Jamaica offers service and bonding


Aiden Patel, Junior/All-Around

As they hugged their parents goodbye for the last time, mixed emotions filled the Bellarmine Courts for Kids team. Some were excited for the adventure, others nervous about what they had gotten themselves into, while most were somewhere in between. Their destination was the small community of York Castle, Jamaica where they would be tasked with building a multipurpose court. Before arriving in Jamaica the group, lead by teachers Tigre Garcia and Juile Hiles, had daunting travel schedule which included a red eye and an eight hour layover in Charlotte, and a thunderstorm delay in Miami. When the plane finally touched down in Kingston, there was suddenly energy and excitement from the group. Many had gotten little to no sleep but were now full of life.

The bus ride to the community was the groups first look at Jamaica during the day. As the bus climbed into the mountains, beautiful views of the island and ocean were present every turn until we finally reached York Castle. As each member of the group stepped off the bus, they were greeted with smiles and handshakes from the locals. The first two days at the community were more getting to know each other days were Bellarmine students and locals spent time and got to know each other better. On the first night, Bellarmine students and many locals walked to the field were they played a variety of games such as cricket, soccer and football.

The next three days were the labor days and with the help of the locals, the Bellarmine team worked from nine to five mixing, pouring and leveling the concrete. Junior Mason Daniels reflects on his experiences. “In the central community and acceptance that we all felt, and I loved how they accepted us as one blood.” The entire group was split into teams that rotated through jobs. Although the work was long and tiring the locals and Bellarmine’s team made the work experience fun and positive even when things got hard and frustrating. Finally, as the last piece of concrete dried the court was done, and right away the Bellarmine Team and locals hosted an opening ceremony and immediately had a big volleyball game. “Finishing the court and seeing the affect it had on such a nice community was very rewarding and a feeling I will never forget,” said junior Karla Aguayo.

The community and the Bellarmine Team spent the rest of the day enjoying the court by playing basketball, soccer and netball. When it was time for the Bellarmine Team to leave, it was a bittersweet moment. “Being able to see how people can live a completely different life than that of us in America changed the way I think of my lifestyle,” said junior Charlie Zelazny. Many of the students were beginning to miss home; however, they didn’t want to leave the community and their new friends. Although it was the last time the Bellarmine Team would be at York Castle, this wasn’t the end of the trip for them. The last day, the team went down to the water where they did cliff jumping into the Blue Lagoon. Lastly, they went to the beach were they swam in the Caribbean. The next day, they packed their things and headed to the airport and when they arrived back in Seattle, they were grateful for the experience, their new friends and the stories they had from the trip.