Community Service Project to Jamaica – 3 Credits

Lend a helping hand, learn about yourself, different cultures, and community living

The community service project to Jamaica West Indies involves 16 days of cultural emergence for Rider University students during the break between Fall and Spring semesters. The experience, like most community service projects, maintains specific criteria:

  • It integrates curricular goals with community needs.
  • It is based on a reciprocal relationship in which the service reinforces and strengthens the learning, and the learning reinforces and strengthens the service.
  • It is integrated into the students’ academic curriculum and provides structures time for a student to think, talk, or write about what the student did and saw during the service activity.
  • It provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real life situations in their communities.
  • It enhances what is taught at Rider by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and helps to foster the development of a sense of caring for others.

Service learning at Rider, however, does not give credit for service; it gives credit for learning. Care is taken to allow ongoing thoughtful reflection of experience. Discussion sessions are held prior to the trip, regularly on site and upon return. There are required readings, keeping of a journal and a final reflective paper. Discussion topics include:

  • Examination of Jamaican culture and economy
  • Comparison of Jamaican to US culture
  • Examination of the role of religion in Jamaican culture
  • Exploration of the culture, philosophy, and religion of Rastafarianism
  • Examination of female/male roles in Jamaican culture
  • Exploration of Jamaican educational systems (based on the British system) with possible comparisons with students’ own teaching/learning experience in this country
  • Examination of the impact of poverty on education

Project Description
Participation in the Jamaican service learning project begins with 3 orientation seminars 6 weeks prior to the trip. During these sessions, expectations regarding service and expected cultural ambiances, learning goals are shared. Each participant is required to maintain a daily log of his or her experiences and are assigned selected readings from the required text. Final reflection papers, taken from the topics listed above, must reflect both the participant’s daily experience and the assigned readings.

Participants begin their immersion into Jamaican culture by spending their first 3 days in Kingston. They are housed at the United Theological College adjacent to the University of West Indies and are exposed to Jamaican urban life as well as university living Caribbean style. The experience also includes cultural enrichment trips to a Blue Mountain Coffee plantation, the Bob Marley museum, and local religious services.

After the first 3 days in Kingston, participants are transported to Pringle Home for children without families, located near High Gate in one of the rural provinces of Jamaica (St. Mary’s). Participants spend 5 days at Pringle Home living and working with children. During the day, participants serve as teacher aides and volunteers at the local elementary or secondary school supported by the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. After school, participants design and participate in enrichment activities for orphans. Additionally, they are encouraged to become actively involved with the people and social life of rural Jamaica. Depending on scheduling, this often includes an annual cultural festival in High Gate.

Following the Pringle Home experience, participants are transported to Oho Rios, where they work as teacher aides and volunteers for Iona School, a private elementary/secondary school also supported by the United Church of Jamaica. While in Ocho Rios, participants are given the opportunity to experience the culkture of “costal Jamaica”, with field trips such as Dunns River Falls and the home of Marcus Garvey.

For more information, please call:

  • Don Brown (Rider U. Multicultural Center) (609)-895-5781