Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunrise over the salt pond

We have been bringing groups of students to St. Thomas for five years now. For the first two groups, accommodations were arranged at a hotel in Morant Bay. For the past four years, however, the students have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the rural landscape around Yallahs. The villa purchased by Novella and Nelson Keith in 2005, now known as Carleva Bay, is located in a neighborhood known as Pondside because it is curls around the end of a large salt pond. Every summer I find it difficult to say goodbye to Jamaica and to return to the United States and mornings like these are part of the reason why.

Certainly there is important work to be done at Temple University promoting the Disability Studies and Urban Education Programs. But our work in Jamaica is also valuable and reenergizing. The history of the Midatlantic is linked in so many ways to the Caribbean, through trade and through self-definition. Jamaica retains historic ties to Africa that are merely rhetorical for many of our Philadelphia residents. I have enjoyed getting to know the diverse society supported by the island. But I also recognize that in order to gain an even broader appreciation for the story, I will also need to make a trip to Africa. Or Haiti?

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