Here are just a few responses from the community who have shared an exeperience with us in Jamaica.
"One of the most compelling aspects to the i am VolunTourism program is a genuine, not-often-seen-and-felt respect for people who take the time (and resources) to travel to the Caribbean basin to volunteer their expertise with sheltered and under-privileged youth. As a teacher, coach and advocate for youth development, I was drawn to the mission of the organization and enlightened by the purpose of its work."
D. Homer - Head Girls Soccer Coach at Episcopal Highschool, VA
"I just got back from a voluntourist vacation and it was fabulous! We did a bit of touring and then got involved in a community where we taught a drama camp to young people in the region of Lover's Leap. I would highly recommend this alternative way to travel and really get to experience a new culture."
M. Dueck - University of Regina alumnus from Canada and two-time Drama Volunteer Camp participant
"Jamaica was one of the best experiences of my life. I got to be part of a unique experience incorporating volunteer service, soccer training, and to look at Jamaica's simple yet incredible lifestyle. My mornings started early and usually kicked off with Tai Chi Chuan and swimming at the beach to awaken the body. Next our breakfast was classic Jamaican foods such as Ackee and Salt Fish and a green, leafy vegetable called Callaloo that was packed with vitamins and nutrients. As the day progressed I usually met new people, tried a new dish, went on a tour, did fitness training exercises in the outdoors, or volunteered in a community camp or workshop."
The simple soccer camps we held for the communities that directly benefitted from our visit brought hope to the local athletes. This part of my sports volunteer outreach was great because it showed the participants that someone does care, that I am genuinely interested in how my travel experience impacts their lives, and that they too can achieve their sports and academic goals. Not many students my age have the chance to go to a foreign country and be a part of how that country's people live, work, and interact. It's a life-changing experience. Not many students my age have developed the ability to be open to certain cultural differences or imagining life without certain conveniences such as no hot showers on a cool morning, traveling on bumpy roads in a small van like many everyday people do, or social differences (and similarities) between the United States and Jamaica."
The soccer training I received was incredible. I was also able to incorporate all of what I had been learning in friendly games that Chris and I played against the community. Going to Jamaica taught me a lot about myself and the value of the opportunities that we have in the U.S. I also learned about the natural lifestyle, friendly people and strong culture that i am VolunTourism communities in Jamaica willingly share. This trip also gave me extra motivation to reach my goal of becoming not only a professional soccer player with a long and successful career but also to be a role model that gives back in simple ways to a community or child in need."
S. Ramirez - Ronald Reagan High School student and Sports Ambassador participant from Florida
"The amazing thing about my trip to Jamaica for volunteering in Travel and Train Camps Jamaica last summer 2011, was working alongside the very young Jamaican athletes and performing arts students, as well as the student-athletes that came from the United States. I saw kids that had a lot of natural ability and was able to train them, while training myself. They had so much talent in sports, dance and drama and were filled with joy even if they had no shoes or training clothes to train in. It's a beautiful thing to see people that just loved sports, dancing and life in general. Working with them taught me a lot about myself and life. I can't wait to be back for camps in Jamaica next summer 2012."
A. Odembo - Howard Community College student - daughter of the Honorable Elkanah Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the United States and his wife, Mrs. Aoko Midiwo-Odembo