Welcome to Jamrock

Students give back to Jamaica during Intersession

Eleven students and two faculty members prepared themselves to say goodbye to a country that, in just a little more than a week, had gained a special place in their hearts.

Just 10 days earlier, this same group of University of San Diego students and faculty had said hello to the community of Logwood Walk in Duncans, Jamaica, with plans to make a difference. As part of a unique immersion opportunity during Intersession 2011, offered through the Center for Service-Learning office, participants were required to raise $2,000 each through fundraising and writing campaigns to bring a level of community service to Duncans.

Upon reaching the breathtaking views of Silver Sands beach, many participants realized the picturesque views were nothing in comparison to the beauty and opportunities the rest of Jamaica had to offer. “My trip to Jamaica gave me more than a classroom experience could,” said one student participant, Deanna Wolf ‘12.

The participants resided together in a house in Logwood Walk, while contributing to service opportunities at various locations throughout Duncans. Partnerships have been made with Duncans All-Age School, a first- through ninth-grade school. Through the funds raised prior to arriving to Jamaica, USD was able to donate computers for students to use.

USD students also spent time at St. James Pre-School and Trelawny Community Resource Center and Basic School. They visited Granville Girls Place of Safety, a safe space for young women to reside who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to return home. They installed street lights in the community of Logwood Walk and at the end of their trip, USD was recognized and acknowledged for their contribution to the community with a plaque from its members.

Opportunities for students to travel to Jamaica first began with the summer abroad trip established by the International Studies Abroad office, led by former USD Sociology Professor and Department Chair Rafik Mohamed and Carlton Floyd, co-director of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity and English professor. John Loggins, associate director of CSL, was quickly brought on after hearing that his years in the Peace Corps were spent in Jamaica. Together, their vision was to establish a program during Intersession that was not only academically satisfying but one that also had a strong community component, and this is where the service and immersion trips arose.

The Jamaica immersion trip is changing the idea of service but it is best put into words by Loggins, now the coordinator and faculty member on all Jamaica service trips: “Service is not the purpose. Service is a tool to connect with the community and to help the community connect with us.”

And this vision of service is evident throughout all partners involved in the experience. “I think it’s a testament to USD, certainly a testament to the generosity of the people in Jamaica, and ultimately a testament to the extraordinary work that members of the CASA family to provide opportunities for students to positively engage with and learn from the larger community, whether that community be in San Diego or abroad,” said Mohamed.

When asked what prompted them to get involved with this particular trip, most students mentioned that it was the testimonies of past participants that interested them. Wolf said that friends and family told her stories about how much they enjoyed Jamaica. “From what I heard they did not just travel to Jamaica, they lived and breathed in all the place had to offer. I wanted to do the same,” she said.

For others, it was the once-in-a-lifetime experience abroad that spoke to them. “One cannot truly be educated without being exposed to the vast diversity within our global community,” said Lovel Tokic ‘11.

But most importantly, such opportunities abroad allow students to challenge themselves and develop through lessons they will still be learning from years down the line. As Hanna Letchworth '12 put it, “Each moment is true and real. Living in the present is what you get from traveling to Jamaica.”

— Zamequa Lopez ‘11

Main photo by Tim Mantoani