July 24, 2013
I still can’t believe that my GCELE Jamaica experience is over. Those 12 days went by so fast. I came into this thinking that we were going to Jamaica just to build a classroom. But, it was way more than that. It was about taking the time to be open minded to a completely new culture and reflecting on my own life. It was about learning how to put myself in the shoes of another person, and seeing things from their perspective. It was also about learning how to just live life to the fullest no matter what conditions we are living in. I learned all of these things, just by building a classroom with the youth of Jamaica and interacting with the children (also known as young adults).
After spending a few days in Canada I have started to feel happier about my life and I have begun to make even bigger goals for myself. After having discussions with the youth and children in Jamaica, I have found out that they have even bigger goals in life and they are way more determined than I was. They are the reason that I am pushing myself even harder to get to where I am going in life. They are the reason why I am now pushing myself to think positively on a negative situation. They are the reason why I am starting to learn that it is ok to have a bit of fun while working really hard. They reopened my eyes to see the beauty of life again. These young adults serisouly saved my life.
April 9, 2013
TEAM: people that come together to work towards a common goal.
Ever since the second pre-departure meeting I have been really excited to go to Jamaica with my team. After meeting the members of the Jamaica team we all seem to be on the same page about our journey to Jamaica, and we all seem to have a common goal in working towards global change. Even though we all just met we are beginning to learn little pieces about each other. Having the opportunity to get to know each other will make our communication as a team much easier, and it will help us all feel more comfortable. So, I am very blessed to travel to Jamaica with a team of very unique individuals, and I can’t wait for July 6 to come.
GOOOOOOO TEAM JAMAICA!! *Crazy Cheerleader Scream*
March 23, 2013
There was a common quality amongst the young Jamaican women I met, and that was their naturally exuberate confidence and creativity. During the GBELP sessions, the girls really took a liking to the activities that involved creating skits, the monologue that they would come up with on the spot was impressive and captivating, and it was full of humour and very entertaining. These young women are greatly knowledgeable of the economical and political issues that affect Jamaica. They do not hesitate to express their opinion and demonstrate great passion for what they believe in. Their love for music was felt throughout the entire length of our trip; it was a way to tell their story, relate to one another and feel liberated.
Some of the resilient Jamaican women told their story of how in the past, they were not as confident or great public speakers, which really impacted me. I found it hard to believe that for someone to be so confident and charming, it was not an innate trait. Yet, it was something that they worked through with practice and courage, and I am a witness that this simple tactic truly worked for them. We can lack or overflow in confidence, but if we are not aware that we have the power of choice within us to change circumstances, not even the slightest change will occur. We posses the choice to break malignant cycles, to think outside the norm and challenge ideologies that we have grown accustomed to and choose to act on it. One of the many Jamaican women I esteem, Sophia, once said- “choices, not circumstances, determines one’s success”.
March 19, 2013
by Sarah Lilah Sarwary
It’s been more than a week since I arrived back from Jamaica and the nostalgia & cultural withdrawal has kicked in. While riding the bus, taking a walk, sitting in a lecture room, or even falling asleep I visualize moments of the trip. I smile mostly, and reminisce about the life-changing conversations we had, the wisdom we had a chance to gaze at, and the beauty of the country. Many friends have exclaimed their jealousy and wish they could have gone to Jamaica. Some fantasize about going on trips to the Caribbean, or having the opportunity to partake in such programs. I lived it, and until this day I can feel the cool Jamaican breeze on my skin, the smell of ackee saltfish & festivals, the huge smiles on everyones faces regardless of who you were, and the peace and love I felt there. Here is a short poem given to me by Dr. Guntley from the Ministry of Tourism, who went out and beyond to ensure this was an unforgettable experience.
“There’s a vibe. A feeling Perchance, something in the air that has always set Jamaica apart from any other experience. But it’s hard to put your finger on anything specific without trivializing the sum of the whole. You can start to verbalize it with tales of waterfalls and mountains, and music and a little roadside stand and- wait, that’s it. The little roadside stand. Tucked away on a one lane road in the jungle. Where you sucked on some lychee berries. And smiled back the name of the local woman who lives there. It’s that moment, when the sounds and the tastes and the people replaced everything else in your life. It’s that moment, and hundreds like it that loses something in translation to a co-worker. Or a friend on the phone. Unless they’ve been. Then they know. That what you brought back doesn’t fit into a suitcase or a backpack. It fits into something less tangible yet oh so important, your heart, your soul, your mind. That’s why you go back.
Once you go, you know.”
March 12, 2013
I’ve been back home now for two days. It’s a bittersweet feeling as I am glad to be home and back with my family, and I am also missing Jamaica. Today and yesterday I was thinking about what I was doing last week this time, boy I had no idea I would be missing it this much. I established relationships with some pretty awesome young women both with the Centennial team, and the University of West Indies team, and of course the high school participants. Each day brought a new lesson to the participants and also the youth leaders that facilitated. We laughed together and we cried together. I was left exhausted and drained both physically and emotionally by the end of the week. It felt refreshing as I gave myself entirely into the Girl Bawse Empowerment Leadership Program, and the work will continue as we plan to expand Girl Bawse to Toronto.
I am at a loss for words thinking about our faculty team, Kisha, Yasmin, Chet and Lynn. These members worked tirelessly to ensure that Girl Bawse was organized and executed successfully, and it was with the help of six resilient young women, Sarah, Lesley, Amanda, Natalia, Victoria and myself. We all collaborated in sync especially with the UWI team. I will miss every moment. I have a deep sincere gratitude for Janet, O’neal and the gracious Dr.Carrol Guntley. Together they made it their mission to ensure that we see the true beauty of Jamaica and its vibrant culture. I myself learned a lot and was empowered. I finally can say that I am living a dream, I feel so blessed. I have a personal responsibility to carry out the duties of a true “Girl Bawse”. This trip was only the beginning for something great to many young women to come. Together we are “Breaking The Cycle To Empower Girls”!
Jamaica, once you go, you know!