The group took a trip to the University of West Indies. This was our first exposure to any Jamaican college. I saw the immediate differences between Temple and UWI. It kept the traditional Jamaican layout of having an outdoors look for the spacing of the buildings. It was a bigger campus than Temple with a lot more green unoccupied space where, if it were in Philly, people would sit and lay out but the Jamaican boys used the space to play soccer. I was not able to go into the building other than the lecture room we will be using but from what I see it is similar. The buildings are split based on the area of each career. There’s the liberal arts center as well as health profession buildings like at Temple. The residence halls are similar but more relaxed as there was no security in our building which is something you wouldn’t find at Temple where every residence halls has a front desk and everyone must check in and sign in guests.
Over the course of the 5 days we spent at UWI we had different lectures about Jamaican culture and history, topics we have become familiar with through some of the readings we have done in class, and even more so the things we’ve experienced living here. One of the lectures we sat through was really interesting to me because we were able to listen and interact with Michael Witter from the movie “Life & Debt”. I was especially drawn in because “Life & Debt” has been the primary reference to all of the knowledge I have about Jamaica and its culture. I was interested to see what more he had to tell us about Jamaica.
In his presentation he spoke about many realities Jamaicans face. Everything he talked about and all of the connections he made resonated with me. Being in Jamaica for the past couple of weeks and the time I have spent learning and analyzing, I have been able to make the connections he did in his presentation. It was nice to see the connections I’ve been making finally mapped out. He was just able to map it out for me in a way I couldn’t. He is very smart and knowledgable of Jamaican history and current issues. I think it is good for locals to be as knowledgable about Jamaica as he is. As a local, knowledge can only act as power giving you the information and tools to make a difference or at least live to the fullest potential within your circumstance. This is where education comes into play, one area of society we have seen as well. Students at the schools have shown a disinterest for the materials which will allow them to think critically and make connections about one topic as it relates to another topic. Without these skills, they are only taking things face value not exploring the “Why” or the “How” of many situations in their lives.
I think that is what I enjoyed most about the presentations we saw–they all knew so much about the culture and history of their country and were proud to share it. You could see the pride he took in talking about things and as a listener it makes it more interesting because He wasnt regurgitating facts and figures but rather explaining things with a hint of his perspective incorporated. Going into the lecture, I was able to see what I know. I learned a lot over the past weeks living here. From the book presentations given in class to the experiences I have had with the locals, I feel like I am well aware of the information that the presenters gave to us. This makes me feel good or even more authentic in my Jamaican culture because I am actually able to talk about the problems of Jamaica, not only from a book perspective but also from experience. I feel like I have seen first hand what poverty looks like. I have seen how scarce water is. I have seen and felt the struggles every Jamaican feels living here. I feel like I am a Jamaican.