4/24/2014 10:28:15 PM

Service Immersion in Jamaica

Friday, March 15, 2013

By Kristen Bossio '16

Several Siena students, staff, faculty members and friars traveled to Kingston, Jamaica on a Service Immersion Trip during winter break. Through a variety of hands-on experiences, they lived Siena College’s Franciscan mission of serving the poor and marginalized in a country that faces many social and economic challenges. According to the CIA World Factbook, Jamaica’s economy is dealing with high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment and a significant public debt burden.

Student-leader Alyssa Endres ’14 said that the group’s primary project was helping with the construction of a house for the Browns, a Jamaican family whose home had been destroyed and ravaged while they were away. The service group worked with the family to mix and pour the concrete floor of the house.

“We were serving with the people (and) helping people out who were willing to help themselves,” Endres said.

One of the group’s overall goals was to work side-by-side with the Jamaicans to help improve their community. With that in mind, Siena’s visitors also repainted bathroom walls in a local primary school. Endres said their efforts in the school were timely because the walls were littered with profanities and a health inspector was coming the next day.

A couple days into the trip, the group visited an orphanage that doubled as a nursery. “The kids were starving for attention,” Endres said. The only entertainment they had was two swings and several broken toys. The kids clung to members of the Siena group, delighted to have people with whom to interact.

The presence of the Siena contingent inspired other Jamaicans to help out as well. Endres said that word quickly spread and that children came from all directions to assist her group.

For Endres, working in Jamaica was a humbling and eye-opening experience. It helped her grow both in her faith and as a person. It also showed her just how much Americans take for granted.

“Spending an hour with someone here is nice, but spending an hour with someone there changes their life,” Endres said.

Siena College’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy offers Service Immersion Trips during winter break and spring break each year. The trips, to places such as Boston, Bethel, Alaska and the Republic of Lithuania in Africa offer students unique experiences that exemplify what it means to live the Siena College mission by serving in the Franciscan spirit.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

Back to Siena News.