JAFSP  Student Testimonials

 
 

Cathleen Flynn,  St. Mary of the Woods College

JAFSP was a fulfilling and multi-faceted cultural immersion and volunteer experience. Through the exposure to Afro-Caribbean music and culture, training with skilled supervisors, and living among locals, I learned about Jamaican history and modern life. I knew that my work was making a difference, and I had so much fun doing it - the Jamaica Field Serivce Project is "voluntourism" at its finest!


Courtney Sweet, Sarah Lawrence College

I feel so lucky to have been given this experience because it changed my life.  I never knew I could feel love for a country and culture not my own, my passion for music and my belief in its power has increased exponentially, and I cherish every moment I had with the men, women, and children whose lives I touched. They think what we did for them was a miracle and a gift, but what they don't know is what they gave to me in return is so much more then I could ever ask for and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.


Kasey Brown, University of Western Ontario

It's such an easy, selfish thing for Americans to go into a third-world culture like that and feel guilt. But when you realize how strong these people are, and how content they've learned to be with what they have, there's no way you can take the easy way out. You learn to be strong with them; to not pity them, but rather to walk beside them, hold their hand, sing together, and smile together through music.


Christopher Santantasio, State University of NY at Potsdam

As you may know, I graduated this past May, and have been applying for teaching positions all over the state with little luck until recently.  Last week, I was offered a position to teach instrumental music grades 4-8, in the Syracuse City School District.  I was told they received over 70 applicants for the position.  I was also told that my application stood out because of my experience Jamaica.  I am forever indebted to you and the program for the considerable advantages that landed me my first teaching gig.  Thank you!


Beth Sluzewski, Wooster College

This trip was not only exciting and fun, but for me it was life changing.  Just by taking a step back, I learned just as much about my own culture as I did the people of Jamaica's.  I now have a more universal view of the world, and how similar people really are.  I realized how much our actions can influence people all across the planet.  I have gained the confidence to travel more and further expand my personal boundaries


Susanne Harris, Indiana University

I knew that the JAFSP would be a great experience, but I could not have anticipated how much it would affect me as a person. Being able to see the "real Jamaica" helped me to understand the culture and people better, and I feel sorry for the tourists that never get to see the parts of the island that we did. It has also helped me realize that service to others must be a part of my life, since there are so many that are so less fortunate than I am. Overall, it is an experience that I will always treasure.


Tyler Limieux, State University of New York at Potsdam

What I've gathered from my experience as a part of the JAFSP is difficult to summarize in that it's more than just the trip itself. It's the entire process of applying, preparing, traveling, being abroad, and returning home. This provided in itself an opportunity to seriously test my confidence as a person and find out what I was really capable of. Personally, I've learned more about myself as an anthropologist, musician, student, traveler, friend, and human being than I could have ever imagined.


Caressa Miller, Loyola University

The work we did in Jamaica made me proud. I saw the looks on the students faces when we showed up to the schools and when they showed up for lessons. It was one of the most rewarding experiences ever. The town, and the schools were so happy we were there and could not say enough great things about the work we were doing. This was truly an experience I will never forget.


Barbara Bastable, MTBC, Professor SMU

This was an incredible experience on so many levels: working with students in a different environment, learning about a different culture (you just don't get that as a typical tourist), and being a part of something that truly makes a difference.


Alika Seu, DePauw University

Going on this trip was the best decision I've ever made. It was the single most fulfilling experience of my life. Working at the schools was so much fun and the kids were so enthusiastic and willing to learn. The learning experiences that I had on this trip were numerous and priceless.


Jenn Jicha, SUNY Plattsburgh

JAFSP has truly changed my outlook on life and education.  From my time in the schools to the conversations and experiences with all those I met in Jamaica, I have completely grown as an individual.  As much as I've learned about other cultures from textbooks, lectures, and television, nothing can compare to experiencing it first-hand.  


Enid Van Treese,  Oklahoma State University

My experience with the Jamaica Service Field Project has inspired me in so many different ways.  I feel driven to dedicate my life to making the world a better place.  Although it is unclear what path I will take to accomplish that goal, JAFSP was the starting line.


Megan Graber, Charleston Southern University

This experience was so far beyond what I expected and hoped for. Since I have done a fair amount of traveling, I thought that I might have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Although this traveling background certainly prepared me for this trip, I was overwhelmed with the wealth of knowledge, relationships, and experience I gained. I can't even express my profound gratitude that I was able to be a part of such a powerfully impacting organization. JAFSP is truly a model program of service learning abroad.


Lauren Toll,  University of Western Ontario

My experience in Jamaica was life changing. I have a whole new perspective on life, and feel as though I have become a better person as a result. The children are incredibly accepting towards what we have to offer musically, and are amazingly appreciative. I would not trade my experience in Jamaica for anything, and would seriously recommend this opportunity to anyone who feels as though they can make a difference, because it's so easy to do so with the Jamaica Field Service Project.


Katelyn King, Duquesne University

This trip has been one of the most profound experiences of my life so far.  One of the main reasons that I wanted to come on this trip was to test my limits and really push my boundaries and it definitely met all of my expectations in that regard.  I have never before been able to be completely immersed and allowed to join in the local cultural experiences.  I would not trade the knowledge I have gained on this trip for anything.


Tracy Wanamaker, MT-BC, Professor, SUNY Potsdam

While in Jamaica the students have the unique opportunity to learn about and experience the vibrant Jamaican culture while doing volunteer work that has a visible positive impact on the people that the students are working with as well as on the students themselves.


Laura Frank, Seattle Pacific University

When I look back on my time in Jamaica, I remember a country that is beautiful on so many levels.  It's natural beauty is astounding, with new colors, flavors, and sounds that are incomparable to anywhere I've been yet. When I think about the people I met there, I think of how kind and gentle they were. Everyone was so welcoming, and willing to share their culture and what Jamaica has to offer. They found something to laugh about despite the circumstances they may be in.  


Elaine Vuong, Nazareth College

I never knew I could learn so much in so little time.  I learned about their culture through the course work we did before the trip, but when I arrived in Jamaica, the course work took a whole other meaning. I was in the same country that these events had taken place.  How often can one say that?


Mark Graham, Trinity College - Dublin Ireland

I just hope that the kids in the school enjoyed the experience half as much as I did. I think the trip wouldn't have been as rewarding or as fulfilling without the work that we did in the schools. I found it interesting to see how the group grew new skills and improved existing skills during the work in the schools.


Jeffrey Samataro, Berkley College of Music

Going to Jamaica with the JAFSP was one of the most positive and fulfilling experiences of my life. I learned so much about drums and teaching and have a way better understanding of my own culture and life now. I would do this again in a heartbeat and I'm already looking forward to reapplying for future trips. My whole attitude towards teaching has changed for the better thanks to Eric Willis and his wonderful program. I can't thank you enough!


Sarah Gumson, SUNY Plattsburgh

Before the trip, I had no idea what to expect. It is literally impossible to imagine or even explain to others how much of an impact this trip made on my life. It was such an amazing experience to learn about the culture and the Jamaican people by seeing and participating first hand


Jennifer Tressa, Southern Methodist University

The experiences I had working with the Jamaican Field Service Project created memories that will last a lifetime. It created bonds and friendships and connections, and it was a learning experience and an adventure all in one. The Jamaican Field Service Project was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life!


Courtney Ingold, University of Dayton

This was an all-over life changing experience for me.  I learned a great deal about Jamaican life and culture even though we were there for a relatively short time.  The land was so different than anything I have ever seen and being able to hike with local Rastas who were able to answer questions along the way was something I would never have otherwise been able to experience.  It was also eye opening to see people in such a poor country that were happier than many middle-class Americans.  


Katie Fitch , University of Iowa

This trip was a big eye-opener for me. I learned so much about Jamaica, music therapy, and myself! The supervisors were wonderful and supportive. The other students were all excited to learn and explore. I will never forget this trip to Jamaica. I hope many other students will have the opportunity to participate in the JAFSP.


Evelyn Selesky, MT-BC,  Professor Molloy College

JAFSP is an intense immersion experience in cultural music therapy which is incredibly rewarding, enriching & educational on a variety of levels.  Students discover strengths they didn't know they had, and develop their skills musically & therapeutically.  


Tanner Denne, Eastern Oregon University

It's hard to find anything to say about the most amazing experience of your life and Jamaica was that for me.  I met people that I will never forget and had so many experiences that changed me as a person. I left Jamaica a better person with the simple and honest values of a people who see no color or creed as a barrier between members of one family.


Michael Loughran, Penn State University

It seems cliche, but the trip has changed my life. I left Jamaica with a new found appreciation for life at home, but also an appreciation for the people I worked with. I saw how important music was in every single Jamaican's life and through their intense feeling towards music I saw my passion for music grow once again. Through this experience I have grown and have already begun to change my music ed philosophy because of this experience.


Genevieve Aaron, SUNY Potsdam

My trip to Jamaica was for me a once in a life time opportunity, until I decided that it wouldn't be my last trip there. It was a chance to make a difference in the lives of others. I felt that it was not only rewarding but left an impression on my soul.  Meeting knew people with similar goals and learning along side them was an experience I will keep with me the rest of my life.


Aimee Hinote, University of Louisville

There are not enough words to describe the experience of being immersed in a culture so saturated with music and history. The people are so kind, generous and helpful. The men, women and children that I had the pleasure of working with have left a foot print on my heart and have truly changed my life.


Courtney DeRienzo, Hartt School of Music

The students were welcoming and excited and a pleasure to work with! It was amazing to be immersed in a completely different culture and to adapt and learn from it.  I felt that we weren't just teaching the students music or reading, but about ourselves, our culture and the place we come from.  I've done week long summer camps where I have taught music before, but this was completely different.  We were able to connect with the students on a whole different level.


Keisha Baisden, University of Miami

I feel as though we changed lives, these people will remember us forever...The developing world is in dire need of caring individuals who are dedicated to improving the quality of life of their peers. Working in Jamaica proved this.


Natalie Boechel, University at Buffalo

My experience in Jamaica was absolutely incredible. I learned more living in Jamaica for 10 days than I have my entire life. It made me put my life in a whole new perspective, and really has made me appreciate everything I have.


Alyson Ryall, Southern Methodist University

I LOVE learning about other cultures and their daily lives. Thus, experiencing the life of a coconut farmer was truly eye-opening. My favorite part by far was the long and beautiful hike to the falls-such a refreshing swim in a gorgeous waterfall! Of course all of our time on the numerous beaches was much appreciated and taking surf lessons was so much fun.


Shana Sumers, Shenandoah University

I was able to step outside my comfort zone and accomplish so much while making great friends and learning the lifestyle of a completely different culture.  This is a life changing experience that will forever stay ingrained in your heart.


Sarah Schul, University of Delaware

Not only did I learn about a new culture and gain experience in teaching, I also learned about myself and how I would like to participate in my world.  The people were amazing, the place was amazing, the opportunity was amazing! I would recommend the trip to anyone excited to learn (about basically anything)!


Julia Raphael,  Eastern Michigan University

The whole experience was worth every penny for me.  From beautiful Great Huts, (where we stayed) to the amazing people I met within JAFSP and within the community of Boston Bay, to helping in the infirmary and the School of Hope. I am so thankful to have been a part of the experience and am planning on going on the trip again. I learned invaluable information that will help me throughout my career and throughout my life. 


Melanie Hamilton, University of Western Ontario

Jamaica's service learning project was an amazing first time teaching experience! I will never forget the relationships I made with the students and the lessons they taught me. I cannot wait to share my experiences with other students from Canada!  


Tom Loughlin, Professor, State University of New York at Fredonia

Everything about the project showed an attention to detail. It was well organized and well executed, and I can truly say that everyone on the trip not only had a good time, but had an incredible learning experience as well.


Veronica Greenan, Molloy College

The food, the music, the scenery and the hospitality are just a few of the many treasures of this island. The culture is rich in spirit and love. I went to Jamaica to help teach music but instead I was the pupil. I learned a lot from the students and the people of Jamaica.

Liz Crombie, University of Dayton

This trip was absolutely amazing. There's no other way to put it. Working with the kids in the special needs school, I think I absolutely had some of my finest moments.  I can't put into words how amazing it was to be able to live like we did and interact with the locals, everyone down there is just so kind and friendly.


Katie Hovda, Augsburg College

This trip was so magical that I know my words won't even scratch the surface of the amount that I have learned from this trip, intellectually as well as spiritually. I went into this on blind faith from the very beginning and it reaped many blessings for me personally as well as the other individuals we served.


Hannah Bronson, Baldwin-Wallace University

It is hard for me to put into words exactly what my experience with JAFSP means to me. I will never forget what it was like to work with people so appreciative of what we offered. Every aspect of this trip allowed me to get the "big picture" and a true sense of what Jamaica, its music, and people is really all about. I will carry what I gained on this trip with me for forever!


Meredith Harvey, Southern Methodist University

I absolutely loved the drumming class! I was so glad to learn about the different drumming styles for each parish, and I am glad that we were given the notation for each style in case I forget! Eric's teaching style was also great- he broke it down for us if we were having trouble, and gave us word phrases to help us remember the beat pattern.


Elizabeth Paccione, Drexel University

I have altered my list of favorite foreign travels to include Jamaica at the top!  I met wonderful people, made extraordinary new friends, visited amazing places, and received a priceless education about the country and its people. I am lucky to have witnessed the beauty of this country. I commit myself to continually share my experiences and wonderful memories with others and to “walk good”.  


Kendall Joplin, Sam Houston State University

I loved going to Jamaica. Not only did I get to learn more about my major, but I also learned a lot about a culture completely different than mine. I got to go on some of the best excursions and tours I've ever been on and I made some amazing friends along the way.


Melissa Abrams, SUNY Fredonia

My overall experience on the Jamaica Field Service Project is one that can barely be described in words. Not only did I have the time of my life meeting new people and going on new adventures, but I was able to experiences a new culture. I was able to see a child's eye light over a single box of new crayons. I was able to help two best friends that has been fighting for months re-unite. I was able to develop a better sense of appreciation for the things that I have. In Jamaica I was able to grow as a person and a professional in a way that wouldn't be possible in America.


Lynnae Novak, Alverno College

The Jamaica Field Service Project is life changing. From interacting with fellow students, professionals, and supervisors I learned to work with others, gained leadership experience, and made valuable connections and friendships.


Ashly Bielec, Buffalo State College

Working in the schools was very beneficial and rewarding for myself from a personal standpoint as well as a student. The children were so eager to learn and engage in activities. The program was professional and well structured. After working with the kids the first day I felt really confident with the impact that my help and knowledge had on the children. 


Joanna Calahan, University of Evansville

The Jamaica Field Service Project gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves by trying new things, serve others, and gain an appreciation for another culture. Students grow academically, musically, and independently as they learn about themselves and what the world around them offers


Kaci Watkins, Arizona State University

I had an absolutely amazing experience! I expected to make a difference in the students' lives by bringing music to their schools, but I had not anticipated its impact on my own life as well. I made so many new friends and learned more about myself as a teacher.  I loved experiencing the culture of Jamaica through the locals, the schools, the group excursions, and the drum lessons with Eric. I will definitely consider another trip next year!


Jenna Wheat, University of Wisconsin Oskosh

The trip was truly an amazing experience.  I couldn't have asked for more.  I was very nervous going on a trip where I literally knew no one in a group of 40 to make friends that I hope to have for the rest of my life.  I not only taught the students at the schools about music but they taught me as well to be thankful for what you have and to be grateful for what you are given.  This trip was one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.  Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am eternally grateful.  


Beth Sommerfeld, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

The work here was an amazing experience. Being at the school with the kids and seeing their faces was so moving. They were so happy to be a part of the music and loved to play along and sing. You are immersed in the life and breath of the real Jamaica and not an all inclusive resort. Going on this trip was an amazing experience!


Justin Winter, SUNY Plattsburgh

JAFSP is one of the greatest opportunities I have ever experienced. The whole trip is life changing and something I want to do over and over again. The staff, drivers, and people who you will encounter on the trip are the nicest people you will ever meet.


Alec Walter, University of Toronto

The experience was amazing. When someone goes to an all-inclusive resort it is hard for them to truly see the country and meet the people. It was a joy to teach in a primary school and hang out with the students there. The trip has left me with a great appreciation for Jamaica and many new friends who were part of the group.


Sheila Cronin , University of the Incarnate Word

I went to Jamaica to bring its people joy and to show them compassion. I left Jamaica having received more joy and compassion from them than I could ever imagine. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that the Jamaica Field Service Project offers. Saying a trip like this is life changing might be cliche, but it is so very true. This was an enlightening experience I hope to never forget.


Rachel Markovich,  Immaculata University

Working with the people of Jamaica was a life changing experience. Eric has a great thing going in Jamaica. He is welcomed into the community and respected by all of the locals. As the trip sizes continue to rapidly increase, he will have a profound impact on the country of Jamaica.


Alyssa Halfman, University of Wisconsin

Eric, you did a wonderful job organizing this trip! The sights, the sounds, the tastes, and the people—all were truly amazing. You offer us the opportunity to see and do so much—and you even manage to keep everyone in line! I had such a great time and will never forget it. Thank you for all you have done for us and the people of Jamaica.


Darlene Halsted, SUNY Potsdam

One of the best experiences of my college education, I would highly recommend this course for anyone of interest. There isn't a better way to experience the island in the sun, than with the expert guides and friendly locals. The schools were welcoming and appreciative of our work. It was a motivating and peaceful experience to share culture with other people and to make a positive difference in the lives of the Broughton children.


Chris Batell, California Lutheran University

 The trip was an amazing experience and taught me so much about the Jamaican culture, traditions, and lifestyle. I think its important to take a little bit of what you learn when you go to a place like this and take the knowledge with you wherever you go and I am definitely going to be doing this. There wasnt one bad thing about the trip and its hard for me to choose a favorite experience because it honestly just got better and better even the day we departed I enjoyed my time with everyone. I think this is such an amazing opportunity that you offer and wish you all the luck in the world in the future, even though I know you're success will be huge. 


Megan Fee, Utah State University

The most amazing thing about this trip was how I feel in love with the people of Jamaica and heard their stories, felt their pain, and saw their smiles. It was life-changing, and I can't wait to go back! Keep up the good work Eric! This program is amazing! And I am so glad I got to be apart of it!


Aaron Ingley, Allegheny College

I had a blast on the Jamaican field service project study abroad trip.  I was able to be immersed in a culture that i knew relatively little about from which I was able to learn a lot.


Sam Crouse. University of Maryland

I really enjoyed working in the schools. It was my first time really having a teaching experience and it was definitely amazing. I enjoyed working with the other students on the trip as well as the kids we taught.


Andrea Tabor, SUNY New Paltz

This trip really was an experience of a lifetime. I learned so much more in the eleven days then I ever thought I would. I came home with not only knowledge about Jamaica, but a different outlook on life. I had so many experiences in Jamaica that I will remember and carry with me forever. This trip was so fun and also rewarding in many ways.


Dr. Joni Milgram-Luterman, MT-BC, Professor SUNY Fredonia

Eric has developed a program that is the opportunity of a lifetime, and one I know I will not soon forget. Everyone involved - students, chaperones, as well as local citizens benefit deeply from the Jamaica Field Service Project.


Melissa Paulsen, Baldwin-Wallace

This was the best trip I’ve ever been on. I learned so much and meet some many great friends that will stick with me in my field for the remainder of my life. The things I learned could not have been taught anywhere else and made that big of an impact on me. I loved every second of this trip and would encourage anyone to go and have just as an amazing experience as I did.


Catherine Black , University of Georgia

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I first signed up for this trip, but I'm so glad that I went!I had more experience in a week than I would have had in a semester at school. After all that experience, I'm so glad that I choose to go on this trip and am even more excited about my profession!


Emily O'Neil, Southern Methodist University

My experience in Jamaica was magnificant. I have never learned so much about culture, health, people, and music in such a short amount of time. The clincal experience was some of the most valuable I will ever have. Also, the landscape and beaches are completely breath-taking. The hiking and experiences are once in a life-time opportunities. It was more than worth the work I did to get there.


Matt McKeever, Webster University

I can say now with certainty that any expectations I did have before the trip were vastly exceeded. The excursions and tours were fantastic, and the teaching was unbelievably rewarding. I am so happy to have had an experience that was so enjoyable and educational.


Karen Moore, Wright State University

This has been an experience that will stay with me forever. I have a new understanding of the Jamaican culture and it has opened my eyes to traveling to  unique countries and meeting different people. I obtained valuable experience in teaching in the schools and have also gained the friendships of wonderful individuals. Jamaica will always hold a piece of my heart.


Jamie Artman, Western Michigan University

My experience in Jamaica was inspiring, eye opening and awe inspiring. The spirit of the Jamaican people reinforced my belief that we truly are all the same as human beings and we all have the same basic needs and wants. I will never forget the work we did there, and I hope it at least touched a few souls, as it has dramatically touched mine.


Lillian Chisholm, SUNY Plattsburgh

My experience working in Jamaica was one of the most eye opening, emotionally moving, and fulfilling experiences that I've ever had.  I learned so much about the Jamaican culture and way of life, and the music was so freeing.  It was clear with all of the smiles and thanks that we received that the volunteer work we did was greatly appreciated.  There is no better feeling than knowing that you helped to make a difference in someone's life, and while participating in this program I really felt that I was a part of something great.  


Caitlin McGuire , University of Missouri Kansas City

I've always heard of people saying that they have had one experience that changes their life forever, but I never really believed that one event could be that significant. However, after my work in Boston Bay I completely understand. I am so grateful to the JAFSP program and staff for giving me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and see the great impact music can have on the lives of others.


Heiderose Barth, University of North Dakota

I could not have imagined such an incredible learning experience. Going on this trip has blessed in so many ways. It was the perfect combination of clinical experience, cultural diversity, and personal growth. I am so thankful to everyone who has been an influential part in promoting this program.  


Lindsey Cheek, Ohio University

This Jamaica trip was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.   It was presented to us as an adventure, music lesson, and culture lesson all in one.  What a beautiful, rewarding package!  I would do it over again in a heartbeat.

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