Bellarmine Prep students slowed down and enjoyed the moment in York Castle, Jamaica

August 2019

“What I learned from the community was that we live very different lives, yet we are still similar in some ways. Most of us don’t walk everywhere, see goats and other farm animals every day, or know every person in our town, but we find ways to bond with music, sports, and smiles. “ – Kelli

“ The people in the community were so inspirational and life-changing that it’s hard to describe. For instance, Lora, one of the older boys in the community that help with the court had a physical and mental disability. However, throughout the entire day he shoveled dirt and sand with only one good arm with little to no breaks. It showed me that no matter your circumstances you can always do your best and be the best for others. “ -Sid

It was Thursday July 25, 2019 at 9 pm when 18 students and 2 chaperones from Bellarmine Preparatory High School stood at the airport, waiting to check in. None of us expected a 10-day trip to change our perspectives about what it means to work as a team, to provide opportunities for generations to come, and to understand what it means to give and receive true happiness. We have seen from the community at church that they are passionate and willing to shout their praises with triumph and glory. Every Sunday evening, the whole community would gather in the town square to play cricket or soccer while the elders watch from afar. They encouraged us to come, welcoming us in like family. From Monday to Wednesday when we worked on the court, many people young and old came to watch us or help out. During our reflection time from around 6-7, we reflect on our day, asking ourselves what went well and what could I as an individual and a teammate done better. During these reflections, we are each assigned a challenge of the day. We must complete these challenges before we meet for reflections again. Some examples are: race a farm animal, learn a local dance move, or learn about the economy. These little tasks amazingly brought us closely together with the community.

“Something this trip taught me was to enjoy every moment more. This trip was amazing and it felt like everything slowed down and made me enjoy the moment so much more, and that felt nice. “ – Logan

“ I thought the people were going to disrespect us and judge us… But when I was talking to the contractor he taught me the Jamaican handshake, he taught me that it meant one blood. He said it doesn’t matter your skin we are one blood. I realize that I don’t have to judge our stupid things- I could just love, and share one blood. “ – Mason

Sooner than later came the time we had to say goodbye. We felt devastated to leave such a beautiful place with a magnificent community. However, as we were leaving in our crowded private bus, more people from the streets stopped to wave goodbye. We realized how the court we built with the
community was a tremendous gift for them. They, in return, offered a gift we couldn’t ask for from anyone else: another home. From amazing men and women like Shanaia, Mrs. Harvey, Mr. Black, Peta-Gaye and Patrick to little children like Zavier and Quanita, they impacted our lives with memories from mixing the cement, wheelbarrowing, cooking, or just interacting in a conversation.

All of us shared “One Love”. -Ashlyn, student

“ As I work in the community I feel closer to my parents, first generation immigrants from the Philippines. One  of the things they miss the most from home is knowing every single one of their neighbors. I see that in York Castle, how everybody knows everybody’s name and I wish I had that. “ – Loraine