Students Crossing Borders replaces a previous project, Student Teachers in the Global Classroom. However our mission remains the same: Providing opportunities for young Canadian men and women who are pursuing a teaching career to work alongside teachers in a less fortunate country, and to support them by creating curriculum kits for use in the classroom. July 7-22 is the date set for traveling to Jamaica this summer as Students Crossing Borders

Students Crossing Borders (SCB) was founded in 1991 by Fintan Kilbride, a retired Catholic high school teacher. His began his program by taking groups of high school students to Jamaica on a work/study trip for 2 weeks each summer. While there, participants would work in some of the most impoverished areas of Kingston – in a school in a shanty community built on Kingston’s landfill site, a home for children with HIV, an institution for children with special needs, and a home for abandoned seniors. The group’s role was to serve the poor in whatever way they could, and to provide a voice for the voiceless. A few years later, the opportunity to take part in this incredible trip was opened up to anyone interested in participating; the one condition was that they were going for the right reasons – to serve, not to vacation. The criteria remains the same today.

The participants on the summer trips usually include high school, college, and university students, elementary and high school teachers, and interested community members from many different walks of life. In the winter the group is primarily from Seneca College and is based out of Seneca’s School of Early Childhood Education. The Seneca chapter of SCB started travelling to Jamaica in February 2005 with participants, predominantly made up of Early Childhood Education students and alumni from Seneca College, but not restricted to those groups. Each year the group becomes more diverse drawing from the entire college community, allowing for a broader set of skills to take with us to Jamaica.

Typically, we work in the school in Riverton (the community at Kingston’s landfill site) in the classrooms with the teachers, as well as planning and running a recreational after school program for older children both winter and summer. We provide workshops for the teachers in Riverton based on their requests, and take part in a district-wide professional development day in the winter. Planning for all of the projects we undertake begins well before we leave for Jamaica. Participants plan programs and workshops, and gather necessary resources and basic school supplies. As well, we gather medications and supplies for the healthcare clinic at Riverton and our other work sites.
Projects include:
Creating Teaching Resources
House Building
Field Trip
Fence,Playground and Community Garden
New School

This experience will help them to understand the social values of our own country, compared to another country and to become sensitive to the situations of others. This will begin to prepare them for working with members of the global community and develop an understanding of related issues.

This project is one of several initiatives recently undertaken by the Foundation as part of its effort to build connections in the emerging Global Village. It is also in keeping with PCWF’s efforts to attract the interest of young Canadians in volunteering their services to assist communities in need.

For more information:

Lynn Caruso, Project Coordinator
Seneca College,
School of Early Childhood Education
416-491-5050 ext 2161
lynn.caruso@senecac.on.ca

OR

Larry Rooney
mailto:info@pcwf.ca
416-964-3380

July 2005 Trip
Student Teachers in the Global Classroom,and Students Crossing Borders July 2005 update.

In February, a group of 20 Early Childhood Education (ECE) students, and their faculty from Seneca college travelled to Jamaica to help out as student teachers in a variety of places in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica. We worked in a hospice for children with HIV, a home for teen moms, a home for children with special needs, and a school built on Kingston’s garbage dump, in a mostly shanty-community called Riverton.

In July, a group of 34, highschool and university students, teachers, and caring community members visited the same places and fulfilled many of the same tasks.

At Riverton, students helped out the teachers by working with individual children on the lessons of the day. As well, the students implemented some specific program plans each day (e.g. small group activities related to math, literacy, music, or creativity). The Canadian students learned a great deal about patience and working in extremely taxing circumstances from the Jamaican host teachers. At the HIV hospice, ECE students implemented program plans as well, and all who visited assisted the workers with the school program that they run, and helped to relieve the workers in whatever way they could. In the home for teen moms, students provided much appreciated childcare for the moms while they conducted their chores or attended classes, and, essentially, “hung out” with the young women. As well, they helped with some painting and preparing for a yard sale that the centre was organizing as a fundraiser.

At Mustard Seed, the home for children with special needs, students helped out the nurse/caregivers in any way they could, by helping with feeding, taking children to Devotions, or reading and singing to the children.

The trip proved to be a humbling and life-changing experience for many of the people who participated, from the youngest (age 14) to the oldest (age 50). We learned that we have a blurred line between our needs and our wants. We learned more about dignity than one can ever imagine. For example, one gentleman who receives his lunches through a special lunch program for seniors in the Riverton community, would not come into the building for an intergenerational day we held because he was dirty from working in the field. He didn’t want to be disrespectful. We also learned about patience – things don’t always happen as we would like them to – there are far too many things that are out of our control and it is fruitless to get upset about it(e.g hurricanes, busses for 280 people that don’t show up when they are supposed to for reasons that we don’t know, water that can’t be delivered, food that shows up when it is ready, not necessarily when we feel hungry for it). Mostly we learned about the joy and hope of people who have little material wealth and property. Everyone went home with a sense of appreciation for what they have, and wanting to change things in their lives and the lives of those close to them.
Each of the groups that travelled to Jamaica were involved in gathering donations of goods, and of money. We gathered and took unprecedented amounts of materials with us. As well, we were able to raise funds to assist the community we worked in and learned so much from.

Our fund raising efforts helped with the following:
We sponsored a good portion of the summer school program, including buying some materials for the program. Without our help the program was at risk of being cancelled. In addition, we paid for a trip to the beach (buses and food for 250 community members), and for the women who prepared the lunches for the children. Once again, without our contribution, they would not have been able to pay the women. A portion of the funds raised went to pay for the shipping of many of the donations and some additional funds will go towards paying the duties on the shipment. Finally, some money will be used to sponsor 2 boys who have been accepted in the grade 6 program at Kingston College, one of the best schools for boys in Kingston. without our assistance, the boys may not be able to attend the school.

Planning for the July 2007 trips has begun. Participants are being recruited right now. For further information, contact Lynn Caruso at 416-491-5050, ext 2161 or at lynn.caruso@senecac.on.ca