A Travellerspoint blog

Day 6: It's a Long One

We started off our day meeting with the Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security (MNS), the Hon. Rudyard Spence. There we heard about crime control and rehabilitation in Jamaica and how redemption is the central theme of its correctional system. We learned about the focus young offender rehabilitation through youth engagement which facilitates social, educational, vocational, and personal programs (i.e. carpentry, agriculture, cooking, mentorship, internship, and housing opportunities).
According to Minister Spence, "the focus is to make [them--youth] better off than when they came in...learning is valued".
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During our meeting we also heard, from Ms. Ella Ghartey and Ms. Shauan Towers, about the theories behind Jamaica's rehabilitation system which focuses primarily on at-risk youth.
Ms. Towers, the Chief Technical Director at the MNS, mentioned the three levels of correction and security: internal, domestic and international. She mentioned the focus on crime control on a meso (community) and micro (individual) level. For example, focusing on mental health development and assessment of a person vs. the crime they committed. A practical demonstration of this is a program that offers kids the chance to track their heart rate to teach them about triggers - how it happens and how they can regulate it in the midst of conflict.
Ms. Ghartey, the Program Manager of "We Transform" at the MNS, a young offender rehabilitation program, also mentioned the desire the MNS has in expanding crime prevention efforts within communities through more tangible opportunities. We learned about their interest in increasing their capacity for their agriculture program and halfway house programs for youth. Overall, we learned that one of the main goals is rehabilitation and reintegration of youth so they can become leaders in their communities.
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After visiting the Ministry of National Security office, we stopped fro lunch at Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, then visited the Matilda's Corner - one of the 24 offices of the Jamaican Constabulary Force. There, we met with Constable N. Callum for a tour of the particularly small police station. We learned that Matilda's Corner mostly deals with vehicle collision reports where the number of employees outnumber the volume of incoming reports.
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After our visit to the police station, we attended a conversation with Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees, Honorable Ahmed Hussen. We heard Hon. Hussen speak about Canada's plans to expand global learning opportunities for Canadian students which includes a $100,000,000 fund put together by Canada's ministry of education. We learned about his openness to enhancing labor benefits and citizenship tracks for newcomers and refugees in Canada. We also heard about the legal barriers immigrants of various status face when trying to access post-secondary education and simultaneous employment. Hon. Hussen mentioned his desire to alleviate that burden through a recently approved $1B fund for integration programs for newcomers.
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During the Q&A portion of the discussion, A member from our group, Stephanie, asked a question about how we, young professionals, can work in regards to policy making/functioning related to refugees. Hon. Hussen responded that there is a need for more awareness around the push factors of immigration such as global climate change, gang violence, and finance as a way to guide social intervention approaches both in Canada and the home Countries.
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In closing the Minister noted that, "in Canada, we are not building walls, we're building bridges".

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We ended our day by going on an excursion in August Town, St. Andrew, led by Ms Eka Patterson from the UWI film project in the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research. August is considered an inner city community and has a reputation for violence. However, the community is also rich in history and culture. It was the home of Revivalist Alexander Bedward. It also has a large Rastafarian community. In addition, August is the home of one of Jamaica's popular reggae artiste, Sizzla. It was a beautiful experience that expanded our knowledge of community development and collaboration in Jamaica. While walking through some areas, we were able to see how the beautiful town has developed and is founded on ability and critical thinking.
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Our trip leader mentioned the focus they have on building up on the natural talent of residents, as well as the effects of negative thoughts created and perpetuated by other communities. During this time, we had the opportunity to witness the artistic ability of community leaders within their own studio.
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August town illustrated a way for us to understand the social barriers that people in communities face while still managing to encourage a positive and edifying atmosphere for its residents. Overall the trip to August town enabled well rounded perspective and insight towards the residents and the culture they've cultivated over time.
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Our reflections of today's experience included the demonstration of policies and how they may not be as efficient/effective when put into practice. Some concerns were raised about the need for further social services development in regards to civilian security and support. Ultimately, we realized our future professional careers have the potential to fill in those service gaps which we agreed is inspiring.

Highlight of the day: (In August town) When asked if any of us was interested in recording any music and Ivan volunteered some of his [unexpected] rap free-styling skills.

Authors: Leah and Jasmean.

Posted by fscs_jamaica 21:29 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

Day 5: SuNdAy FuN dAy

Mineral baths & Blue Lagoon

On our day off, we decided to experience the mineral baths and the blue lagoon. Our breakfast of the day was a choice of ackee and salt fish, with bread fruit on the side. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and this dish is a traditional breakfast. It was different and delicious.

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Our first stop was the mineral baths in Rockfort, Kingston. As it was a relaxing experience that allowed us to cleanse the body. The water comes from the cold springs of the mountain that contains minerals such sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, etc. These minerals give the natural spring water a therapeutic value. We got to see a breath taking view of the mountains while enjoying the company of our peers.

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After the mineral baths, it was time for lunch. We visited a place called Queenie, which was a small sea food hashery on the shore of the carbine sea. The individual that owns the restaurant is named Ken and is a nephew of the driver that drove us to our activities today. Ken was born and raised in Jamaica and moved to downtown Toronto for a while and moved back to Jamaica about a year ago. He had made living for himself both there and at home in Jamaica. He mentioned he moved back after trying multiple jobs (modelling and construction) and that he was happier living here in Jamaica. He said he was tried of working for someone and preferred working for himself. The food we were served was fresh fish from the sea or the option of chicken. With the dish, we were also served bread fruit, plantain, pasta salad, vegetables, and rice and beans. Our group agreed that today’s lunch was the best that we had so far on the trip.

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After our amazing lunch, we drove 2 and half hours to Portland Antonio to embrace the wonders of blue lagoon. Our journey to this amazing place took us through the high and low points of the mountains. We saw many towns living on the edge of the cliffs. The bus ride was very bumpy but the breath taking view is what captured the moments. As some of us enjoyed the ride, and others had a rough ride because of the winding roads.

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As we finally arrived to the “World’s Famous Blue Lagoon”, we took a boat ride through the lagoon. We saw houses that were on the edge of the water and famous people such as Tom Cruse and Cameron Diaz stayed in these homes. The boat tour also took us out to the little islands and stopped at a small island called Monkey Island. Monkey Island doesn't have any monkeys, but has many wonders and little creatures such hermit crabs, crabs, sea urchins, small fish, and starfish. We were able to explore the water where the fresh water and ocean water mixed, allowing us to feel the cold and warm temperatures of the water. As we looked across the ocean, we got to see an amazing view of a combination of the sun, water, mountains, and beautiful blue sky. After we continued the boat tour exploring the rest of the Blue Lagoon. Our boat tour guide gave us the opportunity to see sea turtles as they were peacefully grazing in the water.

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As we made our way back, we had enough time to swim in the 65 meter deep blue water. We felt rushes of the cold and warm water combining as we swam to the furtherest doc to relax and soak up the sun. A few of us discovered a large tree with a Tarzan swing. We worked together by utilizing all of our skills to help each other climb the tree and swing into the water. It took us a few try’s, as we fell into the water countless times but we eventually succeeded. We all enjoyed the water while sitting on the doc. As the day was coming to an end, we all had to return to our bus to start the journey home. Some of us also went to the little market to look at souvenirs.

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On our way home, we made a pit stop at a local fruit market. We all got to indulge in delicious, juicy fruits such as coconut, pineapple, mango, sugarcane, jackfruit, soursop, and bananas. It allowed us to interact with locals and taste an experience we will never have at home.

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Our overall cultural learning experience today taught us many things. One learning experience in particular was with the people that we met today. They are very grateful and happy with what they have and they were welcoming with open arms. The best part of our day is that we got another chance to connect with our peers and enjoy each other’s company. We’re excited for the upcoming experiences throughout the trip!

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Posted by fscs_jamaica 18:33 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

Day 4: Welcome to Ocho Rios

Today we took a 2-hour drive through Jamaica's country and mountain sides to beautiful Ocho Rios, where we were able to experience Jamaica as tourists! Our day was packed, full of fun tours and sightseeing provided by Chukka Adventure. We participated in a 4-play adventure package.

Before getting started with our day, our Chukka tour guide, Leroy gave us some interesting facts about Ocho Rios. Ocho Rios is known as the number one tourist location in Jamaica. It is located in the parish of St. Ann which has a population of roughly 16,000 people! Leroy touched on a bit of history along the way, pointing out fields where sugar cane plantations used to exist before Jamaica gained their independence from British Colonial rule. The closer we traveled to Ocho Rios, it was apparent that the vibe and development was completely different compared to what we have seen in Kingston thus far. Unlike Kingston which has more commercial buildings, Oho Rios was completed dedicated to tourist attractions, which is the mean source of income for its people.

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Ok! So, our first stop on the list was at Dunn's River Falls & Park. The activities here included Zip Lining over the falls, and then after being able to climb the falls. We each started one by one crossing the falls and zip lining to each checkpoint while being able to enjoy the scenery from above. After we completed zip lining, we were able to start at the bottom of the falls and make our way climbing about 50m to the top. We had an awesome guide that led us through the falls and showing us some unique areas to the falls, which included a rock slide. As we made our journey to the top we also made sure to stop along the way and enjoy the fresh flowing water. Our group agrees the falls was definitely the most fun of all.

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Throughout our climb, we came across the natural water massages. Our faculty really enjoyed the massages.

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After we finished with the falls, we went back to the Chukka camp for lunch, where we enjoyed music and one of Jamaica's famous dishes, jerk chicken. The next activity on the list was driving ATV's! The group found this interesting as this was a first time adventure for most of us. We each got to drive our own ATV as we made our way throughout the trails of the park. Our ATV excursion brought us to the edge of a cliff, where we each took a turn jumping 15 feet down into the warm, salty, ocean.

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The last stop on the list was Horse Back Ride n' Swim! Our guides assigned us horses according to our personality. We made our way one by one through the rocky trails which led us down by the bay where we got to experience riding horses in the ocean. We then moved on to part two: the swim! For this, we got to ride our horses bare back treading and swimming through the ocean which made for a very eventful excursion as many of us had never done something like this.

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There were two aspects of today that made it so memorable, exciting, and enjoyable. One aspect was the upbeat, inviting manner of all the guides at Chukka Adventure Park. Many jokes and laughs were exchanged throughout the day and each guide brought something different to the experience. The second was that each activity of the 4-play Chukka Adventure brought forth first time experiences for at least one person in our group. With that, our group bonded a little more, whether it was through support and encouragement when someone was nervous to try an activity, or lots of laughing and cheering with each other about accomplishing these eventful activities. I think we can say this for everyone today, that the excursions included in Chukka Adventure 4-play struck us in a way that made us think about coming back to Jamaica to re-do these excursions again and that Ocho Rios knows how to make an impact into a tourists vacation experience!

Thanks for reading!
Jen and Brittney

Posted by fscs_jamaica 19:05 Comments (0)

Day 3: Jamaica Defense Force & New Kingston

sunny 32 °C

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Today was the first day we travelled off campus as a group to explore the Jamaica Defense Force Military Base. This experience provided us with so much information and insight to how important the military force is to the people of Jamaica.

The day began with a presentation from Major Basil Jarrett who specializes as a liaison for JDF to connect the military and communities and focus on situations that require military aid. For example, he discussed the fact that a James Bond movie is currently being filmed in Jamaica and he authorized military presence to provide security and immediate help if injured. In his presentation we learned about the roles and responsibilities of the JDF. Some of these responsibilities include: defending against external aggression, disaster relief and recovery, counter-terrorism, peace support and much more. From a criminal justice standpoint it was interesting for us to consider how prevalent the military is here in Jamaica compared to Canada. A reason for this has to do with the fact that police corruption is a challenge for the people of Jamaica, therefore citizens rely on the military as oppose to the police. An interesting fact discussed was that the JDF is the most highly respected institution in Jamaica. More than the police, politicians, the church, etc. The Jamaican Defense Force provides a 1 year training recruitment program aimed to be an outlet for at-risk youth to replace the structure of gangs with the structure of military. After one year, the trainees can either become a member of the JDF or use it on their resume which provides more opportunity for employment. This training is required to become a member of the Jamaican Defense Force.

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Following our presentation from Major Basil we were given a tour of The Jamaican Military Museum. When we first entered the museum there was a World War 1 exhibit which they will be changing into a new exhibit soon. The exhibit gave examples and insight into what the World War 1 experience was like for Jamaican soldiers (life in the trenches). Unfortunately, we were only able to take photos in this first exhibit but the other room exposed us to a deeper history of the Jamaican military. This included artifacts dating all the way back to the Tainos people of Jamaica who made arrowheads out of stone. Other artifacts included the first uniforms, tanks and cannons. This was interesting because we were able to learn about the history of these important artifacts as well as the history of the Jamaican military.

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For lunch we travelled 10 minutes down the road into New Kingston where there were multiple food options. Some options included familiar fast food chains (Burger King, KFC, Starbucks) while some included authentic Jamaican food. Here is a photo of my lunch from Island Grill - Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas, Cherry Juice and French Fries. It was delicious!

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Returning from lunch we were given the opportunity to attended another presentation from a Major of the 1st Battalion who focused on the Zone of Special Operations, specifically in Denham Town. In July 2017, the Law Reform Act was passed in Jamaica enabling the ZOSO (Zone of Special Operations) Act. Zone of Special Operations is a crime fighting tool that is used in communities of very high levels of crime. Criteria of a zone includes the presence of gang warfare, rampant criminality, escalating violence and murder, threats to the rule of law and public order. Denham was the second ZOSO put into place starting on the 17th of October 2017. In the specific area of Denham Town where ZOSO is in operation there are 12 active gangs in a population of 8,500 people. ZOSO has 3 phases are focused on bettering the community. These phases are: 1. Clear (Clear of zone of wanted individuals and illegal weapons), 2. Hold (Prevention of re-entry), 3. Build (Maintain). Since the declaration of ZOSO the military has maintained presence and reported a decline in serious crime. ZOSO is a joint force including the Jamaican Defense Force and police.

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After an informative day at the military base we returned to campus where we had a group debrief of all the information learned today. It's interesting having these discussions with students from a variety of different social science programs to gain different perspectives. Overall it was a great opportunity and would 10/10 recommend.

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Posted by fscs_jamaica 14:24 Archived in Jamaica Tagged #livingmybestlife Comments (0)

Day 2: Intro to Jamaica's CJS AND Andrew's Birthday!

sunny 32 °C

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Today was a very informative day for all of us! We went on a Campus tour of the University of West Indies, Mona Campus. Along the way, we made some new friends and had some delicious coconuts!!

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We learned about the buildings on campus, including the library, which was very beautiful, as you can see here:

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This library on campus is open from 8:00am until 6:30am the next morning. This was super shocking to learn about, since at Humber our library is not accessible to that extent. The hours of operation alone tells us about the intensity and high expectations that UWI has for its students.

Our host, Dacia Leslie, Research Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at UWI, then took us to the University of West Indies Museum where we learned about the history of student protests, and briefly spoke with Ambassador Bernal, the Pro Vice Chancellor of Global Affairs at UWI.

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Before lunch, we were greeted by the Director of SALISES, Professor Aldrie Henry-Lee. After lunch, we headed straight into lectures. We listened to four speakers. The first lecture (by Sergeant Craig Welsh from the Jamaica Constabulary Force--JCF) was about community based policing, which is a concept that those of us in the Criminal Justice program are very familiar with and can advocate for its effectiveness. The second speaker (Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry from JCF) focused on human trafficking from an investigative perspective. He highlighted the lack of academic research surrounding the topic, and how Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean to have its own prevention of Human Trafficking focused unit as part of its police force. This made us all think - and realize that it really is a topic that is seldom spoken of in the academic world. The third lecture was delivered to us by a Correctional Officer (Overseer Noel Beckford), who explained the importance of rehabilitation of offenders within the correctional system. He spoke about reintegrating and rehabilitating inmates through workplace programs and providing educational opportunities in order to attempt to reduce recidivism in Jamaican Society. This is similar to theoretical frameworks that many of us have studied at Humber. The final presentation was a bit different, and not directly associated with the criminal justice system, but instead ties together all of the ideas that our previous lecturers spoke about. The lecture was about the UWI film project, an 8 week program where impoverished youth are approached and offered the opportunity to learn how to create films, from writing out ideas all the way into post production. After the 8 week course, the youths break up into groups and have 4 weeks to develop a film of their own, which is then showcased in a film festival. This program assists in providing youth who have many systemic barriers with the opportunity to network and intern with the local television station. At the end of this lecture, we viewed a trailer for one of the films in the upcoming festival, entitled "Children of the Incursion". This was a powerful trailer about a film that highlights a grave wrongdoing of law enforcement that caused severe trauma in many individuals, especially children.

The end of the lectures marked the end of our day. We broke up until after dinner and had our group debrief, and celebrated Andrew's birthday!! Here's a photo of Andrew and Ivan hanging by the pool while waiting for breakfast this morning:

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Happy birthday Andrew!

Posted by fscs_jamaica 18:59 Archived in Jamaica Tagged andrews_birthday Comments (0)

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