Waking up during the winter in New Jersey has a lot of us wishing we lived in a warmer climate.
A group of Seton Hall University students had the right idea and headed to Jamaica — but not to escape the cold.
From Jan. 3-12, these students dedicated part of their winter break to volunteer at the Alpha Boys School and Orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica, as part of the servant-leadership trip hosted by the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Students worked on renovation projects in the mornings and tutored in the afternoons. They refurbished a former printing press room, creating a school gift shop, and helped update the Sisters of Mercy convent kitchens.
Students also visited the Don Bosco School and the Father Hulong Bethlehem House, which houses children and adults with special needs.
Senior Elizabeth Pavlovsky, who embarked on the trip as a student and WSOU reporter, said they helped feed the children of the Bethlehem House. They also danced with the children and talked with the adults, according to Pavlovsky.
“It was there that I realized how grateful I was for the (health care) access we have in the United States,” Pavlovsky said. “Many of the children in the home could have better lives if they had access to some of the resources that many here in the States take for granted.”
Pavlovsky said the facilities of the Alpha Boys School were better than those in surrounding areas.
Freshman Richard Saxton, the only male Seton Hall student on the trip, said the trip was very eye-opening.
Saxton said the boys are needy for love.
“They want you to embrace them,” Saxton said. “It’s a good thing to do to show them that you love them and that you care…you become really attached to the boys.”
Senior Heather Robinson, an elementary and special education major, said she returned to the Alpha Boys School this year after falling in the love with the school last year.
“I got very close with some of the students and I wanted to see how they’ve grown over the year,” Robinson said. “The student I tutored last year was working with letter sounds…this year he was reading chapter books.”
Robinson said she is always learning from her students.
“I learned that even if you’re miles away from home, you can find a home in others and that is what I found in the Alpha Boys School,” Robinson said.
Michelle Foti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.