While Clayton State University Study Abroad programs are typically thought of as providing experiential learning for current Clayton State students, the 2015 trip to Duncans, Jamaica combines current students, faculty and Clayton State alumni... all serving young people of the island nation.
Clayton State’s contingent are serving at the St. James Basic School and the Duncans All Age School Special Education Unit. The former school has been a Clayton State Study Abroad Community Partner for seven of the 10 years of the study abroad program and, according to Dr. Rafik Mohamed, chair of the Clayton State Department of Social Sciences and leader of the program, “our study abroad students volunteer at the school each morning, helping teachers with their lessons, working with students on projects, and otherwise spending time with the kids.”
Among the individuals serving at the Duncans All Age School Special Education Unit is Clayton State alumnus Troy Williams, now a graduate student at the University of San Diego. Williams first visited Jamaica as a Clayton State Study Abroad student in 2011, and this year’s trip marks his eighth visit to Duncans. His experiences in Jamaica have benefitted him as much as the students he is serving.
“This program is the reason I chose to attend graduate school and become involved in community development,” he says. “The people, culture, and course work constantly allow me challenge myself. Each time I visit the island I learn something new. One of my tasks as a student leader is creating social educational projects for our students to engage with the students in the Duncans All Age School Special Education Unit. During my experience as a student leader, the class, culture, and natives have taught me more about myself and relationship building than any other educational experience that I ever had.
“I have studied abroad in Turkey, Italy, and Ecuador, and while all of these programs were unique I can confidently say that the Jamaica program is one of a kind.”