Our trip to the compelling Island of Jamaica brought us many rich experiences, but also left us with questions. We went seeking paradise and found a people struggling too hard to gaze at beautiful sunsets or bask on beaches. We made friends with people who have a very different experience of life than our own. Many of them believe they are bound to the island with no way of getting out.
We witnessed many contradictions: their care and concern for each other, and their warmness towards us, punctuated at times by a harshness in communicating amongst themselves. We experienced a laid-back feeling toward life and yet saw an intense struggle to survive.
Our experience has helped us to understand that a people's culture, history, and upbringing make them different from us. Learning this we are better able to appreciate others for those differences-not just people across the sea, but also those in our own neighborhoods.
We went to give to the Jamaicans, but the gifts we received from them are worth far more than what we brought. The people opened their hearts, homes and lives to us. They reminded us that there are more important things than getting a job done. People, our relationships with them, our support of one another and the feeling of community are all more meaningful than material success. Jamaica reminded us of the riches back home in our own yards that we take for granted, such as our education, medical services, transportation, and the free opportunity to pursue our goals.