dorms to drop off our bags and headed over to the cafeteria for another amazing dinner. After our dinner, we had headed back into our dorms and got ready for bed.

Day three (Sunday January 6th, 2019), the team woke up at 7am, got ready for church and had breakfast.  We then walked over to the Stella Maris Catholic church and were welcomed by the priest and other people in the community. It was an experience of a life time. After church we had taken a few pictures, and then headed back to the college and into our dorm.
Sunday afternoon we had lunch and then had free time to finish up some of our assignments, and work on our activities for Monday. We had sorted our activities and discussed our journals. At 5pm we had dinner, and then come back into our dorm and got ready for Monday. The team and I had our lights shut off at 9pm, so that everyone would have a chance to get enough sleep for Monday.

Monday January 7th, 2019, our first day of school.  The team woke up at 5am, since breakfast was at 6am, and we had to be on the bus by 7am. I think everyone including myself was nervous for our first day because we didn't know what to expect, especially being in a different country and not being familiar with their curriculum. Off to school we go…

I am placed with infants in an integrated school called the McCam Child Development Centre.  I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with infants between the ages of 3 months – 2yrs. We also have a child who has a number of developmental delays which I have never worked with before. During my day I observed my practitioner in the daily routines and hygiene care so that I too can start taking care of the children and spent time with one child reading stories.

While the infants were sleeping, I got to visit and spend time with the other children in the other rooms.  I enjoyed how the staff made me feel welcomed by taking the time to introduce themselves and share a bit Jamaica. 
Back at the dorm during our evening debrief we shared our first day experiences and everyone had positive things to say, we all had talked about our teachers and students, and how we wanted to try harder to give back as much to the children. We are all excited to continue to learn and bring our knowledge and past experiences into our placement in Jamaica.

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Olivia Rosati,
January 9, 2019

Olivia Rosati

What a whirl wind of emotions the past three days have been.  

We have all been at our schools learning routines and schedules, making connections with the children and the staff and finding out where we all fit into the programs. We have experienced challenges, successes, ups and downs. 

The team and I have grown closer every day and I look forward to joining the team at the end of the day and sharing our experiences from that day.

I personally have been placed at McCam Child Development Centre which is an integrated school, meaning that the children in the classes are integrated with typically developing children and those who has developmental delays, special needs or on the Spectrum. 

During the past three days have I have been blown away observing all the children interacting with each other by being so supportive and helpful with one another. The way the children see different abilities is amazing. 

The classroom I have been placed in is a group of 4 year olds who have a wide range of abilities. My focus with this placement will be to create activities that are inclusive of everyone's abilities. So far some of my activities have included singing with shakers, fine motor beading with both bigger and smaller beads to create successes and challenges for the children, colouring, chalk and building with magnet blocks. The children have been very engaged in all activities and I can see them becoming more comfortable with me and letting themselves explore the materials more as the days go on. 

While the children are interacting with the art materials I can see their self esteem grow, as after every mark they call me over with excitement saying, "Auntie Olivia, Auntie Olivia come see my art!". 

I am excited to see what the next weeks entail! Thank you to George Brown College for creating such amazing partnerships down here in Jamaica. This years team and I are so lucky to be here learning and growing together.

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Michelle Waldman,
January 11, 2019

michelle waldman

What a whirl wind of emotions the past three days have been.  

A week has passed and I have happily settled into my new placement. I am working with an incredible group of children who in such a short time have already taught me so much. Today, I introduced them to our giant parachute which they absolutely loved. I showed them how to make waves with it moving our arms up and down, fast and slow. We also added balls to the middle and watched them pop high into the air like popcorn. This is definitely an activity I will bring in again.

After school, we had an opportunity to visit a few different places in Kingston. The first visit was to the University of West Indies, where we were able to see their child care centre that just recently opened. The centre was aiming to be ready for placement this year, however it will be next year's students who will have the chance to experience their facility. The building is an open concept with a beautiful courtyard in the centre and looking out any window you're surrounded by Jamaicas breathtaking views. We were able to tour the rooms and meet some of the children who were very friendly and eager to show us what they were working on. The center is 75% play based and the other 25% focuses on book learning and was quite reflective of some of the centers we have here in Toronto. We also learned that the West Indies campus is actually where Usian Bolt and the Olympic Jamaican swim team hold their practices!

After that we were able to visit the university's chapel that was originally built in 1799 as a distillery and rum store in Trelawny. It was acquired in 1955 where it was disassembled and transported brick by brick and reconstructed at the university.

Our next stop was off to the Bob Marley Museum where we had the pleasure of touring Bob Marley's home while learning about his life and musical career. We saw everything from his famous denim suits, to his bedroom and the room where he was almost assinated; bulletholes still visible. My favourite part of the tour by far, was being able to visit his recording studio where Lauryn Hill re-recorded Marley's famous song "Turn your lights down low". I had goosebumps the entire time. I have always loved reggae music and the rastafarian culture, so it was a privilege to walk through the house of one of the pioneers of the reggae musical industry.

Our final stop was to Devon House, the former resident of George Stiebel, Jamaica's first black millionaire. The property now houses one of the top ten best ice cream shops in the world as well, in my opinion, the best Jamaican patties.

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Megan McLeod,
January 14, 2019

Megan Mcleod

This weekend was a memorable one as we took a scenic drive up to Ocho Rios (which I learned is pronounced Oh-chee Rye-os"). Winding roads, hills of green, locals at their banana stands and wild goats strolling the lands. Once we arrived at Dunn's River, we got our hands dirty climbing up the waterfall with our new matching Jamaican Flag water shoes. This day was especially memorable for me because it was my first time in a long time swimming in salt water and as I was playing tic-tac-toe in the sand, I was surprised to learn that many Jamaicans are unfamiliar with this game. After basking in the glory of the waterfall and spending some much needed time in the great outdoors, we wrapped up the day by stopping for food at a jerk spot with a relaxed atmosphere and some reggae music. Our friend and driver, Mr. Simpson graced us with his presence as well.

On Sunday, the team visited a beautiful service at Boulevard Baptist Church where we were warmly welcomed by the community. The Reverend was so kind as to mention George Brown College within the sermon and the staff prepared a mini reception for us after the service. We wrapped up Sunday with a practice run-through of our Story Box presentations. We received helpful feedback from both our Peers and Colette.

As for today, it was a very special day at school for me. This week being my second week at the school, I feel much more confident in my role as a Student Educator. I have a better grasp on the daily schedule and a better understanding of what is expected of me while feeling more confident in my behaviour management strategies. Today, I was also aware of the increased confidence in my interactions with families.

In terms of curriculum, I introduced my "Artist of the Day" activity where I choose one child per day to draw something of their choice that is meaningful to them, have them share with the class and display it all day at the front of the classroom. This activity supports identity formation within the children as well as presents an opportunity for the other children in the class to take another person's point of view. Today I also implemented an activity using natural objects indigenous to Jamaica that supported the cognitive skill of observing. The activity was called "What's in the bag" and involved using a mystery bag that held the objects. I then placed the items in the middle of the circle, encouraged children to close their eyes, took one object away and had them guess what was missing. Some children followed the set instructions of the activity and others felt inclined to use the materials in their own way. The actions and interactions between children I observed presented a significant opportunity to enrich the children's learning in the cognitive and social areas. I am thoroughly enjoying planning with true emergent curriculum, planning day-by-day based on the children's needs and interested.

 Aside from my activities, today was particularly special due to the warmth expressed by the children and the community. One of the families presented me with a bag of freshly picked ripe ackee as well as a bag of freshly picked sweet sop. I also received a spontaneous group hug from all of the children after story time and experienced moments with individual children that strengthened our bond. These are a few examples of how warm and welcoming this community in Portmore is. I feel happy, supported and welcome.

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Kotomi Yagi,
January 16, 2019

Kotomi Yagi

It is Wednesday of my second week at Shortwood Infant Practicing School. After spending two weeks with children, I noticed two things; how to use effective behaviour guidance and how to support their general preference for activities.
Since the beginning of this week, I am no longer a new face in the room and the children were using their skills to question me as to why I was there and telling me how to do things (playing tricks) so they could get to play longer.  Being outdoors is not only a treat for them but also for me. 

A little tip for behaviour guidance is constantly encouraging the children to use their words. During the first week of school I saw many children using other means to express themselves and while this is the norm, I didn't want children to get hurt.  So, I would step in and talk to them about what took place and support problem solving skills with words.  I realized that when you focus on the positives and give compliments other children want to be recognized as well. 

During the second week, I heard some children were using their words/saying "stop, I don't like that", in that moment I could see positive changes take place and it was a big step for this child to be able to express them self this way.

During my activities I noticed that the children are especially interested in physical, pretend play and representation.   The parachute activity above was a big success as well as dancing and running with scarves.  Other activities have included pretend play and acting out super heroes, animals and going camping.  

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Tharangani De Silva,
January 18, 2019

Thara DeSilva

While growing up I had heard of Chris Gail (a Cricket player) and have been a huge fan of cricket. When I heard about the Jamaican placement experience from Gail Hunter who was teaching us Foundation at that time, I was so excited. I still remember meeting Colette for the first time and telling her that I was interested in this wonderful placement experience. I feel blessed that I'm in this beautiful country and getting to wake up with a panoramic view of the mountains. This placement has been an amazing experience so far. Every day that I am here I feel more grateful and blessed for this opportunity.

It has already been two weeks and I have learned so much while working with the kindergarten children at the Shortwood Infant Practicing school. The children's smiles and their excitement make it easy for me to go to school every day.  The way that they appreciate what we bring to the classroom and how excited they are to do an activity everyday makes me happy and know that I am in the right field.  The staff and families have also been supportive and welcoming.

The children are learning about plants this week, so today the children and I went out and picked leaves on the property for us to paint.  There is nothing more rewarding than using the outdoor environment as a classroom and creating emergent curriculum.  Throughout the activity the children had big smiles on their faces and the expressions made me genuinely happy. 

Yesterday evening was the reception for the George Brown College students held by Shortwood Teachers' College where we met our home stay families. We will be leaving our residence on Sunday and even though I have mixed feelings about leaving Colette who has been my support system throughout and the wonderful team members who has been my family for the past few weeks I'm also excited to spend my last two weeks with my home stay family and learn more about Jamaica and the culture.

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Brittany Cundliffe,
January 21, 2019

Brittany Cundliffe

Hello my fellow Canadians! I hear you receved a lot of snow over the weekend and -30 over there, but we're looking at +30 in Portmore, Jamaica. We've now begun our third week in Jamaica, and I must say I am absolutely loving it! The scenery of mountains surrounding you is something I could look at every day and never get tired of and makes placement here a pleasurable experience. Driving past palm trees and breathing in the fresh air is a beautiful way to start the day.

The weekend that just passed was one to remember. Through our last days residing in Shortwood Teacher's College, we were able to do some really fun things as a team. On Friday night we rented out a soccer field at the Football Factory by the school and played together as a team. We played Portmore VS Kingston as our placements occur in both locations. I was on team Portmore, and to no one's surprise we won! One of the chefs at Shortwood Teacher's College joined our team, which was definitely a big help!

Saturday was definitely one of my favourite days thus far as we spent the majority of the day at the beach. With all of this hard work we finally got the opportunity to relax, have some fun in the sun, eat some amazing fish and lobster, and spend time together as a team. We have all definitely gotten quite close on the trip, and I'm grateful for the relationships we were able to build. Some of us unfortunately did not put enough sun screen on and I was one of those people. I am still going through the repercussions of that as I'm quite burnt, however the fresh aloe growing both on Shortwood's campus, and in my homestay's backyard is definitely helping soothe the pain.

Sunday was our final morning at Shortwood. We woke up, had our last breakfast (which is always delicious), and the team headed off to our homestays. Homestay has been absolutely wonderful thus far. I am enjoying the experience. It feels quite 'homey' and Ms. Morgan, our "homestay mom", is a wonderful host.

This is the beginning of my third week at Hope Temple Basic School and I'm feeling so at home here. The community is full of amazing people, everyone is so warm and welcoming, and I'm extremely grateful that I am able to have this experience. I've found myself developing strong relationships with the teachers I work with, the children that attend, and their families as well. I feel very supported in my activities and as an educator here. I feel that I've built a lot of confidence within myself as an educator as well as working with families.  I truly have loved every moment being at this school, and the children here are absolutely amazing. One of my favourite things is all the hugs I receive in the morning from the children as they arrive to school. The children here are so grateful for everything and it really makes you appreciate the little things. Some of the things that the children enjoy the most are the tree swing that is made out of rope and a piece of wood, and tires that can be used as slides. These children amaze me every day with their creativity and teach me new things too; the children at Hope Temple hold a special place in my heart.

I've learned a lot about myself here, and also about working with children. I enjoy the freedom of following the children's direction of where they would like to take my curriculum activities. A lot of my activities have built on physical development, focusing on fine motor skills including cutting, beading with large beads, and using tools. I've also developed many activities supporting cognitive development with a focus on representation as I have observed a strong interest in dramatic play and building. I have also introduced 'awards of the day', which focus on different skills the children have used throughout that day and awarding them as an achievement. I have found this as a positive behaviour guidance strategy, and the children are always excited to show their family the awards.

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Christine Balneg
January 23, 2019

Christine Balneg

As a practical nursing student, I came to Jamaica to have the opportunity to learn about the culture and how the healthcare is different than the healthcare back in Toronto. I wanted to have a diverse perspective on how culture can influence the way care is given in another country. As well I desired the prospect to experience pediatrics work. By participating in the Jamaica project, alongside the Early Childhood Education students I have gained so much insight into what working with children is like and how to appropriately communicate with children. I have gained better listening skills and leadership skill as well. Furthermore, I have built an interprofessional relationship with my colleagues. These proficiencies that I have gained during my placement here will help me in the future in my field of nursing.

Throughout the experience, my colleague and I set up a free blood pressure clinic at our basic school, Hope Temple. I was able to interact with the community members and get to know their stories and who they are. I have gained skills to appropriately speak to children, I have also gained the ability to speak to the parents as well. I have built relationships with the parents and the grandparents in the community, to implement a plan of care for their hypertension. I have also been working with the children alongside the early childhood education students to teach the children about healthy eating which is vital for their growth, intellectually and physically. Through teaching this notion, I am encouraging lifestyle changes from a very young age. These children are able to share what they have learned at school with their parent/family and to apply a healthy lifestyle to treat and maintain their hypertension.

Today we had a parent teacher meeting to discuss their child's progress and as well as future dates that the parents should be aware of. The early childhood education students,as well as my colleague and I presented at this meeting. The early childhood education students presented about play based learning and by play based learning their child can develop social, emotional, physical, language and cognition skills, which are the 5 domains in the ELECT. The is the document that we follow in Ontario, which the 5 areas of development. The ELECT presents skills and indicators that are developmentally appropriate by the age group. After the early childhood education student's presentation we presented. On the same topic of learning, we introduced our role in the classroom. We discussed our part in teaching about healthy eating and germs. We also presented a summary on the findings of the outcome of the clinic. We discussed that hypertension is prevalent in the community and communicated ways to maintain their hypertension. We spoke about what the risks are if it is not treated and the foods that can help lessen their risks for the future. By teaching both the parents and their children we are providing prevention for high blood pressure in the children's upcoming future. By presenting this I have learned to communicate effectively and efficiently to different age groups. 

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Tenzin Palyoun,
January 25, 2019

Tenzin Palyoun

I recognized that participating in the Jamaica project 2019 was a once in a life time opportunity that I could not miss. I have never experienced another culture outside of my own like I have here in Jamaica due to living with homestay families, working at the basic schools, and becoming more than tourists. Most importantly, the beautiful warm weather and the friendly people are so inviting.

Throughout the weeks my nursing student colleague and I have set up a free blood pressure clinic at our basic school, Hope Temple, where we see members of the community take charge of their health and get checked. Following that, we take part in educating individuals on hypertension. In addition, we have visited other various schools to offer this free clinic and saw Jamaicans from all walks of life. It was a gratifying experience to be able to interact with parents, community members, and teachers.

Today, my colleague and I went to a public health clinic called Rollington Health Clinic. Due to the fact that it was a free clinic, it was crowded and full as soon as it opened. We were introduced quickly to all the staff who were welcoming; we soon discovered that the staff were very diverse coming from Cuba, Nigeria, and even Burma. As I shadowed one of the nurses in the curative care, I noticed that most of the patients had a diabetic foot which needed wound care. I was impressed by how the nurse applied excellent aseptic technique with the limited resources and facility that was available.

In addition, the last Friday of the month seemed to be an obstetric day hence the large number of pregnant women in the waiting room. A midwife invited us to be with her as she examined a six-day old baby who had mild jaundice and a mother who recently gave birth. The nurse was so knowledgeable and passionate in her field that I also hoped to have the same level of enthusiasm when I start my career.

Spending some time in the health clinic reminded me of the reason why I wanted to start nursing initially. I witnessed how much impact nurses have in this inner-city community and how people trusted and relied on them. I have always wanted to be a part of a body that truly helped and built relationships with people in order to reach their goals. I believe that I was able to achieve that throughout this experience.

 

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Maimouna Bida,
January 28, 2019

Maimouna Bida

Years ago, I wrote "Visit Jamaica" in my bucket list. It has always my profound desire to visit the birthplace of Reggae music. So, when during my first semester at George Brown College, I heard about the Jamaican Project, I immediately registered for it. I was so excited to get the opportunity to hear "No, woman no cry" in the very country where Robert Nesta Marley lived and was buried.  More than expected, this international placement has revealed itself as a lifetime experience. First of all, I met wonderful women (team members) bounded together with the desire to impact the young Jamaican children positively under their care. I learned so much from each of them. Then, I met the staff from Shortwood Teachers' College and the educators from Shortwood Practising Infants, Middle and Junior High School, who have been absolutely supportive and welcoming since the first day. But, the most important is when I met those amazing children who displayed everyday resiliency, positive energy and enthusiasm. I keep repeating to myself that this placement is not but my most blessed experience ever.

I cannot imagine that it is already the last week of the placement. It has been more than 10 days of living with Tasmeen and Paul, my host family. They've demonstrated the reality of the legendary Jamaican hospitality.

Today, I had my final placement evaluation which was a special occasion, being able to share the importance of this placement for my professional development. Every single day of these pass 3 weeks has been a unique occasion to learn from the people around me, especially from the kindergartens in Ms. Edwards class at the Shortwood Practicing Infant, Middle and Junior High School. Just witnessing their smiles, their appreciation and their interactions with the materials I've provided for their play, is always the best reward for me.

For example, today the children and I went out to the playground, where I set up three activities for 8 children which is the maximum group size. We had a soccer ball that would for 4 children to play with, a floor puzzle representing children from around the world for 2 children to reassemble it, and homemade felt fruits and small white boards and washable markers set up on a table. I was expecting that, those at the table would like to represent the felt fruits on the white boards but I did not get that. Two children from the first group decided to count the fruits and put their results on the boards. While the second group, only one child was interested by the activity set up on the table and chose to sort the food items by colours. From the last group that I took outside, only one was interested at first by the fruit. He opened the felt board laying on the table, sorted the food according to their nature and colours and began to shout like vendors saying "Fresh bananas, I am selling fresh bananas. Would you like to buy fresh bananas? My bananas are really good." In no time, 4 other children lined up playfully willing to buy fruits, eggs, cake and ice-cream for him.  They seemed so happy while participating in role playing and representing what they know. I sat near them observing and being completely amazed as to the direction of their play and ask questions to enhance the play. 

I'm already planning on how to enrich that activity in order to give them more opportunities to have fun while showing their skills in representation.

I am feeling so blessed to be part of this amazing international experience.

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Marina Giglio,
January 20, 2019

Marina Giglio

When I first heard about this project, I immediately wanted to join the team. I love working with children and traveling. I thought that the Jamaica Project would benefit me in the ECE community not only with the children but with families too. I also really loved the idea of being able to integrate m self into the Jamaican cultural by eating authentic Jamaican foods, working in their schools, living on campus of one of their colleges, staying with a Jamaican family in their home, and so much more.

Finally arriving and getting to integrate myself into the routine of things I realized that it was one of my best decisions to come onto this project. I have learned so much working in the school from both the teachers and children. The children have such a large heart every time you walk in, they come running to give you a big hug!

Some activities I have planned, and implement are sensory based like painting and playdough. The children are really into having that hands-on sensory experience. When I was painting with the children, I first had started off with paint stampers and plastic scrapers. Towards the end of the activity, every group started to paint with their hands and spread the paint. When it came to the playdough all the children could not wait to get their hands on it to squish and mold it.

For today's activity I brought in another sensory based activity but this time it was one that they were not familiar with, snow! When talking to the children about the activity they all started to jump and call out to me asking if they could go. A lot of the children have never seen snow nor touched it. I took each group outside I had every child put in some fake snow crystals into a bowl. They all got super close as I poured in the water and as soon as the fake snow started to rise, they all gasped. When they started to touch the snow, they went straight for it and started to even sniff it and said it smelled funny. I then explained to them that in Canada we have snow and that it looked like the snow we made but it didn't smell the same.

I'm really enjoying spending my time working with the children. They definitely keep me busy, but it is always so amazing seeing how their minds work and what they come up with. I'm going to miss them so much when we leave in a few days!

 

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Sana Bakharia,
February 1, 2019

Sana Bakharia

At this time, we have gotten through four amazing weeks here in Jamaica. From the first week to the fourth week it was a roller coaster! As we started our first week at Shortwood you could see we had all felt a little home sick. Fortunately, we were able to kick it off with a good start as we had a weekend filled with exciting activities ahead of us, such as hiking up a hill at Blue Mountain, getting the opportunity of tasting the world’s best coffee, and attending a wonderful service at a beautiful church. As we got settled in at our schools the following Monday, by the end of the day the team had plenty to talk about during our team meetings every night after dinner. Once the first week had gone by, it was like the second week had flew right by us all. The team continued to experience Jamaica as we visited some more inspiring places like the University of West Indies and the Bob Marley Museum. After that, we ended our day with refreshing ice-cream from Devon’s house which by far had been the best ice-cream I’ve tasted. By the time we knew it, we were on our way to our homestays!

Between the twelve of us, we were taking in by six different homestay families, who were all wonderful. We got a feeling of being in a home again. Our homestay families did not only cook us amazing food, but also had taken us around to see the beauty of Jamaica. With my homestay family being located in Portmore, Jamaica, I had gotten a chance to view the beautiful sceneries around my home, and get a feel of the more humid part of Jamaica. As soon as I had gotten a taste of Jamaican food, I fell in love with it. Some of my favorite foods were curry goat, ackee and salt fish, rice and beans, corn soup, jerk chicken, and the famous Jamaican patties.  

As we reached the last week of placement, it was hard to even let the children know that we would be gone. What I had set up at my school was planted a paper airplane onto my classroom calendar, which indicated how many days I had left. As each day went by, I had started the day with talking about the airplane on the calendar. Everday I had a different child asking me if I was still going back to Canada, and when I would be returning. Even though I had only been at Cumberland for four weeks, it had defiantly felt much longer. The children made me feel welcomed from the moment I had arrived. They enhanced my understanding of comfortability, enjoyment, and most importantly, happiness. As Friday approached it was time to say goodbye to them. I had ended the day with implementing an activity where the children were asked to draw a picture of their favorite activity, I had implemented with them on a puzzle piece. Once everyone was done, we had connected all the puzzle pieces into one giant puzzle. I was so touched to hear from the children that many of their pictures were drawings of me playing with them. Their drawings were absolutely incredible! As the children were leaving one by one and I got my hugs, I wanted to tear. The joy the children had brought to my life the day I had started at Cumberland Basil School has been unforgettable. I will always be grateful for this life time opportunity that I had learned so much from. I have to give a big thank you to George Brown College for this step into this magical door.  

 

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