In the summer of 2007 I had the privilege to travel to the island of Jamaica, and work in the mountain at Bethel Christian Mission. I traveled with the First Family Church that is in Ankeny Iowa. Our goal was to implement a leadership training session in the town of Newport Jamaica. Our leaders along with the camp director by the name of Dean Dawson contacted local high school guidance counselors to select two students in their school. The two students had to model exemplary traits in the area of leadership. From many high schools, came forty students, both male and female.
We separated into groups on the first day and had them share what they thought a leader was. We did various team building activities, such as the human know, trust circle, the cross over activity, and the rope races. We gave them scenarios that helped them individually identify their own leadership style. We showed them how they could apply their leadership styles, and their own personal strengths to help their school. We showed them what a leader does to help their fellow students, families, and their community. I had twelve young girls in my group and on the first day they were shy and were afraid to open up to me. By the end of the week they had smiles on their faces, and were ready to go back to school on monday and actually try to help better their school. With so much open violence in the schools it makes the learning environment hard, therefore causing many to not come to school, decreasing their chances to have a better life in the future. By placing students in each school who could help their student body, it not only helps them but their community, and the future generations to come.
This trip meant a lot to me because it made me realize how fortunate we are in America to have a safe learning environment. We do have strong leaders who are willing to help a student who is struggling in any area. We have teachers who have the opportunity to stay late and help as well. Unlike some teachers in Jamaica who have to walk six miles home to go and cook dinner and take care of many children.
Some things that did not work out in the end was having them realize that they can do anything once they set their minds to it. Many Jamaicans realize that their life will most likely be spent in a three mile radius. They cannot afford the equivalent of $2,000 american dollars. Which is the yearly tuition at the Universities in Kingston. Therefore they do not dare to hope. I know that I tried to get them to realize that hope and dreams can get anyone far in life as long as they truly believe in themselves. In the end I made twelve more friends, and many more memories. I hope to return to Jamaica and visit the schools to see the difference we made.
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