The program is based in Yallahs, in the Parish of St. Thomas, and students are also placed at service learning sites in Morant Bay, the Parish capital, and other nearby locations. Some of the community-based research sites are in Kingston. Students also spend some days on site at the University of the West Indies in Kingston/Mona.
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St. Thomas Parish
One of 13 administrative divisions in Jamaica, St. Thomas is located at the southeastern tip of Jamaica, about 20 miles east of Kingston, the Jamaican capital. Although this Parish has its share of natural beauty, it is not a Jamaican tourist destination; it thus offers the opportunity to experience Jamaica as a country and not only as a beach resort. The Parish has many natural resources: the high mountains from which Blue Mountain coffee originates; rivers, fertile plains and hillsides that are still cultivated in bananas, sugar and ginger; and many beaches. It is also rich in local history and culture. Two of the national heroes of Jamaica, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, are from St. Thomas. Both were leaders in the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865, which led to the beginning of constitutional government in Jamaica. St. Thomas Parish has kept close to its indigenous roots, which include local cultural celebrations such as kumina (African drumming and dancing) and crop-over festivals.
Yallahs is a small town of 12,000 people that is best known for the jerk food (a local specialty) vendors in the main square and the “Salt Ponds,” large bodies of very salty water between the sea and main land, that are a site for bird migration and change color at different times of the year.
Housing and meals
Participants are lodged in two connected facilities, a beachfront villa and a smaller guest house. All rooms have private bathrooms and accommodate 2 to 5 students each. The villa also serves as general gathering site and site for classroom activities. Breakfast and dinner are served at the villa on days when students are in residence. Students are responsible for their own lunch and snacks, as well as all meals on “away” trips.