Christina Poulsen - Teaching English & Other Subjects in Jamaica
Two months ago I was sitting in a plane on my way to Jamaica, not really having any idea of what to expect. I was very nervous and excited at once, as it would be my first time away from home for such a long period.
Now I am in Jamaica and what I am planning to do won’t be easy. Let me tell you about my stay thus far; my volunteering projects, my experiences - everything. But I know it’s possible to describe in wonder, and if I should tell everything I want to, this would be a never ending story, as such I will relate only the highlights of my stay.
When I arrived in Jamaica, I was introduced to my host family as one of the first things. They welcomed me with open arms - at first it felt awkward to be in a stranger’s house, but that feeling quickly evaporated. My initial feeling was an acute sense of being overwhelmed, to be in another country so far from my own home. The first night I could have cried. I thought to myself that I would not last for three months. But all these thoughts came before I met the Jamaican people, the loving children at the orphanage and the school, the other volunteers and last but not least the Projects Abroad Staff.
I could not have asked for a better welcome from the office. They made me feel like I was definitely not alone and the other volunteers as well. I soon forgot all the bad thoughts I previously had, because now looked forward to the smiling faces that would be in Mandeville saying, “Morning darling, wah gwaan”
Quickly I came into a daily routine; I would work until noon, stop by the office to say “hi” and just socialise with the other volunteers. I was told that Mandeville was not the town for quality entertainment but every day I found something interesting to do and it always surprised me that the day always seemed to end rather quickly.
I have experienced so much in a short time; my work at the orphanage has made a very big impression on me. I worked there for five weeks and after a week, I felt as if I knew all of the children and that we have a special bond. It was very hard saying good bye to the children at the orphanage when it was time for me to leave; as such I made a conscious effort to give them all the love I could in the few months I would be volunteering.
After my Care Project at the Children’s Home; I started a Teaching Project at the Primary and Junior High School, and I am currently there (at the time of writing this story/article) I can’t say which of the projects I liked the most, they are each special in their unique way. Teaching at the school is a challenge. I teach and assist in different classes, from grade four to grade nine. Even though it can be difficult, I really love being there as the teachers are very kind to me and the students are so special, many of them are way behind and sometimes I have to repeat myself over and over, which can be frustrating at times. On the other hand being in the classroom gives me so much joy, to their smiling faces and the questions they ask is something one would have to experience for themselves.
Being a volunteer is not something I considered for a long time. Actually it was very sudden impulse. I’ve always wanted to see other parts of the world, to go travelling after school as a sort of transition between graduating from school and deciding what the next big step would be. Travelling comes in many forms; I decided to travel as a volunteer to get first-hand knowledge of a country and its culture.
Now I have absolutely no doubts that being a volunteer in Jamaica was the right choice. I know some might reason that three months of volunteering is not much to make a huge difference, but knowing that I have been giving my love and support to a few kids who really need it, is enough of a difference for me.
Also, I have come so close to another culture, and no one could possibly have explained to me what living in this country would be like, at first the culture shock was a bit much, but honestly it’s a good one. I became an integral part of the community, if someone had told me that before, I probably would have laughed at them, now Jamaica feels like my home. Writing this article about my experience, really cannot describe how grateful and lucky I am to have had this experience; my wish is that everyone could come to Jamaica and have this experience.
This was just my little story to give you all an idea of what it was like to be here in Jamaica. In my own head I will always remember every second of my stay, because it has been some of the best months in my life.