1/5/2014

This afternoon, the group made one last trip down to Treasure Beach to catch some waves and watch the sunset.  Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat at Jack Sprats before heading back to Top Hill for our last night at the Maranatha School. Our driver for the last week, Ashley Stephenson, joined us for this meal. Tomorrow is the first day back for the Maranatha School, so we’ll spend some time with a few of their students before heading off to Kingston where we’ll stay for the coming week.

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1/5/2014

This morning, the students walked back down the road to the Deaf Bible Church, which is a local gathering place for the deaf community in Top Hill. The service was led by Pastor Pauline Bent and was signed in both Country Sign (informal system, gestures relate more directly to the behavior being communicated) and Standard Sign (formal, and universally understood) as well as spoken word. Verica, school teacher at Maranatha School for the Deaf was translating into spoken word for the Manchester University group.

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1/4/2014

Today started with a trip into Santa Cruz, which is the largest town nearest to the Maranatha School. Santa Cruz has a huge regional marketplace where farmers and vendors sell everything from shaved ice to clothing to vegetables. After exploring the market and grabbing lunch in Santa Cruz, we took a 30 minute bus trip to YS Falls. On one of the first trips to Jamaica 20 years ago, the Manchester group was one of the only groups at YS Falls, but through the years it has been dramatically developed into an incredible (and beautiful) place.

Once the students had their share of swimming and rope swinging into the pools of the base of the falls, it was time to head back towards Top Hill, stopping along the way at a roadside water tap to refill 12 water jugs and bring 60 gallons of drinking water back to the school.

After dinner it was time for the Manchester group to share their appreciation to the incredible Maranatha staff. It was a time of song, sharing and gifts, and was a memorable experience for everyone involved.

 

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1/3/2014 – Local Farm Tour and Soccer Games

After the tour of the classrooms was finished, the students walked down the hill to visit Neville’s farm to see how a local farmer produces crops, and was given a tour by his son, Nicholas. Neville is a master gardener, able to produce a huge variety of fruits and vegetables in an extraordinarily confined space, and even goes as far as to mulch many of his fields.

Later, the student-athletes walked to nearby Ridge Football Club to play a series of soccer games against the Ridge Football Club.

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1/3/2014 – Morning Work

Another 8am start to the workday came this morning, as the students moved the concrete supplies up the hill a bit to work on laying the floor for a new chicken coop. While those students were working with the cement, others were helping to do a bit of laundry by hand. After lunch, the students will walk down the road and get a tour of a local farm, as well as play in a 7v7 soccer tournament with some Top Hill locals.

I’ll be back later this evening with another post with images from this afternoon!

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1/2/2014

Today the students wrapped up the work on the dormitory roof, laying down about an inch and a half of concrete to cap the roof and fix the leaking issue. The work done to the roof paved the way for a future project to install a new water collection system on the roof. Work ended mid-afternoon and left enough time to head down to the community center for some basketball with locals.

During class, staff from the school spoke to the students to answer questions about culture and the operation at the school.

 

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1/1/2014 – Treasure Beach

Happy new year!!

New Years Day is always a day off of work and study, so the students spent the morning at The BREDS Sports Park in Treasure Beach. There, they had the opportunity to stretch their minds and learn about themselves and their classmates, as well as stretch their muscles on obstacle courses and a 40’ rock climbing wall. A couple students challenged their fear of heights by completing the rock wall. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at Treasure Beach enjoying the beautiful waves and sunset.

Upon arriving back at the school, there was significant reflection and sharing by the students about the impact the last three days has had.

 

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12/31/2013 – New Years Eve Party

Tonight the MU soccer team headed down to the local community center that’s connected to the church for the deaf. Every year, they host a New Years Eve party for the locals, both deaf and hearing, to join and celebrate the coming of the new year. Meals and baked goods were prepared and sold, games of dominoes were played and movies were shown for the kids. The students had the opportunity to interact and celebrate with the locals, and ultimately provided a memorable experience for everyone involved.

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12/31/13

Lucas here. First time traveling out of the country wasn’t as difficult as I figured it’d be, but Jamaica is infinitely more beautiful than I figured it’d be. The students have already been hard at work at the Maranatha School, and wrapped up their work for the day before I arrived at Top Hill, so this first post is just a few frames of my travel-boredom (see: wing in-camera double exposure), a few frames from the 2 1/2 car trip across Jamaica to Top Hill, and my first couple hours at the Maranatha school.  (For what it’s worth, I wrote this when I actually got here. Just now got internet access to post some images.) I’m hoping to do daily blog posts about the rectangles that are presenting themselves in front of me, and the work and experience that Manchester University students are getting the opportunity to have. Happy New Year, everyone! -Lucas

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