This past week, six Wooster students and a few teachers went down to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to assist two of Wooster's partner schools with building playgrounds and interacting with the kids. Todd Blamires '19, Drew Greeley '20, Max Morales-Thomason '20, Monisha Mohan '20, Riley Damiano '20, and Zach Felton '22, all got the opportunity to go on this incredible trip, and I got the opportunity to speak with them earlier this week about the experience they shared. From the kids to the environment to the service in general, this was clearly something that all of them enjoyed and found meaningful.
Jackie: Tell me about the trip you all went on last week.
Riley: It was amazing.
Monisha: We went to Jamaica, Montego Bay. We went to two schools: Sandy Bay Basic and Hopewell.
Max: We visited the schools, and we each had learning stations.
Riley: I did a snow activity, where we made fake snow, and taught them about it (which was a special activity for the kids because they had never seen real snow before).
Monisha: I did ballet. I got little tutus and fairy wings, and we talked about ballerinas.
Max: I helped out Zack: we brought down balls and jump rope and chalk (from America) and set it all up. We tried teaching them 4Square but it didn't quite work out *laughing* they didn't really listen.
Drew: I read them children's books and drew pictures with them.
J: How did you all end up going?
Group: We applied.
Monisha: We got an email, wrote an essay...
Riley: This was before March break, and we found out we were going the Wednesday or Thursday after spring break, it was pretty quick.
J: Why did you want to go?
Monisha: I saw it as a really cool opportunity.
Riley: I've always wanted to go somewhere to- I've never done a service trip before, but I didn't want to just do a service trip once and never go back and say, "Hey I helped these people, but I'm not committed to it," so with this we get the opportunity to help them and I think that's really great.
Drew: I thought it would be fun and a good experience, so I applied.
Max: I wanted to go because I really enjoy doing Social Impact, and like Riley said, I've never been on a service trip before. I've always done social impact on a smaller scale, and I thought it'd be cool to do service on a much large scale and hopefully go back. That was kinda the reason I wanted to go, also it'd be fun.
J: What was the best part about this experience?
Drew: I liked going to the schools the most.
Monisha: Yeah. Just playing with the kids.
Riley: I loved seeing them smile-
Monisha: -like when they got the ball and chalk-
Riley: -it was great.
Monisha: They're really cute. They're kinda crazy but they're cute. *Riley laughs* They're also very violent, but they're cute.
J: What were the kids like there?
Max: Some of them were violent. There was one girl that kept hitting me, then she picked up little rocks and threw them at me, then she picked up a big rock and started throwing it at me. *rest of group laughs*
J: Why were they like that with you guys?
Max: I think they were just playing, and this particular girl took it a little too far.
Riley: It was really interesting, the model school had more physical kids where the school that was thought of as a little "lesser"-
Monisha: -they were more behavior-aly stable-
Riley: But they were really so nice and so cute and- (they used) Please and Thank-yous.
Monisha: I worked with mostly girls for ballet and they were pretty chill, some of them were pretty nice, they held my hand and gave me a piece of their snack.
Riley: They wanted to take our cameras and take pictures of themselves, it was pretty cute.
J: What did they think about you guys coming in and helping them out, were they receptive?
Monisha: I think they were like, "Oo more play buddies!"
Drew: It was pretty normal for them.
Max: They were still young.
Monisha: 2, 3, 4, 5.
Max: I would talk to people who came back from Nepal and they'd say, "Oh these kids, they really looked up to you and asked me for my autograph." I think these kids were a little too young to understand what was actually going on, so they were just like, "Hey! Visitors! Come play with me!"
Monisha: They were really cute. The little 2-year-old's were the cutest.
J: Last thoughts, anything else you want to say about the experience?
Riley: Anyone thinking about doing it should apply.
Monisha: Definitely, yeah.
J: How can other kids get involved in this opportunity?
Max: Usually they send out an email.
Group: Yeah, yeah.
Drew: You can talk to Mr. Newman.
Monisha: Or Ms. Higgins.
Max: Kids were hard to understand. Jamaicans alone are hard to understand and toddlers along are hard to understand, so then Jamaican toddlers are really hard to understand *everyone's talking and laughing by now*. Just nice, sweet kids. Great experience.
Drew: I had a really good time.
Thank you to Riley, Max, Monisha, and Drew for talking with me for this interview!