Archive for the ‘Stage 9: Celebrating the Victories’ Category

So how are you celebrating this year’s St. Patrick’s Day? If I was in Chicago the river would be green and on 111th street the Irish bars would be hopping. My good friends David and Sherry Barnes would be cheering for their dear Notre Dame if it was football season and if I were still in grade school or high school I would be wearing orange with my best friend, Barb De Boer. We decided early on that we did NOT march to the beat of most other drummers and would wear orange each St. Patrick’s Day…and we did.

But here in Mo Bay I wouldn’t have even known that it was St. Patty’s Day except that I was laying by the pool reading (my afternoon delight!) when I heard the sound of bagpipes wafting my way from across the street. When I went into my condo and looked at my calendar I was reminded that today was indeed THE day to be Irish. I walked over to The Twisted Kilt, the Irish bar and restaurant across the street and sure enough the party was in full swing. Everyone had a green beer in hand, green clothing on or at least green hair or green spray paint on their bodies and the Irish music was blaring.

Will I get any sleep tonight…it’s doubtful. I know from living on the hip strip for two months that any reason for a party means a party that may go until 3 or 4 in the morning and I’m sure tonight will be no exception! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of my Irish friends, friends who wish they were Irish and friends who are pretending to be Irish at least for today.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.








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How fortunate I am to be in a country for both my sabbatical and my Fulbright Scholarship that allows me to pursue my newfound passion for scuba diving. When I am donning my dive gear I still feel nervous anticipation but once I jump into the water and regulate my ears as I make my way to the ocean floor, excitement floods my soul.

What will I see that I can only see by donning my scuba gear? What colors and textures will heighten my senses? How will the extreme quiet that surrounds me when in the deep restore my soul and reinvigorate my being? And what will I learn new about myself while swimming with sea creatures and among the reefs?

Well Dive Seaworld did it again by providing me with an excellent scuba experience. I went out in choppy waters again but once underneath the sea everything was tranquil and beautiful. My driver, Fox, and dive master, Jay took me and the son of the owner of Dive Seaworld to an extraordinary coral reef teeming with fish that were of all colors, shapes and sizes. We saw two flounder that blended in with the sand as they swam at the bottom of the ocean and more types of coral than I have ever seen. My ears regulated fairly easily and my mask was much more comfortable than during the last dive.

Our 40 minute dive seemed like forever but I am becoming more and more comfortable with the dive experience and look forward to diving in Port Antonio next month. Thanks again Dive Seaworld and Jay in particular for another extraordinary experience!

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Jamaica Day occurs at the end of February and as part of the celebration of that event, every school in Jamaica, from elementary schools through colleges, holds a Sports Day.

Governor-General His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, has said that the celebration of ‘Jamaica Day’ in schools is an ideal way to instil the spirit of nationalism in citizens that is necessary for the social development of the country.

“Jamaica Day provides a good opportunity for all Jamaicans to partner with young people to help define and create the most suitable context within which Jamaicans can be the best example of humanity, first to Jamaicans and ultimately to the rest of the world,” he stated.

The Governor-General was reading the proclamation declaring February 26, 2010 at Jamaica Day, during a brief ceremony at King’s House in Kingston. The staging of Jamaica Day within schools is one of the flagship projects of the Culture in Education Programme of the Education Ministry.  He said that now is an opportune time to enhance the profile of Jamaica Day, and therefore broaden national participation in the activities in order to align with national development objectives.

The Governor-General commended the program and supporting agencies for the level of enthusiasm and interest shown in “branding Jamaica in the hearts of our children,” noting that it is very important “that each Jamaican has a vision of what it is to be a Jamaican, not just in terms of being born here, but also what is involved in being a good citizen.”

Jamaica Day’ is celebrated once every academic year, on the last Friday in February and is designated to showcase aspects of Jamaica’s culture through the performing arts, visits to historical sites, sporting activities and recognition of outstanding citizens.

Last week CCCD had their Sports Day and this week Friday, Sam Sharpe held their annual Sports Day.

There were four houses at Sam Sharpe, red, blue, green and yellow and students and faculty wore the appropriate colored shirt for their assigned house. In addition to sporting events there were also cheerleading competitions and dance competitions. The students and staff take this event so seriously that even student teachers are given the day off of student teaching to participate.

Unfortunately Sports Day was an incredibly hot day and by the time it started (around 12:00) it was REALLY hot…but students still gave it their all and cheered on their house. Perhaps between eating less food, walking every day and generally staying very active, it is easy to understand why almost all Jamaican youth are so fit. America could certainly learn a lesson or two from Jamaican youth: eat more fruits and vegetables (and an occasion pattie), walk every day and hold an annual Sports Day!

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The genesis of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs is strongly linked to that of its’ parent body, the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) as it was during the JAS’ era of growth and development that this baby was born.

That was over 60 years ago. Today the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, which now has over 35,0000 “clubites”, is a force to be reckoned with, as it is highly considered as the leading youth organization on the island.

The JAS in the 1940’s declared as its major objective the training of farmers in good farming techniques. In its efforts to achieve this, a staff comprising of agricultural instructors and supervisors was created, which would become responsible for training and encouraging farmers to adopt new, improved and modern techniques and skills in various farming practices.

On Thursday afternoon I had the opportunity to see the 4-H celebration of St. James Parish that was held at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf. Every elementary, high school and college in the parish is invited to participate and set up a booth displaying their work. The theme was “pumpkins” so I saw pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, and even pumpkin wine. In addition there were displays related to gardening, sewing, cooking and arts and crafts.

The surprise of the day was an appearance by Michael Jackson (at least a pretty decent impression of him). The kids followed him around the campus and then he performed several songs and dances at the closing ceremonies.

The traditionally tranquil campus was both chaotic and exciting as children and young adults from all over the parish vied for the trophies that would be awarded at the end of the day.

The time finally came to award the winners in each event and school spirit was in abundance. As each awardee’s name and school was called out, cheers erupted in the crowd. The students also heard from an agricultural expert that asked how many in attendance were planning on becoming farmers. Not surprisingly, only a few hands came up. Then when he asked how many wanted to become doctors, lawyers or accountants, almost every hand went up. He encouraged the students to consider farming as a future profession and reminded the students that everyone needs to eat so there will ALWAYS be a need for farmers.

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One thing that I can count on every day except Sunday is seeing Hazel and her large basket of fruits and vegetables at the base of the winding staircase that takes me from the second floor of the Montego Bay Club to the street level or the hip strip. Like clockwork she shows up with her fresh produce and by the end of the day her large basket is relatively empty.

I’ve come to rely on being able to get fresh fruit and vegetables every two days or so which is wonderful because then nothing spoils. One day I might purchase two bananas and a tangerine and the next a pineapple (cut by Loretta and ready to eat) and an orange. Today I purchased not only several pieces of fruit but also fresh lettuce and tomatoes for a salad tomorrow. Am I spoiled? Yes!

Part of the fun of buying my produce from Loretta is that I meet people from around the world who are staying either in El Greco, The Montego Bay Club, Court Manor or one of the other nearby hotels. Today I met a couple from Italy who were struggling with the currency exchange…from Euro to US to Jamaican. I finally offered to pay the difference in American cash since Loretta was having a difficult time communicating with them. Monday I may again meet again one of the many Canadian couples that I meet daily around the pool and Tuesday it may be a family from England. Oh the joys of living in Montego Bay!

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I am living in a paradise and from time to time need to take the time to enjoy this fabulous experience that has been given me. I need to take the time to pause, reflect on where I have been and where I am going, taking time out of my busy schedule to enjoy the ride.

Most days Montego Bay feels just like home to me. Though I know when at Sam Sharpe I am the only white person, it just doesn’t matter. In fact today I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow lecturer and she was sharing how much a friend of her that was Dutch was like Jamaicans. I told her that I too was Dutch and she exclaimed, “Well that explains it…that’s why you fit in so well.” I don’t really understand it but I can accept it, though it does perplex me a bit.

Walking down the ‘hip strip’ to pick up groceries or go to the beach, or maybe even when I splurge and eat at one of the many restaurants, I’m beginning to be recognized by both shopkeepers and the guys that work the beach. I woman that sells fruit at the bottom of my staircase now knows that I like bananas and tangerines and Debbie, my manicurist always stops to say hi. Every time I am recognized I think, “How cool is this that I’m beginning to know not only the people at CCCD but other Jamaicans as well.”

But I’m also poignantly aware of the fact that I have not made as much progress in promoting service-learning at Sam Sharpe as I hoped I would have by now. I wanted student teachers to be working on service-learning projects in their schools and communities and fellow lecturers to embrace service-learning pedagogy, and that has not happened; but not for a lack of trying. But then, just perhaps, this semester is not really about service-learning at Sam Sharpe at all. Perhaps it is more about MY service-learning experience and what I am learning about who I am and how I operate in this world. My experiences and subsequent reflections via this blog are clarifying and making real this journey; and that may be the greatest gift of all!

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For me, part of “celebrating the victories” is becoming comfortable living in downtown Montego Bay, Jamaica. This week I had my first visitor, the mother of my new daughter-in-law, Becky, Val Neil. She had the opportunity to see and experience so many of the sounds, smells, tastes and places that her daughter, Becky has been talking about for years.

It was so much fun to share church “The Meeting Place”, Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf and Doctor’s Cave Beach Resort with her. But perhaps the most fun we had together was experiencing all of the unique and wonderful restaurants in Montego Bay. We even had the opportunity to buy fresh fruit from the women who sells it daily at the bottom of the stairs where I live.

The first night after Val arrived we enjoyed a seafood buffet on the Beach at The Groovy Grouper. Mrs. Russell, principal of CCCD, joined us and we enjoyed fresh grilled seafood, salad with mango/ranch dressing, shrimp alfredo and a myriad of other wonderful island tastes, all washed down with our Red Stripe beers. What is interesting is that this is the second beer that I have had in my life and I rather enjoyed it.

We also enjoyed eating at Margaritaville, a Montego Bay icon, and then went from there to Coral Cliffs to enjoy the reggae band.

We also enjoyed hamburgers at The Twisted Kilt, jerk chicken from the Pork Pit and patties from the local supermarket.

We ate well, enjoyed reading our books both by the pool and on the beach and got to know each other very well. It was a very good weekend!

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