Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Village tourism the jewel of Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | May 25, 2016 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Jamaica is frequently marketed to the world as the jewel in the Caribbean tourism industry crown. I recently discovered that the best example of this jewel of tourism in Jamaica is an underpublicised, little-known Village Tourism Project operating in Petersfield, Westmoreland.

This project is one initiative created as part of a community organisation titled the Association of Clubs (AOC), spearheaded by Matthias Brown, and dedicated to promoting community development, positive outcomes for the citizens of Jamaica and meaningful connections among the citizens of Jamaica and citizens of other countries who spend time in Jamaica.

Last month, five master's level students in counsellor education and I travelled from our university in Fargo, North Dakota, to participate in the Village Tourism Project. Our weeklong experience was based on a mutual collaboration between the citizens of Petersfield involved in AOC and a service-learning organisation named Amizade.

VOLUNTEERISM AND RETREAT

Unlike other service-learning experiences I have known, we did not engage in volunteerism during the day and then retreat to our hotel and live like typical tourists. We spent our entire time immersed in the life of the local community and in the lives of its citizens. Not only did we work in a local primary school, and live in the homes of local residents, we participated fully in community activities, including community meetings and activities.

In this type of tourism, we shared what we had to offer to the community, based on its needs, not ours; and benefited greatly from comparative education.

Everywhere we went, we were accompanied by at least two members of the community; young adults and/or our host mother who guided our travels and helped us to understand how to appropriately act and react in a new environment.

I urge that the powers that be shine a bright light on this jewel of Jamaica.

BRENDA S. HALL

Professor,

Counsellor Education

North Dakota State University