We started our week off with another successful writing workshop pertaining to our papers on Liberation Theology! After the writing workshop, the Gapsters parted into two groups. Eight of us spent the week building a home with the Good News Project, while the others ventured to Upton Gardens--a rehabilitation center for girls--and Dunnottar--a school for children with special needs.
|Painting sure is fun!|
|Build Crew hard at work on the roof of the house|
|Build Crew, nailing it!|
While we began our building careers on Monday, our peers travelled to Upton Gardens Girls School. Upon arrival, they were given a brief overview of the organization and its history. Open for over 30 years now, Upton Gardens was founded by the Saint Lucia National Council of Women. The St. Lucian women's organization formed the school when they recognized that many young girls were being falling through the cracks, so to speak, as the economy shifted from agriculture to the service industry. This economic shift had a powerful effect on the family structure of many St. Lucians. Instead of having the flexibility to balance the demands of raising a family and harvesting bananas, once the economy shifted, mothers were not able to be at home with their children due to the 24-hour demands of the service industry. As the economy rapidly shifted from agriculture to the service industry, many working mothers took up jobs in local hotels and restaurants, which required them to work odd hours, day and night. Upton Gardens was started as an intervention program for girls on the verge of delinquency, due to the change in family structures. The school offers basic education classes, life skills training, and rehabilitation & counseling services to girls ages 12 to 16 who have behavioral issues due to neglect, abuse, or getting into trouble with the law. This organization serves a vital role in the community and is essential for girls who either go through, or are lost to, the court system. It is one of very few places in St. Lucia that offers guidance and support to an all-female student base. It is sad because before Upton Gardens, there was no help for the girls who needed it. Yet there were several long-standing government-funded support organizations for boys in tough situations.
After the briefing about Upton Gardens, the group made their way to go and meet the girls and women (graduated Upton Garden students) they would be working with. This group of Gapsters taught a process of making "up cycled" jewelry. Materials included leather cord and old bottle caps. The bottle caps were stamped with metal letter pieces, which could be used to spell out any word. Then these indented words were filled in with colored markers. Using a hammer and nail, a hole was made to insert the cord. The Gap students taught the Upton Gardens women and girls how to tie off the leather cord with a "slip knot." This type of knot allowed for adjustable necklaces and bracelets to the desired length. This jewelry workshop was designed not only as a fun activity for the current students, but also as a means to make some extra income for those who have graduated. The women quickly took to the notion that this "project" had potential for market value. It was inspiring to see how much creative flare and business savvy some of the women had!
During their first visit to Upton Gardens, the Gap students made comments on how shy the girls were: that they would barely answer questions and would not ask for help on the jewelry. When the group returned on Friday, the girls were much more excited and comfortable with them. Madeline mentioned the great conversations she had with the girls that day. They talked about many topics; ranging from music and piercings to school and their celebrations of Carnival and all of its facets. One of the most interesting details revealed during the chats with the girls was that of transferring schools to be near people they liked (i.e. if a female student likes a boy, she will transfer schools in order to be closer to him and to have a relationship with him). Upon hearing this, the Gap students were all surprised at the fact that this was a common occurrence on the island. This is just another example of difference in culture and how interesting it is to learn from listening to others.
Classroom Crew at Dunnottar School
with some staff and students
|Abby accompanying a |
student at Dunnottar School
|Jake with a buddy!|
|Jack and Matt learning from |
the Life Skills class!
After a week of being separated into two groups, all of us reunited for a day-long catamaran sail. It may have been raining all day, but nothing could keep the Gapster's spirits down. We saw a large pod of dolphins (30+), snorkeled among patches of fire coral, and soaked in the salty sea air. This was a perfect way to celebrate all that we did throughout the week.
|Sailing in to the port of Soufriere'|
|Who could forget the bright colors of the Caribbean houses once you've seen them?!|
|A tropical paradise for most tourists, yet home for the locals|
|Look at those exhuberant faces: Kate, Mallory, Autumn, Matt, Jake, Alec, MoJo & Sam|
|And we can't forget the other side of the boat: Abby, Jack, Madeline, Morgan, Zach, Nicole, Josie, Sydney, Heston and Morgan P.|
|Autumn, Josie, Abby, Kate, and Morgan M. ready to set sail|