What inspired you to go abroad? Did your experience meet your expectations?
I was inspired to go abroad, because I thought it would have been a great experience. I had no idea of what to expect. Most of all I was shocked about how much of an impact it made on my life.
Why did you choose Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions?
I chose this program because I was going with my high school, Malden Catholic. They chose to work with them and I could not be any happier with their decision.
What was your favorite part about Jamaica?
My favorite part about my host country was how simple everyone lived; it shocked me. To me, the way everyone lived was almost pleasing. I am not sure why, but it was just a great time.
What made your experience abroad unique?
The thing that made my experience unique was the kids and how down to earth they were. It just reminded me how to be a kid again. I remember playing outside constantly as a kid, then technology became a big factor. It has made me realize how different the next generation of kids will be, with going out every day and having their choice of video games.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The staff was great! If we had a problem with anything, they would create a solution to it very quickly. If they weren't there, the trip wouldn't have been the same.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
If I could have done anything different it would have to be paying more attention to detail within farming. The two most important things were to dig the hole deep enough and then water it correctly. If I did those two things with a little bit more caution, I feel as though the product could have been a lot better.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day was wake up around 8:00 a.m. and go enjoy a great breakfast with a good group of guys. Then we would go get ready, pack everything we needed, and hop on the bus. We went to Mizpah Primary School, and we’d work over there for about the length of a school day, maybe a little longer towards 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. Then we had a good lunch at the school.
After that, we would head back home and prepare for dinner, so we would shower or wash our hands if we would shower later at night. After dinner, we would go back to our room or go hang out outside. Within two hours or so we all would had back into the living room of the house and do a reflection. A reflection is where we would receive three questions about the day and answer them personally, if we wanted we could share. Finally at the end of the night, it was time to wrap up and get ready for bed. Everyone in our room would talk for the next hour before we started to fall asleep.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I personally enjoyed getting to know the guys from my school who I was not close with. I became close with a few Malden Catholic friends and got a lot closer with my already close MC friends. Also, I got to know a few kids from the other school we went with.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My accommodation was different from everyone else's besides the other eight MC guys who stayed with me. We were in a separate house with four bunk beds, and one bed for the teacher in the other room. The thing I liked most was the fact that I got closer with that teacher and we were able to stay up a lot later to talk to each other.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
I feel like one thing they should know is to go into this with an open mind and no expectations. For me at least, that is how I went into it, and it really did impress me.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
My time abroad has taught me not to take the simple things for granted. Like not having to walk two hours to school, waking up and just making a simple breakfast, and most of all, not to just be on my phone or tablet all day, but to go enjoy life outside.
Would you recommend your program to others? Why?
I would recommend this program to anyone from my school in the future, because it was a great experience, which I learned a lot from. If I can go again, I would love to, so I can go see all my new friends from Jamaica.
Ben is a student at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Massachusetts. He is excited to be a graduating member of the class of 2017, and is currently trying to figure out where he will continue his education through a college career. Ben considers his trip abroad to Jamaica as one of the best experiences he has ever had, and he looks forward to more opportunities to go abroad in the future.