Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Edu-Tourism in Jamaica - Report #2

Hello friends and family!
I am pleased to offer the following report from our first week in Jamaica. As time allows I will be adding eye candy.

Monday, May 15, 2006 - From Philadelphia to Yallahs.
- Arrive in the Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston
- Stop at the Harbor View Centre for bank machine and Tastee Patties
- We were welcomed by news that Yallahs has been largely devoid of rain this year. We were instantly assailed by afternoon heat, remembering that we had left behind cool weather and rain in Philadelphia that morning. Driving east from Kingston, we peared out at a parched and dry southern Jamaican coast. The village of Yallahs is located between the Yallahs River and the two large salt ponds. Both of these bodies of water had dried up, revealing bare and dusty river and lake beds. Once we arrived at the Center for Global Understanding (Carleva Bay) it didn’t take long to change into our swimsuits and cool off at the beach.
- We also enjoyed our first meal of wholesome Jamaica food, prepared by Jay and Sophia Grant. Since we have four vegetarians (out of eight students) on the trip, we are enjoying fresh tropical fruits and vegetables in abundance.
- Watch this space for the first batch of photos, IMG_0946 to IMG_0969

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - Touring Yallahs and Morant Bay.
- Visit to Yallahs Basic School and discussion with Mrs. Grant.
- Drove past Duhaney Pen.
- Arrival for the first time in Morant Bay – Orientation at the Women’s Centre.
- Drive out to Rocky Point.
- Sunset from the road.
- IMG_0970 to IMG_1032

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - First full day at service sites.
- Wake up early and go for a walk out along the salt pond and back along the beach with Kingsley Keith (foreground), Anne, Jillian, Hazel.
- Cheraine and Mike accompany Anne and Casey to Yallahs Basic School.
- Mike gets in trouble for wandering away to take pictures at the regional school event at the Baptist Church across the street.
- Visit to Yallahs Branch of Public Library. Taxis into Morant Bay. Juicy Patties and Sim Cards for Anne and Mike’s phones.
- Was Mike too mean towards the taxi drivers? We are each able to ride back for 50 J. Depending on who you ask, the tyical fare for a route tax bus is 60 or 70 Jamaican Dollars
- Matthew and Jillian travel to Seaforth with representative from RADA.
- Ciarra, Hazel and Christianne spend the day teaching at the Women’s Center.
- IMG_1042 to MVI_1199

Thursday, May 18, 2006 - Second day at the service sites.
- Anne and Casey to Yallahs Basic School, where they have a planning discussion with Mrs. Grant. Route taxi van driver is mean to them.
- Jillian, Matthew and Cheraine are dropped at RADA; their supervisor left for the field at 9:00 am, so they hitch a taxi home.
- Women’s Center group, Hazel, Christianne and Ciarra, find themselves teaching again.
- Evening walk, Mike shoots his first videos. Mike gets in trouble for separating from the group off the beach-walkers, prefering to take the back route along the road, where he shoots more videos
- Students lead discussion of the first book: Anne Kopena on the report from the World Bank.

Friday, May 19, 2006 - Rain Day.
- This wound up being a lazy day. We were to take an excursion, but Mr. Garnet doesn’t arrive until 4:00 pm.
- Students entertain themselves pretty much all afternoon at Carleva Bay.
- No pictures.

Saturday, May 20, 2006 - Kingston Day.
- Since Mike doesn’t have a map, we meet up with Kingsley Keith, Nelson's brother who lives in Kingston. He guides us past Tuff Gong down to the Industrial Zone and finally the Craft Market. - Several hours spent at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Shown is a right-hand panel of the work by artist Christopher Clave called 'Blackboard #20.' Once you get a look at the entire work, you will realize that it depicts the souls of black people swimming like a school of fish - a metaphorical treatment of the middle passage.
- Fiasco of trying to find a vegetarian restaurant in Kingston as everyone is hungry from missing lunch. Eve Restaurant is closed because the owners are Seventh Day Adventists.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 - Recreation Day.
- Christianne and Casey leave at 7:00 am to accompany Jay on a trip with his middle school students to an all-inclusive resort on the way to Montego Bay.
- The other group travels with Garnet to Portland. First destination is Reach Falls, officially closed but then reopened by the guide (who has to be paid to bribe security to the looking the other way). Nelson demonstrates masterful skills of negotiation, resorting to the patois and gets the group in for 800 J.
- At the falls, Mike walks downstream while Anne and Cheraine walk upstream.
- Another group of Americans arrive. How much per head – 200 J?
- On the way out the group purchases woodwork and blow toys.
- We continue along the coast to Long Bay, which is also very relaxing.
- In the end, everyone reports having a good day.

Monday, May 22, 2006 - Site Day.
- 6:00 am walk down the beach with other students: Nelson, Anne, Jillian, etc. Watching the fishermen pulling the nets.
- The Morant Bay volunteers leave earlier this morning so that Matthew, Ciarra and Jillian can hook up with their supervisor for the day. They end up having a full day in the field.
- Christianne, Hazel and Casey have what they describe as a slow morning at the Women’s Centre. At noon they lave with some of the girls and get an interesting tour of Morant Bay. Ciarra buys a lot of food!
- Anne and Casey stay at Carleva Bay for the day since their basic school isn’t holding classes Monday. They wind up spending a good portion of the day playing with Renaldo, a young man who lives next door with his father, and Hyacinth’s daughter.
- Mike talks with Carol Marfisi by phone and tries to get office work done; writes letter of recommendation for Penny Richards; corresponds with folks at church.
- Evening walk along the salt pond with Hazel and Anne; exercises and painted sky.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - Jamaican Labor Day.
- Mike wakes at 4:00 am, to find other students already awake in their rooms.
- Rainstorm at 5:00 am.
- Labor Day in Jamaica is like Phila's Martin Luther King Day of Service.
- Two students volunteer at Jay Grant's church, where members of the community are painting and picking up trash.
- Mike spent time posting stories and photos to the Flickr site and Edu-Tourism blog.
- Novella and Mike discussed standards for student assessment. We will be collecting and commenting on student journals this week.
- This evening student presentations continue, with Hazel Carrera helping us to get to know Nancy Lopez's book Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys (Routledge, 2003).
- Mike is charged with the task of writing a sample critical reflection paper, that can be used as a model for students as they begin to consider the topic for theirs.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Edu-Tourism in Jamaica - Report #1

I have been traveling to the Parish of St. Thomas in Jamaica for the past three summers along with Nelson and Novella Keith, President and Secretary of Edu-Tourism, Inc. We provide university students with the opportunity to get involved in on-going service projects in this region. The NGO establishes partnerships with local organizations, trying to find interesting opportunities for students and ways that we might be able to help these organizations meet their goals. See coverage in the Temple Times for an overview.

On-going partnerships include the following
  • an initiative to place PCs in all of the basic schools of the parish, and to train the teachers at the basic schools so that the computers will be integrated into the curriculum. In this project we are supporting goals that have been articulated within the Ministry of Education in Kingston.
  • a partnership with the Women's Centre of Jamaica to improve the physical structure and expand the programming at the St. Thomas branch.
  • internships for our students with the St. Thomas offices of RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) and 3D Projects (Dedicated to the Development of People with Disabilities).
  • an initiative to promote the creation of bio-latrines and the education of the general population in the benefits of their use.

Students traveling this summer and next Spring 2007 will make significant advances on all of these projects. Eight Temple University students arrived in Kingston on Monday, May 15, and have already begun their service work. They will be doing research on schooling and development issues in the Caribbean region. Each will be keeping a journal of their experiences over the course of the trip, with a particular focus on the work that they are engaged in at their service sites. They will be sharing insights, comparing experiences, and linking their experiences to the theoretical perspectives that they find in their course textbooks. All of this said, this blog should not be understood as an 'official mouthpeice of Edu-Tourism, Inc. Instead, this is written through the eyes and experiences of one person, Mike Dorn, a Temple University professor of education with interests in geography and disability studies.

I will be sharing my thoughts and answering your questions over the next four weeks as I accompany these students on their internship experiences and travel to some of the more remote sections of the island. Please check this space regularly for the latest reports from the field, and consider communicating with us. Drop your comments by following the link to the lower left. I will answer them the next time I find myself in front of my computer. Thanks, Mike

Monday, May 01, 2006

Save Darfur: A rally against genocide

On Saturday morning, I loaded a 60-seat bus along with six other members of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia and headed south on I-95. We were traveling to Washington, DC to participate in a small but very important rally with the goal of bringing to an end the genocide currently being perpetrated against the black Muslim population in the Sudanese region of Darfur. On the way down to DC we viewed a video called 'A Million Voices for Darfur' and enjoyed an excellent lecture by Hans Wuerth, professor emeritus of German at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Dr. Wuerth first put Sudan into perspective. It is the largest country in Africa by area, 1/4 the size of the United States. Laid across the US Map, Sudan would stretch along the entire East Coast from Maine to Florida. The Darfur region is 1/5 of Sudan, equivalent to the size of France!

This region in Sudan is where the Arab Muslim world meets the Black Muslim world, and has experienced a long conflict between the nomadic pastoralists and the farmers of the Sahel. As more exploitative land use patterns have developed in this region, these two world have collided. The story brings to mind the conflict between farmers and ranchers in the American Great Plains, only in this case the national government has clearly taken one group's side: the ranchers. Young unemployed men were trained and armed to advance government aims in the region. This is the infamous Janjaweed, destroying the villages and sytematically raping the women of the region. Their actions where brought to the world's attention by Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain and observer to the African Union peacekeeping forces. His photographs show refugee camps being attacked by punks in helicopter gunships and a despairing population left in their wake.

The Save Darfur Coalition has derived much of its energy from an effective mobilization on college campuses, and the protest was remarkable for the the range of the participants' ages. Families with their children, high school and college students as well as elderly persons - each affirming that they would never let genocide happen again without protest. "Never Again!" or as Pres. Bush scrawled on the margins of a report on the Rwandan genoide, "Not on my watch!" As the Washington Post writer indicated, this was a protest that drew from across the political spectrum, African American leaders, Muslim and Jewish leaders as well as distinguished African speakers. Taking the lead in this effort have been two groups that know all too well the ways of means of genocide: The American Jewish and Armenian populations. I was particularly proud to see the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. William Sinkford, leading off with an ecumenical and apt prayer. Some of the 'stars' that spoke at the rally include Eli Wiesel, Rev. Al Sharpton, Barak Obama, and Nick and George Clooney.

I was blessed to be attending the rally with an energetic group of young UU activists. We have been talking about way to leverage the latent energy within our congregation to make a difference in our communities. Like the Sudan, Philadelphia has its own racial and class divides that we must be ever vigilant to overcome. Getting older and younger UUs on the same page is an important goal of our transition to a new settled minister at the First Unitarian Church. Now that we have active Young Adults and 35PLUUS groups, how do we set up mechanisms to coordinate joing activities? This trip to Washington was a sign of tangible collaboration, and I hope to witness more of it incoming months.

Since returning to Philadelphia, I have been speaking individually with my colleagues here that the Institute on Disabilities and they have been remarkably eager to make their feelings known. In Washington it was announced that so far 760,000 postcards have been delivered to George W. Bush. I'll be sending 10 more tomorrow. Let me share just one of these messages.



Dear President Bush,
Please express your humanity by doing everything that our country is able to do to stop the atrocities.
Sincerely yours, Carol Marfisi