Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 5 - JAFSP

My calves and hips are really aching from that blasted hike, but this morning I was completely fine. I have two bad blisters on the back of my feet (which is all I got, amazingly). I'm worried about these because we have another, much shorter hike up a hill to a coconut plantation on Thursday. At the top, we go to a coconut plantation where a guy shimmies up a tree, gets a coconut, and then we get to drink the coconut milk (by the way, everyone drinks coconut water here...they say it has tremendous electrolytes). 

I was reflecting on this experience of the JAFSP today. It has been so challenging in many ways for me on a personal and professional level (which is what I was seeking). There have been some amazing moments for me...others have just been surreal. Tonight, after our drumming class and our MT supervision/training session, Tracy W. and I got some snacks and drinks and sat out on a cliff. Literally. Her hut is on a cliff and outside it, there is this enormous lounger chair that fits two. We laid back and looked at the most amazing sky I have seen...maybe ever (and that includes Santa Fe, which is extraordinary). I saw constellations I am sure I've never seen and we watched shooting stars for some time, and way off at the horizon there was lightning in a far off storm. It was just fantastic. I tear up thinking how beautiful it was and I didn't want to have to come back to my hut. It is in those moments that you gain perspective on yourself, others, and our existence on this earth.

Today was also our first day of going to the sites, so my assigned students and I arrived at the School of Hope at 8:30 a.m. and we joined them for their morning devotionals (down here prayer and religion are not separated from school) and they told us to bring our instruments. I was panicking a bit because I had no clue what they did, or what they expected from us. Luckily we knew some of the songs they sang, and we played/sang along as much as we could. I love how they dance and clap as they sing gospel music, etc. Then we watched a brief story from the Bible by two of the teachers. One, who is hearing impaired, would tell the story in sign, and then another would translate. I loved watching the translator demonstrate "da big fish" throwing Jonah back up, and so did the kids.  
Music therapy students at School of Hope site- they are from  programs all over the U.S.

We worked with the first group for about 45 minutes, then another group for about the same time. The students took turns leading songs, movement experiences, and rhythm experiences. The students then had a break/snack, so they came out with food and immediately made a beeline for us sitting outside (all sessions were held outside. We moved chairs - sometimes during a group - anytime we lost shade to keep the heat more bearable). We then worked with a group of children with hearing impairments (It was larger- maybe around 10?) which was a terrific learning experience for all of us! I learned a lot of new signs and we were really thinking on our feet! We had lunch there and then had a few students come back out for 2:1 sessions. I feel like I did a decent job of modeling and providing guidance without completely taking over, so hopefully the students felt the same. I also hope that tomorrow goes as well as today did because I'm going to be at the infirmary with 3 of the same students from today and tomorrow there will be 3 different students (we are all on a different rotation). At recess the kids returned to the tables we were sitting at outside and started asking to take pictures with the students' cameras and started picking up instruments. We let them and soon they were all playing together with a few leading rhythms we have learned down here. It was chaotic and fun. At one point, a girl sat down next to me, reached out and dragged her finger across my arm very intently, looked at her fingers and then rubbed them together. I said, "Are you trying to see if it rubs off?" and she nodded in agreement--then she smiled broadly. White skin is very unusual for some of the people in this country, particularly in the rural areas. 
Children eager to get picture taken with a student
This evening we ate Jerk Pork and "veg" (which just means vegetables) at "Davey's", the stand we ate at our first night here (which feels like 10 years ago) and then I walked to a nearby stand for fresh pineapple which the guy cut up right there, taking out all the prickly things and bagging for me for less than $2 (U.S.). I am going to miss the consistent fresh fruit access SO much. At the school, while the lunch wasn't anything too amazing, the juice they brought us had passion fruit, ginger, and mango in it and it was COLD (something I will try not to take for granted ever again) and delicious. Tomorrow we go to lunch at a "veg" place where today he apparently served freshly squeezed orange juice (done right in front of people), then fresh fruit platters, followed by some type of vegetable dish (and I'm liking most of the vegetables and unique salads done here!)...all for around $8 (U.S.) or 800J (Jamaican dollars)!

Tomorrow I head to the infirmary which I'll write about later!

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