EQB beyond Sewanee: Sewanee students learn and volunteer in Jamaica

By Dixon Cline
Staff Writer

Over the winter break, seven students and two staff members journeyed to Jamaica for an outreach trip. Undergraduates Pravesh Agarwal (C’23), India Tisdale (C’21), Taela Bland (C’22), Calid Shorter (C’23), Callan Ghareeb (C’20), Monae Scott (C’23), and Josse Martinez-Rosales (C’23) were led by Dixon Myers, the associate director of the Office of Civic Engagement, and Sarah Thompson, working for the Geographic Information System, in the  Trench Town district of Kingston, Jamaica. The Association of Episcopal Colleges suggested the Kingston location. 

Myers, the leader of the Jamaica Outreach trip, said that the trip “has been going on for 30 years,” originating as “a short term civic engagement trip.”

Students interested in participating in the outreach trips organized by the Office of Civic Engagement should note that there are a limited number of available spots, and it is a months-long process. Myers stated that trips are advertised months in advance and that after the application and selection process, students are expected to meet once a week for 10 weeks in order to learn about the history and culture of where they are going and the types of community services they will be providing. Myers compared the preparation towards the Jamaica outreach trip to preparing for studying abroad; however, during the outreach trip, students are constantly engaged in community service. 

As found on the website for the Office of Civic Engagement, “trips cost anywhere from $150-$2000,” but there is need-based financial aid available. Students that participate in the outreach trips are expected to work to raise funds for their respective trips.

The Jamaica Outreach Trip was primarily focused on tourism and economic development in Trench Town, a culturally significant but economically depressed community in Kingston. Trench Town is famous for housing the foundations of Reggae music, in addition to the iconic musician, Bob Marley. One such tourism program the outreach trip contributed was the creation and operation of a website for the Culture Yard Museum, www.ttcultureyard.com. The Culture Yard Museum is an organization that has partnered with the outreach trip in order to help increase tourism in Trench Town as well as maintain the history of the area.

Jamaican outreach trip students also developed two interactive online maps of Trench Town. The stories detailed in the Trench Town map serve to explain the cultural history of sites in the area and is used primarily by tourists, but it can still be useful for the locals of Trenchtown. The Government Yards Walking Tour map lists cultural, educational, and commercial resources in the district.

Myers reported the outreach trip as a success, and such trips are available to students interested in hard work and being exposed to new lands. For more information regarding similar trips and activities, keep checking your email and the Office of Civil Engagement website at www.sewanee.edu/offices/oce.