So, six hours ago we were super stoked for round number three of the Appalachian Trail hike. The boys and I have completed New Jersey and are now onto New York with newbie Lindsey and second timer Kelsey.
Having started in Garrison, we are headed back to the NY/NJ border with a five day, four night plan.
But, NY obviously doesn’t like us. We have been poured on almost non-stop since the beginning and I felt like I jumped in a swimming pool. Although we hit a wall and didn’t get to our day’s destination, the tent is now set up along with tarps, we’re all in dry clothes and dinner will be started soon.
Maybe tomorrow we can start fresh and face the rain with a refreshed attitude.
PS my fingers and toes are pruned.
Rain, rain go awayyyyy
Living with a Jamaican family was probably the best part of this trip.
But what made it really special was that my family had never hosted before. Sam and I were so lucky to get that and be there for as long as we were; 12 days made all of the difference because it wasn’t until day seven that our little brother (age 3) finally got comfortable with us being there and that we had finally made a real connection with our family.
It is impossible to describe the love I had for this family, but the memories will stay with me forever.
Like when my mom told me-
“Tell your parents that you are in good hands.” (I knew I was)
“I would do anything for you hunny.” (She would and did)
Or when dad-
made me lemongrass tea everyday because he knew I loved it
knocked down and opened coconuts for us to try
roasted breadfruit for us to try
sat and had real conversations with me
when Marsha and Alicia-
asked me questions about America
had real conversations with me about boys
helped me answer my test questions
walked us home from the AOC
started playing with us
gave us hugs
got in trouble (poor kid)
when Dante, Nikara, and JJ-
would come over to play
especially play dominos
I love them and miss them. I wish I could talk to them more…
Jamaica was unlike any other trip I’ve ever taken.
12 days, 12 students, 1 professor, 1 mission.
Autism is a developmental condition growing in prevalence in the United States. It affects a person/child’s cognitive, social and communication skills on a spectrum of severity. We don’t know a lot about it, but we do know there is no cure; it does not go away.
Our mission was to educate the Jamaican community about Autism to help eliminate stigma by sensitizing (discussion). We took the approach of: this is what we know in the US, what do you see similar to this in Jamaica (because we believe it to be a global issue, but it may not look the same other places as it does in the US), and if this issue and the stigmas around it are not as (you as a community feel) they should be, then what do you want/can you do to change that?
We had these discussions with much prior thought and consideration.
Although introduced as “experts,” experts we were not (as 12 college undergraduate students with varying majors and interests). Many times they expected us to simply lecture (which we refused to do; instead, we facilitated discussions). But why should they listen to us? Why did they insist on listening to us? Among other groups of teachers and future teachers, why did they put us in front of a group of hand-picked high school students? Why were we expected to teach teachers that I guarantee have more experience with autism than I do? Was it simply because we were WHITE AMERICANS in a “third-world country” of BLACK JAMAICANS from a rural and poor community? Was it because we were “role models” or because we were white Americans in college? And if that is really why we were brought to Petersfield, Jamaica, then should we really be there? Is having groups of American students really good for the community of Petersfield? Maybe in terms of village tourism and supporting local businesses and families. But is that enough for the possible damage we are creating? On the other hand, we are the first group to be doing something like this. That is a big deal. But, is having students come in to paint schools and build things better? Why are Americans sent to Jamaica and is it really good for the community? And if it is good for the community, when will we be able to see the change we made? We can’t look at a classroom and say, “we painted that.” Will we get to see the influence we had; and will it be good or bad?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. But you have to understand, this trip was not just about being in Jamaica and seeing the beaches and enjoying the weather (although those things were great), it was about making a difference in a community, but doing so with the least amount of harm and most amount of consideration possible. We can make a bigger impact than we first thought was imaginable.
Foods of Jamaica <3
banana pancakes, curry chicken, jerk pork, dumplings, and soooo much more
Scenery from the beautiful places of Jamaica that I was fortunate enough to visit.
spent a day at the beach, and on the drive home from the Hamptons we got to enjoy a lovely sunset
Out on a friend’s boat in Stamford, CT for the day. Made burgers, caught some rays and I even got to drive it:)
One of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala <3
Hiking Pacaya on the first full day!