SUMMER TRIP SPOTLIGHT: Douglas Castle, Jamaica And a HUGE shout out to AOII at University of Alabama!!

Douglas Castle, Jamaica:  Where the mountains meet the sea.

From my journal January 3, 2018:

We left Montego Bay this morning at 8:30 a.m. headed toward Ochos Rios on Philip Goldston Hwy.  This highway is the main highway that is used to travel between most of the big cities along the Northern coastline.  

There is a good portion of the ride where you can look to your left and see the turquoise waters of the calm, majestic Caribbean Sea.  The highway is lined with beautiful landscape.  Palm trees and fruit trees to the left and rolling hills to the right spotted with beautiful green foliage.  This goes on for miles until after we leave St. Annes Bay, a small coastal town with amazing food and the hustle and bustle of people going on about their day.  We stopped in St. Anne's Bay for lunch and a quick visit to the bank (well, quick might be a little over stated.) 

We ate lunch at a little restaurant situated at the top of a narrow flight of stairs in a two story building on a side street away from most of the people conducting business on foot on the main drag.  Lunch consisted of the most amazing jerk chicken with rice and peas and "vegetables" that is literally what we would call cole slaw in the U.S.  It was super amazing.  And extremely fresh. 

Once we were done with lunch we headed back out for our hour and a half journey into the beautiful sweet smelling mountains near Nine Mile, the birth place of the legendary Bob Marley.   The ride was full of pot holes and good conversation and seemed a great deal shorter than the time showed it had been.  When we got high up in the mountains I could look out of the window to my left and literally see where the Caribbean Sea met the coastline of this beautiful country.  Far above any beaches I could see the majestic beauty of this island that I've made my second home.  The mountains made their way down to the coast as if they were arms, open...waiting to greet the newest wave of visitors.   I really had never seen such beauty. 

When we arrived in Douglas Castle residents there came up to the car to greet Dr. Douglas (yes the name is part of the town's name) as they were excited to see the former resident that had departed so long ago to go fulfill her dreams and education in the United States.  It had been six years since the last time they saw her.  Everyone was so excited she was home that when they saw her in the car they would come over to greet her and see how she was.  Even the deaf man, who knew no sign language, but could communicate with everyone by reading lips and making hand gestures.  It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.   There is one road into and out of Douglas Castle.  We were on it.  I couldn't help but think it felt as if we were the main attraction in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade even though we were the only car traveling through.  

We met with the local early childhood school principal and went over how we could best help her community and learn from what they were doing there in regards to education.   We assessed the site at which our service learners would be working and talked about where we would house the students to immerse them into the community there.  We toured the local church which is currently serving as the make shift classrooms for the children while they construct a new building down the road.   As the church is small, and the accommodations are challenging to say the least, there are times when they can not have school because some of the classrooms would be exposed to the elements if it rained.  I saw the reason for the hurried nature of the new construction happening as we toured the church.  

Then, as quickly as it felt we came into the community, we had to say our goodbyes to make the journey back down out of the mountains to where we were staying in Montego Bay.  But not before we made way to Nine Mile so I could pay my homage to the much respected Bob Marley.  As a historian who specializes in slavery and civil rights, I can not tell you the magnitude of my gratitude for my tour guides taking me there to see this iconic place.  I knew it would have to be an excursion for the service learners as well. 

Our journey back ( a different way) took me through different towns with more amazing food.  One thing about Jamaica, you will never be hungry there.  

Want to see this awesome and amazing place and learn about the community while living there for 10 days in June?  Make sure to apply today so we can get you started!! 

TRIP BREAKDOWN:  10 Days/9 Nights  July 7-17, 2018 ALL INCLUSIVE OF MEALS, EXCURSIONS, TRIP INSURANCE, TRANSPORTATION AND SITE SUSTAINABILITY.  

EXCURSIONS INCLUDE:  APPLETON RUM PLANTATION, BLUE MOUNTAIN COFFEE PLANTATION, NINE MILE (BOB MARLEY), DUNN'S RIVER FALLS, NEGRIL (RICK'S CAFE) 

PRICE:  $1875.00 plus airfare  $350.00 deposit; payments monthly following. 

 

We visited with AOII at University of Alabama this week and they were AMAZING!! They were awesome at our Kahoot game and asked GREAT questions!!  Since they were so awesome we are giving away another COUPON in their honor!!!  If you mention "AOII" in the coupon section of the application, we will give you $50.00 off the trip of your choice!!! So hurry and get your savings!! If you are an AOII member you get $75.00 off!!!

 

THIS IS ONE OF THREE GREAT TRIPS DEPARTING THIS SUMMER!! FOR MORE INFORMATION REGARDING CHEROKEE NATION OR BELIZE PLEASE VISIT:

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Summer Service Learning Trips are Heating Up!

Summer Service Learning Trips are Hot Hot Hot!

Want to know what we do when we go on these trips?  Take a look at the video below of our fall trip to Belize!

We've been out and about talking in classes to students just like you about all the amazing trips we have to offer for our summer service learning and they are getting super excited about having somewhere to go.passionately. during their summer break!!  

Here's a breakdown of the trips we've got going on this summer.  Don't wait!  Apply today to reserve your spot!  They are already going super fast!

CHEROKEE NATION  Talequah Oklahoma June 2018 working with the Methodist Children's home for unplaced foster kids and aging out foster kids and also head start.  We will work and live in the community while learning all about the culture through the Heritage Center, Cultural night, learning basket weaving, story telling and seeing a replica village.  Plenty of things to do on this one!  Don't miss out on this amazing week!

BLAST IN BELIZE  Belize City, Belize  late June 2018  This is one you DEFINITELY don't want to miss!  We love Camp T.O.U.C.A.N.!!  This will be our second annual summer camp and we have so much fun the kids never want us to leave!! Water fights, team building skills, fun healthy ways to eat, financial literacy, progressing literacy skills and we do all of this and they have so much fun they don't even know we are disguising the learning as FUN!! We will also explore Belize through cave tubing, zip lining, Mayan Ruins, a boat adventure to a barrier island, snorkeling, and swimming with stingrays and sharks!!  WHAT???!!!??

DOUGLAS CASTLE JAMAICA  July 8-17 Travel with us to the mountains of Jamaica where Bob Marley was born and is buried (which we will go see!) where there are gorgeous waterfalls you can CLIMB and where we will stay within a community while they host a homecoming for all of the residents that grew up there that have moved to different parts of Jamaica or even overseas!  We will work with children there showing them integrated learning concepts while making a fun half day camp that includes showing them how to eat healthy fun snacks, fun ways to learn financial literacy and more!   Come with us as we explore Jamaican culture, cuisine and become part of the family.  We can promise you, you will never want to leave!

 

Until next time,

~~Jennifer

Her name is Leah...

The day I forgot to think about me...

I live in Atlanta.  Weather here is as bi-polar as it gets.  Hot, humid, cool, humid, rainy, humid, hurrican--y, humid, snowy and humid.  I can take the heat with the best of them.  I have traveled to quite a few different Caribbean countries and experienced more hot......humid.........heat than any one person should have to endure in a lifetime.  It gets pretty freaking hot in Atlanta in July...... same in Belize.

So, it came as no surprise to me when I was in Belize at the end of July with a group of service learners that (excuse my southernism here) I was sweating like a "stuck pig."  It was hot, my hair was in a deep state of frizz unlike any frizz it had known before it. If any of you have ever netflix binged on the series "Friends" there's an episode where Monica is in the Caribbean and her hair is having a full on frizz on steroids affliction.  I was Monica in this moment.   Made no difference.  I was about to take on 86 kids ages 3-12.  I could handle it right?  

The day started out ridiculously loud.  86 kids that have no idea who is in charge and really don't care, makes for a loud insanely crazy mess of a mess day that leaves one feeling as if the bus just hit them, backed up and invited 78 of his bus friends to come and help him hit you again.  You try to claw and clutch your way out of the hole that exists in time during those insane 7 hours to regroup and figure out where it all went wrong.  And then you go back the next day and shut that down like the beast boss you are because it's eat or be eaten.  And I wasn't ready to be 86 kids next chicken thigh.  Y'all hear what I'm sayin?

But on this first hot, ridiculously humid day, there was a little girl that caught my eye.  Quiet. Just sitting there observing trying to see who she wanted to trust and who she knew she couldn't.  I watched her for a few minutes and then kept kind of inching closer to her.  Finally, as she was making dirt pudding in her snack crafts class, I went up to her and started talking to her.  She didn't talk back to me.  She looked down.  I sat down next to her.  Moved closer and said, "Before this week is over, we will be BFF's."  She still didn't say anything but there was a small upward bend in the side of her mouth that indicated she might be trying to hide a smile.  Her name was Leah. Affectionately now and forever more known as "Miss Sass." 

Leah spent the day quietly figuring me out.  I knew she needed time and I let her have it.  More and more during the day she would move closer to me and eventually started asking if she could help me clean.  I told her, "Absolutely!!!" and gave her some small chores to do to assist me.  After she would finish each task I would tell her how amazingly she did and she would smile a little more each time.  Leah was starting to trust me.  Finally toward the end of the day she was hugging me and asking me about my life, my family, how many kids I had etc.  She let herself trust me enough to figure out what I was doing there.   As the week went on I saw Leah open up to all of the teachers, asking them if she could help or do a task that we needed help with.  The other teachers started to catch on and let her help them as well.  But she would always find me in the crowd and come give me big Leah hugs.   Leah was letting her heart open, Leah needed to feel that warmth and love from whomever would give it to her.   She had found her place if even just for a week. She was finding a reason to feel confident and wanted. 

Leah was no different that most of the other students we had at the camp.  They came everyday to understand their purpose to try to get a handle on the craziness in the world around them.  They come from homes without electricity or running water and 99% of them don't have clean drinking water on a daily basis.  Most of their parents are either addicted to heroin some of them are HIV/AIDS positive.  Some of them have lost their parents to one or both.  They wake up every morning trying to make sense of a world that there's little sense to be made. 

When I am speaking to classes, I tell them the story about how these kids got hot meals every day at camp. And every day like clockwork you would have them asking us to write their names on their meals so they could only eat half of them and take the rest home....most of the time not for themselves.....rather for other family members they knew would not have eaten that day.   

And that first day, in all its crazy hectic chaos I found myself not once thinking of how hot I was, where the sweat was dripping from, if or when I would eat, or when the day would end so I could get off of my feet.  I watched them all in disbelief as they smiled and laughed and teased their friends and made fun of the teachers.  I watched as they begged for additional "water pouches" to quench their thirsts so much that they wouldn't have to worry about it when they got home for the night.  I watched.  And I was amazed.  I was amazed at how they had all adapted to their normal.  How they just needed to be kids amidst the craziness and understand that for a hot second in time someone was there to ease their burdens if just for that crazy one day.  

After watching that I understood the next day why 99 kids showed up instead of 86.  I understood why they were sad that we didn't do a Saturday Sendoff instead of a Friday end to camp.  They didn't want it to end.  

Neither did I.  

They taught me so much.  Me.  This mom of six 46 year old person who thought she had the whole thing figured out.  I learned how to....not think about myself at all.... in one day.  

 

If you aren't doing a service learning trip now.........do one later.........explore.........find out who you want to be in life.......experience another culture, language, lifestyle than your own I promise you it will change your perspective on all.the.things. 

If you can't do a service learning trip, do something.  Get out in your community, ask someone where you can help, find your purpose through someone else's eyes, ears, nose, and tastebuds.  Feel life.  Feel adventure.  Give back.  Just give.  

We have spring and summer spots available so that you can go meet Leah.  She's quite the celebrity now.  She's featured on Ardenti's video about summer camp.  Her smile lights up a room and she will change your world forever.  Come with us during your spring break and see how working in a community other than your own makes you see things through a whole other lens.  If you can't come spring, come with us in the summer.  If you can't do it now there are ways you can help and give to this community or others. Feel free to contact us to find out how.  

If you would like to help provide clean drinking water for this community we are asking at this time for everyone to donate the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks so that Ardenti can provide these kids with drinking water fountains in their community.  You can donate here:

If you would like to sign up for one of the few spaces we have available for spring break or for our summer camp you can apply here:

Live. Laugh. Give. Love. Travel. See things.  Understand Compassion. and

Go.Passionately.

Until next time,

It's been fun chatting.

~~~Jennifer

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Leah and her smile...

Fall Fell, Spring Sprung and Summer is HEATING UP!!

WOW!!  RECORD BREAKING!!

You guys were ON IT!!  We filled our Fall trip, we only have a few more spaces open for Spring (HURRY UP THEY ARE GETTING FILLED FAST) and because we had such an AMAZING response we felt it was a good idea to open up summer registration!!  WHAT WHAT??!!

 

Here's all the 411 about our summer program:

  • 16 days/15 nights in Belize City Belize  Dates:  July 6, 2018 through July 21, 2018 
  • Hosting a summer camp for kids for 11 days focusing on literacy, social issues and just having a good old fashioned kick ass time. 
  • Stay in a dorm style bed and breakfast within the community
  • 4 different excursions including ziplining and cave tubing, mayan ruins, snorkeling, and a TBD excursion closer to trip date.
  • All Breakfasts and two group meals covered
  • All excursions covered
  • All lodging, transportation (except airfare) and insurance covered

COST FOR TRIP:  2100.00 + airfare (Around $450.00 ) 

There's a few ways you can do the program fees:

  1.  Pay deposit now,  monthly $300.00 starting November 1, 2017 Final Payment due June 1, 2018
  2.  Pay deposit now, three bigger payments due November 15,  February 15 and May 15 of $600.00
  3.  Pay in full at time of application and deposit.

And for those of you who still want to get in on the spring break action here are the deets on that trip:

  • 10 days/9 nights  Dates: March 9-18, 2018
  • Hosting after school literacy program in Belize City for kids at the Unity School in the Colett District and at the Gateway Center.
  • Stay in dorm style bed and breakfast with house hosts Lewis and Julia (who happen to be the most AWESOMEST people in all the land) 
  • 2 kick ass excursions cave tubing and zip lining and snorkeling
  • local field trips to hospital, University of West Indies and more
  • Shopping trip
  • All Breakfasts and two group meals covered
  • All excursions covered
  • All lodging, transportation (except airfare) and insurance covered

COST FOR TRIP:  $1490.00 + airfare (around $450.00 to $500.00) 

Also ways to pay for this trip: 

  1. Pay deposit now, monthly payments of 198.33 starting October 1, 2017 ending March 1, 2018
  2. Pay deposit now, two lump sum payments of $595.00 November 15, 2017 and January 15, 2018
  3. Pay in full now and go shopping for Caribbean clothes!! 

THIS TRIP ONLY HAS 3 MORE SPOTS REMAINING.  ACT FAST THEY WILL FILL QUICKLY!!

 LOOK!!  ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE RUNNING TO SIGN UP!! YOU BETTER MOVE QUICKLY!!

LOOK!!  ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE RUNNING TO SIGN UP!! YOU BETTER MOVE QUICKLY!!

Act Now!  No need to wait!  Apply at the link below and we will get you on your way to Beautiful Belize for Spring or Summer break!!

It's been fun chatting, 

 

Until next time!!

 

~~Jennifer

Last Call for Fall!!

Last Call for Fall Y'all!! 

Hey Guys, 

 We are winding down now for recruiting for our fall trip to Belize and I spoke in some really fun classes this week!!  Shout out to UNG Oconee Campus for being super engaged and asking the BEST questions and to Alpha Omega Epsilon Sorority at University of Alabama for sitting through my lame jokes and still making me feel good about it by laughing...  We finish up Thursday the 21st of September at the UNG Volunteer fair so UNG Gainesville Students, stop by and see us for those amazing free things you like for us to give to you!!  

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Here are the things you need to know so you can be a part of this amazing fall program:

  • The first three people to sign up between now and Sunday September 24th will get their deposit of $300.00 waived.  That's right that is $300.00 off the total cost of the program!!  
  • You need to act fast.  Because we are also offering payment plans for this trip it will go quickly so that means click below to go sign up now!

  • Don't worry.  If you don't make the fall trip sign up, and you want to do our spring trip, registration is open for that now as it was requested that we open it so people could go ahead and reserve their spots!!  Spring trip is during spring break and what could be better than hanging out in Belize for your spring break??  But don't wait.... those spots are flying!!

  • Can't go Fall or Spring??  We've got you covered.  Email me at jennifer@ardentiservicelearning.com and let me know you want to be a part of our 2 week summer program and you will get priority sign up a week before registration opens for everyone else!!  

THERE IS NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT TO         Go. Passionately. 

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It has come to my attention there is something REALLY REALLY bad going on here....

You guys, 

I am not going to post this huge long cray cray blog this week but I am going to talk for a hot second about something I am seeing in 100% of the classrooms I am talking in this fall.  

WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON???  

Every class I go into I ask this same question:  " Show of hands, does anyone here know what service learning is?" 

And every time in every class room not a single hand goes up.  not.one.hand. 

So I have made something for you all to briefly describe what service learning is and why it is so beneficial to you guys. 

  1. It impacts the communities we work in by giving much needed assistance where ever it is needed.
  2. It impacts our service learners by gaining a clearer understanding of a global community
  3. It impacts the service learner's community because most often our service learners come back and give to their own communities
  4. Lastly, it affects our service learners career beyond college by making their resume stand out among their peers!

So here's a quick video to sum up what service learning is.  

 

And a few more notes:

  • It is affordable
  • you can do it
  • there are many ways to go
  • fundraising
  • payment plans 
  • etc.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND GO!!  WE NEED 3 MORE PEOPLE FOR FALL BELIZE.....

WILL YOU GO PASSIONATELY??!!!

Let's play a game: I say a word, you give me a definition.

Reflection.... What does this word mean to you?

When you think of the word reflection, what image does it trigger in your mind?  When your teachers or professors ask you to "reflect" on something, do you ever really stop and think about what that really means?  Do  you "preflect" on what your reflection is going to look like, sound like, and feel like?  Not as easy as it sounded right?

In just about 13 days our student service learners will be embarking on their journey to Belize to host a summer camp for children that are kindergartners through fifth graders.  This is no small feat.  For weeks we have been creating curriculum, thinking of activities, thinking about what our trip is going to look and feel like, and thinking about how excited we are to be going.  However, on July 10th during our pre-trip meeting they will be given an assignment.  Their assignment will be to preflect on what this journey means to them right now and what they think this journey is going to mean to them during the time that they are there and then after they come back.  This won't be done by writing a paper.  This will be done through some critical thinking and discussion and some preflection exercises I have prepared for them.  

So, think of something you will be doing soon that is of significance to you.  It may be a job interview.  It may be meeting your boyfriend's parents or maybe him meeting yours.  It may be trying to get a promotion at the job you already have or possibly getting into a program at school that is important to you.  Try this exercise about a week or so before you do it.  It may be a little out of your comfort zone, you may actually feel silly doing it.  But after you do it a few times I promise you will start to see the difference in how you are experiencing the experience!  

1. Find a mirror

Yes.  That's right go look in a mirror.  That in and of itself is the first step to REFLECTION and guess what..... you will be staring at your reflection!!  Stand in front of the mirror and pretend your reflection is the situation/person you will be facing soon.

2. Role Play

It may feel silly or weird but act out the scene you see playing out in your head with your reflection being the other actor in the scene.  Once you start doing it you will get used to the conversation happening and it will start to feel as natural as having a conversation with another person.  Act out the situation out loud and in person.  Be sure to throw in any problems or hurdles you see getting in your way.  When you get to these problems or hurdles work out with your "partner" (in the mirror) how you can best solve this situation.

3. Think about it

Take a few minutes to jot down on a piece of paper or on your ipad or computer how you felt about doing the role play, how you felt about how you portrayed the situation and then how you felt about how you handled the situation.  Jotting it down will let you come back to it and reflect more when you are going through the actual situation.  

 

Next week I will give you guys some exercises that will add to these exercises for the "during" reflection.  

Good honest amazing awesome reflection is a four part process.  It's the pre, the during, the post, and the revisit.  It's how you get the most out of any learning experience and it doesn't always mean you have to write a paper or do some boring assignment.  It can actually be a great deal of fun!  

Have a great week and be sure to tune in next week for the "during" part of the reflection process fun exercises.  Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

It's been fun chatting,  

Until next time,

~~Jennifer