The worldwide Augustana College experience

Alexandra Madison
February 27, 2017
Jamaica Blog Post

Knutsford Hotel- Kingston, Jamaica

As we we near the end of the Kingston portion of our trip, I have begun to reflect on all of the different experiences I have had while being here. My first thoughts as we drove through Kingston were ones of fright and interest. The traffic is some of the craziest I have ever ridden in, and the way the city looks is also new to me. I have been in a few larger cities in the U.S. and Kingston does remind me of some of those, but I had never before seen a city where nearly every single building had a gate/wall of some sort around it. I related this to the higher rate of crime within the area and the increase in population. I was also intrigued by the restaurant situation. Many of the restaurants we have visited looked sketchy from the outside, but then lovely once you were past the gate. I am used to “curb appeal” in America! The restaurants and museums have been great and I definitely feel more culturally aware as I continue to experience Kingston!

The experience in Kingston I hold most dear is the Primary school. I was able to sit in on a 3rd grade classroom at the Alpha Primary School and teach a short review lesson. I was first surprised by the abundance of children in just one classroom (38 kids!) and then presently surprised by the excellent teaching I had the opportunity of observing. The teacher was excellent, and though she did do some things in a different way than I am used to (more Executive teaching and rote memory), many of her teaching styles and personality were similar to my own and teachers I have observed back in the U.S. I loved getting to know children from a different culture, how they learned differently, and how in many ways they were just the same as children in America. They asked the same questions (are you married?, do you have kids?, what is your favorite color?) and got in trouble for talking to loudly or rough housing. I wish we had more time with the kids as I felt I was just beginning to get to know them and understand them as students, but alas we are moving on to the next stop in our trip! The Alpha school was such a wonderful experience and one I will not soon forget!

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Jewel Resort

Our time at the Jewel Resort was amazing! This is my first time traveling to a different country and staying at an all inclusive resort. The atmosphere was so relaxing and carefree. Our first night there, we had dinner on the beach. There was a wide variety of food choices and endless drinks. After dinner, we spent the rest of the night in the lobby listening to a pianist. Here, my fellow classmates, Dr. Egan, and I partook in a sing along/ karaoke. After our interesting show of off-tune singing and outdated dance moves, the rest of the guests in attendance would surely never forgot Augustana College.

The next day, we had breakfast and headed right for the beach. I have never seen a more beautiful sight than that of the ocean on a bright, sunny day. I actually felt like I was in paradise. Some of my fellow classmates and I spent the whole day snorkeling, sailing, walking the beach, etc. After we ate dinner, we went to the bar to take advantage of free drinks. This turned out to be a great decision because it introduced us to a bartender who would provide us with great company.

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Jewel Resort: People Watching

Much of my time in Runaway Bay was spent people watching (creepy as that may sound).  It’s one of those things I find myself incapable of not doing.  Whatever situation I am in, if I am doing nothing else you can bet I’m looking at the faces of those around me; you can infer a lot about people jut by watching them closely. In this particular instance, I found myself watching the workers at our resort, how they interacted with each other, how they interacted with the guests at the resort, how they went about their work.  The difference, I noticed, was in their interactions with their coworkers and with the guests.  With their coworkers they were genial, jocular.  And why not?  These were people that worked together, day in and day out.  Some of them might have  been neighbors, friends.  With the guests it was different.  Anyone who has had the displeasure of working in the service industry will probably see  a bit f themselves in the following description.  The workers, with a few exceptions, were distant, not cold necessarily, but impersonal.  This  last word I think is key; impersonal, acting in a way that does not hint at their personhood, their humanity.  The guests for their part reciprocated, acting genially with each other,but impersonal towards the workers.

I wondered about this.  Why were these two groups of people who share the same world and the same beating heart so content to ignore one another?  Was this behavior peculiar to this one tropical resort?  This city?  This country?  I find myself tending to answer no to all of the above, although the behavior was likely exacerbated in this case by issues of race, class, and national identity.  The fact is, in the context of the global economy, we all act this way to one another.  When I visit a restaurant, I am served my food by a waiter, not a person who happens to be waitering.  I do not think the difference is trivial.  The person, for as long as our interaction is sustained, casts aside their humanity.  In turn I cast aside mine.  We each assume our respective mantle, waiter and customer.  We treat each other not as people but as economic machines each extracting value from one another.  Once the extraction is complete we part ways, likely never to think about one another again, likely never to ponder humanity of the person from whom we extracted value.  It is painful to have one’ humanity removed, even if it doesn’t seem it.  And it is likely not without consequence.

Blog 1: 50% of Your Normal Consumption

The fact that we were told to reduce our alcohol consumption to 50% of what we normally consume, makes it very ironic that two of my best interactions with Jamaicans so far have been with bartenders that I have met at the Jewel Runaway Bay resort.


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First Blog Post

We just got to New Kingston and I have had time to reflect on my time at the resort. On the way driving to the resort we saw a cat get run over and it was sad. There were also many goats and dogs roaming the sides of the road. The resort was really great. I had a wonderful experience getting to swim in the ocean, snorkel, and play on the beach. It was awesome getting to look under the water and see all of the colorful blue and yellow fish, coral, and sea urchins. All of the people at the resort were very nice and hospitable. We got to sing along with the piano player for awhile and that was really fun too. The food was very good, especially the French toast, and the made to order wraps. There was also a delicious coconut cream layer cake that very delicious as well. We also got to have dinner in the hotel restaurant where the food was served on blocks of wood, dumptrucks, Mr.Potato heads, and other cool and creative dishes. On Tuesday, we went on a grand adventure to the Green Grotto where we explored in a cave. These caves were used by slaves to escape from their masters, and pirates also used the caves to harvest ammunition for their weapons. In the caves we saw bats, spiders, and snakes including the Jamaican Boa. The cave had some difficulties to it such as steep slopes, and small holes that we had to crawl through to get out. There was also a giant lake that you could see all the way to the bottom of on account of the water being so clear. On Wednesday we drove to New Kingston and stopped at the Seville house on the way. There was a creek with a tiny waterfall, pigs, puppies, and little lizards. We walked around barefoot in the creek for awhile before getting back in the car and driving for awhile before we stopped at a bank to get Jamaican money and arrived at the hotel.

Anna Dispensa- blog #1

After a long day of travel, we arrived in the Montego Bay airport on Monday evening! The first two days in which we spent at the jewel resort in Runaway Bay Jamaica have been jam packed but so much fun! The first day at the resort, we hit the beach bright and early! The water was absolutely amazing. The multiple shades of blue were so vibrant and watching the waves roll over and break at the shore was soothing. I greatly enjoyed walking down the beach. While the resort was impressive, it was cool to see the vendors and huts beyond the resort. We were able to walk all the way to the tip of the island providing us with a panoramic view of the island.

After our walk, Dr. Egan and Dr. J. took us to the runaway caves where slaves would hideout when escaping. At first, I was really nervous because I’m terrified of bats and spiders, but thanks to our guide, I was able to enjoy the caves. It was really interesting to hear the stories about what it was like for slaves hiding out in these caves. One piece of information that particularly struck me was the fact that the slaves did not use torches but instead descended into the caves in complete darkness to avoid being discovered. Upon telling us this, the guide turned out all of the lights and had our group find our way back up the stairs in pitch black darkness. This was not an easy task, but really helped me to realize some of these struggles faced by the slaves. Also in the caves, we saw a snake that was black with a turquoise band on its scales. According to the guide, this specific type of snake is very rare and most Jamaicans have not even seen it before!

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Jamaica: The First Stop

For this trip, our group started out by staying in the all-inclusive Jewel Runaway Bay. Free drinks and food for as much as we could handle proved to be fun for a couple days. The beach was clear, the sand felt great underneath my feet, and there were hot tubs and pools for leisure at any time. With that being said, I still think my highlight from the first part may have been the Green Grotto caves. Our tour guide, Dwayne, made the tour funny, intriguing, and interesting. He took us through two caves while telling us stories about bats, escapes, and snakes. The whole experience made my imagination go crazy with what was once in those caves. Besides that experience, the ocean was amazing and although sunburn is a real problem for me, I managed to get through the stay with very little of it. Thank goodness for SPF 50! The piano bar was also a highlight. Good drinks, good company, and good music makes for a very fun evening and hear Dr. Egan belt out ‘Twist and Shout’ would have made Paul McCartney proud. Well…maybe not, but it was still super fun and I’ll definitely remember the luxery of that stay while I’m telling stories about this trip. There was more that stuck with me though, but it was outside the resort.

Rob Williams and I ran at 7:30 am both days of staying in Runaway Bay. Both times caused drenching sweat, but the first day was a hell of a welcome to Jamaican running. We wanted to stay off the main road, so we crossed and headed towards the mountains. I’m not sure we realized just how soon the mountain started. By half a mile in, it felt like constant uphill and by a mile it was like our worst Augie hill but 5 times as long. With all this said, as we were running up the hill we saw some pristine views of the countryside leading to the ocean. We passed several people walking to what I assume is where they work for the day and most either said good morning and one said “Exercise?! Yah Mon!!” The people were always friendly and that made the stay so much more memorable. I was always worried they just view us as rich, white Americans who don’t give a shit about them but if that’s what they think, they hide it well. I had nothing but good conversations with the Jamaican people. Outside of the resort was a lot of trash and as we drove to Kingston, it seems like there is a huge trash problem. It really is a shame because the country is beautiful but there is so much litter. Now to get planning for teaching tomorrow. Oh boy!

Jewel Resort Runaway Bay

We truly were living the life of luxury in the resort. All you can eat and drink was awesome. It was very interesting to see the way the island is in the resort and outside the resort grounds. I really liked that the first night we just got to hangout with the group and were graciously welcomed into the hotel. The next day going was nice to sit on the beach and relax. Going to the caves was so cool. I learned a lot of new things about the slaves and pirates that used to be there. I found it very interesting that the caves were used for concerts. I think that would have been cool to see but I understand why they didn’t keep the concerts going. The environmental destruction that would have happened with the caves if they would have been kept going would have been detrimental. The vibrations of the music would have shook the cave so much that it may have collapsed. The nature that was in the cave and the surrounding areas was fantastic. We saw the rare Jamaican Boa and many bats. It was great!

The second night we talked to one of the bar tenders. We were talking about music and other things with Romayne and Vybz Kartel was brought up. It was interesting to see what the people of the island think about him. The bartender said that he thinks that Vybz is one of the largest names in the country. He thinks that Vybz is the best. He also says that even though the sentence given to Vybz was 30 to life, Romayne thinks he will be out in 1-2 years. He is too big to stay in jail. He also says that the country will go crazy when/if he gets out. This generation really likes Vybz and resonate with him. Romayne also gave us an understanding of what is happening with the songs that keep coming out from his studios. Vybz supposedly was recording songs all day every day. He would make and record 20 songs a day. Romayne says he would eat, drink, sleep music in his studio. This was a great piece of information because I read Vybz’s book.

Jamaica Journal #1: Jewel Runaway Bay Resort

We landed in Jamaica 2 days ago and what an interesting place we landed in. Our journey of this country started at Jewel Runaway Bay Resort, an all inclusive resort with several pools and hot tubs, a waterpark, and a beautiful sandy beach right by the ocean. It is a place of luxury with food at every turn and any drink you can imagine. I have loved being able to sit on the beach, catching some rays and reading a book. We even ventured into the ocean yesterday even though it was pretty wavy. Even without googles and a snorkel, you were able to see the bright colorful fish swimming in and out of the coral. Also, everyone has been so nice to us during our stay. Yesterday, the concierge called our room to make sure everything was satisfactory with our stay. Today, while reading on the beach, the lifeguard was making up handshakes with the little kids that were also enjoying their vacation. It has just been a great experience so far!

Yesterday, we went to the Green Grotto Caves, which have a lot of historical significance to this area. The slaves used these caves to escape from their masters and the Spanish Governor used it to escape from the English invasion of the island in the 17th century. It is strange to think that people used these caves as survival now that there are paved paths and lights throughout the site. At one point, our tour guide took us down some stairs to an underground lake. He turned off the lights and told us to get back to the top using only the railing as our guide. The escaping slaves would not have been able to use fire in the cave because there were opening in the ceilings that would have given away their location with the smoke. In theory, this would have been a great exercise to actually know how the slaves got around without being able to see. However, people just turned on their phone flashlight or a watch would accidentally light up  and we could see the path again. It is hard to really understand the struggle of these people when we have modern technology at our finger tips.

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Jamaica Journal 1: The Height of Luxury

Upon arriving at the Jewel of Runaway Bay resort, our luggage was quickly taken from our hands and replaced with a blue drink. The workers refused to let us find our rooms on our own and guided us directly to the front doors of our rooms. Anne, Alex (my roomies for the trip) and I thanked the worker profusely. This gesture from the workers foreshadowed the type of spoiling we would receive during the rest of our stay at the resort.

The first full day was filled with the beach, lots of food, and lots of fruity drinks. Everything was handed to us. In class, we talked about privilege and how we need to make sure we’re aware of it. I was very much aware of it while at this resort.

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