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Archive for the ‘Stage 2: Preparing for the Journey’ Category

Seriously, what do you pack for a five month trip to a developing nation where you KNOW that you will not want to buy things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and make-up?

How many pairs of shoes weight 50 pounds and should I wear skirts everyday or will the occasional pair of capris be fine for teaching? And what about swimsuits? After all, I’m going to Jamaica…so of course I’ll need LOTS of swimsuits! And then there were the four boxes of books, videos, and DVDs that I was allowed to take and leave at Sam Sharpe. How do I choose from the hundreds of possibilities and decide which teaching materials would be most beneficial to the Sam Sharpe lecturers?

I thought that four suitcases would be adequate…then it became five…then six…and eventually seven. I wanted to bring a few pictures from home, teaching supplies that I didn’t think I would be able to get in Jamaica for a good price, things like colored paper, liquid paper, a stapler and staples an of course, a variety of sticky notes. My Vera Bradley blotter calendar and matching note paper would give me a taste of home and at the last minute my husband and I decided that I should buy a small back-up computer and printer. Those were two of the best purchases made.

And then there was my scuba gear, including my wet suit, my flute, some quilting supplies, books, Bibles, my kindle, clock radio, and the list could go on and on. But I was able to pack everything into suitcases that either one of my students, my husband or I would bring to Jamaica. How I will get everything home remains to be seen. Perhaps I will leave many of the things I brought with my new Jamaican friends and colleagues.

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I have loved taking students from Trinity Christian College to the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf for a week each January. I began working on our trip each March and put the finishing touches on my work each December. I would meet with my team of students four times during the fall semester to prepare them for entering both Jamaican and Deaf culture for a week, to gel as a team and to do Bible study and prayer together so that our hearts were prepared for our work. I was teased mercilessly by some colleagues that I was taking another “Jamaican vacation” but I knew how much time and energy I invested in this interim trip each year and I knew the impact that it was having on my student’s lives and the lives of the students and teachers at CCCD. As a college, we brought many new teaching strategies and materials to the school and eventually began to take the children on a field trip each year. CCCD loved Trinity and Trinity loved CCCD.

So when I looked at the Fulbright Scholarships book that crossed my desk for the fourth year and decided to apply to work in Jamaica, I really didn’t fully understand the implications of leaving my family and home for five months rather than one week. Nevertheless I began the application process, which was almost a two year ordeal. There were numerous hurdles to jump including finding a college to sponsor me (I wanted one in Montego Bay, near CCCD), getting three letters of reference, getting a police report, writing two lengthy essays on who I was and what I hoped to accomplish with my Fulbright Scholarship and filling out the application form itself. Once I found out that Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, which is right down the road from CCCD, would write me a letter of acceptance, the largest hurdle was crossed. Now all I had to do was sit back and wait.

Several months passed and I learned that I had been accepted provisionally but would not be officially accepted into the Fulbright program until I received final approval both from the US Embassy in Washington DC and the US Embassy in Jamaica which is located in Kingston.  Again I waited with mixed emotions. Did I really want to leave my husband, children, dog, home, church, friends and family for that long? What was I thinking? My husband was a source of encouragement throughout the entire process and believed that if accepted, God had great things in store for me.

So when I received the congratulatory letter from the Fulbright Association informing me that I had been officially accepted as a Fulbright Scholar I had very mixed emotions. Receiving a sabbatical from Trinity continued to confirm to me that this was something I was supposed to do but my heart was still torn. But I knew what I had to do and that was to accept the Fulbright Scholarship and prepare to spend five months teaching at Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College in Granville, St. James, Jamaica.

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Am I ready to spend 4-5 months teaching Deaf Education and Special Education at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, Jamaica, via a Fulbright Scholarship?  Well, I’ve sent four boxes of textbooks, videos and DVDs to the embassy in Kingston, began thinking about exactly how many pairs of sandals, cotton skirts, t-shirts, and swim suits I really need for my time in Jamaica, and purchased a backup computer and small personal printer.  My suitcases are half full already and I don’t know if there is any way that I can fit everything I think I will need in the two suitcases that I will be taking and the additional two that Rick, my husband, will be bringing one week later.  I know how expensive it is to purchase things as taken for granted as shampoo in Jamaica so I continually make lists in my mind of everything I might need (or is it want) for the next 4 months of my life.  Whatever ends up in my suitcase by January 9 will make its home in Jamaica until May 11.

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