During the final week of Winter break, fifteen Siena Saints partnered with the Franciscan Center For Advocacy and Service and set off to immerse themselves in island life. While on their week-long trip to Jamaica, the group spent days maximizing time to its fullest potential. From visits with local community members; to rehabbing churches, kitchens, and schoolyards; to spending time in local primary schools and soup kitchens; the Saints did it all.
“It was a rewarding experience being able to interact with the locals on a personal level and having the ability to being involved with projects that will affect the daily lives of those who have much less than us,” said Joe Gabriel ’22, one of three freshmen on the trip. “I am proud to say I have served on this service trip due to the positive responses we received from everyone in Jamaica and especially from the children in the local elementary schools that we worked at.”
The group spent time at three different elementary schools — Little Bay Primary, Negril All-Age, and Mount Airy Primary.
“Visiting the school was my favorite part of the trip,” said Julia Fleming ’21. “I had the opportunity to sit in a class and play with the children at recess. As a Spanish major myself, I was so impressed that 3rd-grade students were learning Spanish!”
Fleming also shared another highlight, the opportunity to attend Sunday Mass with the local community. “Participating in mass was such a heartwarming experience. During the peace be with you prayer everyone stood up and shook hands with the entire church community! They went out of the way to welcome to the Siena students to Jamaica.”
This trip was not all work and no play, however. On the final day of the trip, the Saints had the chance to relax and unwind and find the true meaning of “island time.” In the morning the crew took a chance on snorkeling, finding a boat straight off the beach and piling all in. This adventure allocated for a unique opportunity, for some of the crew's members had never been snorkeling before.
The second adventure of the day occurred at the world-renowned Ricks Cafe. This well-known tourist destination is known for its thrills, offering a range of different cliffs that visitors can jump off if they dare. While some of the group's members went for the thrills, other sat back and relaxed, watching the show from the cliffside pool.
Each member could agree that this trip is one that they will remember for a lifetime. From it, they claimed to have been rewarded with a perspective of the other side of the island life that one would not typically experience on a more personal trip to the Caribbean. One student claimed, “ I have met people whose impact will last a lifetime and I can only hope that my time there had some sort of influence as well, no matter how small it might have been.”