When I went to Jamaica with my school in the last days of May, I didn’t know what to expect. I was mainly focused on getting the work done and becoming closer to God through the experience. However, once I actually got there, surrounded by my classmates, I knew I wouldn’t be able to just do the work. The kids there gave us, who were total strangers, the warmest welcome you could imagine. This one little boy, Glenville, was excitedly running up to everyone and gave us all hugs with the biggest smile on his face. The rest of the kids were just as enthusiastic about our arrival. Even though it was only our first day there, they all treated us like we were their best friends.
The rest of the days were a bit of a struggle when it came to the work because we already had setbacks compared to normal projects. Setbacks aside, the work was still hard. Some of my friends and I always ended up being tasked with collecting and moving rocks. After a couple of days, I was sore, tired, and covered in bruises, but looking at how happy and excited all the kids were about not only having us there, but finally getting a court to play on was my motivator.
When we weren’t working, we were spending time with the kids we were building the court for. They loved spending time with us, talking to us, and teaching us new games. Some of their favorites were cricket, dancing, freeze tag, and especially hand games. They would spend hours teaching so many different hand games to all of us and then making sure we had it mastered, and followed it up with us teaching them some from America. The best time I had with the kids, though, was when we finally had the court done. Not only were they excited to have the court to play on, they were excited for us to teach them how to play basketball. Some of my classmates and I had to make sure they were having fun and really understood the game.
A saying in Jamaica was “one coco, full basket.” In their own form of English, they explained that this meant that even if all you have is one coconut in your basket, your basket is still full. Even just being around all of those wonderful people showed me that they really exemplified this saying in their lives. They may not have had very much to live with, but they saw it as enough to keep their basket full, and they were happy. – Bayley
“One thing that is still just as confusing or even more confusing to me is why some people, no matter how beautiful their hearts are, intelligent their minds are, or honest their intentions are, are simply born somewhere else. Some are restrained and unable to show the world what they have to offer. What impresses me most about Jamaica though, is how this community refuses to let anything stop them.” – Teeba
“I learned that the way we do things in America is not the only way, or the best way. Other countries and communities have their own successful philosophy. Jamaican people are so welcoming and accepting of our differences. If all people treated each other as our community did this week, the world would be a better place.” – Gigi
“Before this trip, I never thought I could do this kind of work. I doubted myself left and right. When we finally got out there and started getting dirty, I started believing in myself.” – Dan
“I think this trip changed my perspective of relationships and real sincerity. Real relationships can start just because of a genuine smile. I am so grateful I was able to experience the love and friendship of Jamaica.” – Kate
“I learned that happiness is universal. Basically, a smile, laugh, or a conversation can go a long way. Friendship can be made in a day, but I learned from these beautiful people, that happiness strengthens those bonds.” – Bayley