It is true — you can never truly understand a culture until you have experienced it! Jamaican culture has become known and loved all over the world.
If you have a travel guide for Jamaica, then you have learned a lot about our food, our historical sites, our reggae music, and other aspects of our culture. But there are some things that your travel guide won’t tell you about Jamaica.
I want you to experience the ‘Real’ Jamaica for yourself when you come to volunteer. Thus, I’m sharing five things you need to know about Jamaica so you can have a more significant impact on your work and the community you’ll influence.
Here are the five things you should know:
#1: Poverty in Jamaica
Did you know that over 540,000 Jamaicans now live below the poverty line? Yes, many children are without food and other necessities they need to function in society.
Many of these families cannot afford to provide basic foods for their children or to send them to school on a daily basis. As a result, they are left to fend for themselves on the streets for survival.
International volunteers are needed to support these kids and make their dreams a reality. They need your motivation and kind words to give them hope for a brighter future.
#2: The Jamaican Language: Patois
Do you want to learn the coolest language? A language so colorful and distinct and enjoyed by all who come into contact with it. Jamaican Patois is a unique language that has a huge influence on the world. Your travel guide didn’t tell you that now, did it?
The fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, speaks Patois! And if you love Bob Marley’s music, then you would have heard him singing Patois in almost all his songs. When you interact with the locals, the vendors at the market, or the people at your project, you will get the chance to hear Patois and learn to speak the language. Speaking Patios is fun; take it from me!
#3: Our churches
Did your travel guide tell you that Jamaica has the most churches per square mile than any other country in the world? Yes, Jamaicans love to worship, and more than 80% of Jamaicans are Christians. Jamaican churches are lively with lots of music, clapping, and singing.
On Sundays, the most popular day of worship here, you’ll hear nothing but the rhythmic voices of church-goers and the sounds of musical instruments coming from the churches. Volunteers love to go to church to see how expressive, vibrant, and natural our culture is.
This is what one volunteer said after a church service:
“I felt butterflies in my belly. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”— Pat
Be sure to go to church with the Evans family at least one Sunday on your volunteer trip to Jamaica and see how Jamaican’s worship. You’ll remember it forever!
#4: Respect for our culture
One of the benefits of volunteering abroad is that it allows you to learn another culture by experiencing it for yourself. One of the most important things that you should bear in mind when you come to Jamaica is to have respect for the culture. A major aspect of showing cultural respect is dressing to blend in with the locals at your project. Be sure to check with our volunteer coordinator to know the type of clothes to pack for your project.
Remember, ‘when in Rome, you do as the Romans do’.
#5: Our People
Did you know that Jamaicans are some of the most hospitable, warm, and entertaining groups of people you’ll ever meet? Don’t be surprised if you find children and adults alike walk up to you and start chatting as if you were a relative from abroad or a friend they haven’t seen in a long while.
Although we are well known for our awe-inspiring mountains and beautiful beaches, it is the kind and friendly people that make our island a home away from home. But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Come, experience Jamaica for yourself, and live like a local!
So, there you have it…five things that your travel guide won’t tell you about Jamaica.
Ready to experience the real Jamaica? Take the first step and contact a JVP representative to start planning your volunteer, intern, or study abroad trip today.
Or, if you’ve already made a decision and want to get started right away, apply now.
Get more content your typical travel guide won’t share in our Beyond the Shorelines guide, which gives you an insider look at the most prominent aspects of our culture.
Drop us your email, and we’ll send it right over.