By Karly Dudar
Travel and vacation usually go hand in hand. The goal, ultimately, is relaxation.
But there is another kind of travel in which the stated goal is not so personal.
Call it travel with a purpose, this type of journey is about the traveller using their skills and resources to help people in the country being visited.
Laurentian University’s geography department opened a pilot course to all departments, offering the opportunity to take part in missionary work in the shantytowns of Kingston, Jamaica.
The course offered students the opportunity to engage in a 10-day experience, while helping build homes for families in need.
Seeing as the course was open to all university departments, each and every participant came from a gamut of disciplines: media studies, psychology, English and, of course, geography. This diversity ensured the group possessed a great variety of knowledge and talents.
Once we arrived at the Franciscan Ministries convent, our home for the 10 days, we were excited to get to work. The next morning, we did just that by painting a home.
Upon arrival at the site, the locals were very welcoming, a recurring theme throughout our stay in Jamaica.
Although the house painting proved a great experience, we were eager to meet the host family for whom we would be building a home. Upon meeting them, many of us became even more eager to get to work. It was then that many of us got a true sense of why we were there.
Two days later, we showed up with all of our building materials and tools and finally began the building process. As one can imagine, it was extremely difficult at times to keep focused and continue working, as the heat and humidity were nearly unbearable.
Although we were lucky to have some shade, the majority of the construction took place in the sweltering sun.
Besides actually working on the home, many of us also took time to sit down with the children to share stories and the many gifts we had brought from Canada, which, naturally, they were excited to receive.
Days later, through actual blood, sweat and tears, the home was built. Almost as soon as the last nailed was hammered home, it began to rain.
This was a good sign apparently. According to Jamaican culture, the rain is a sign of a blessing from the gods.
All in all, it proved to be one of the most amazing and life-changing experiences, and I highly recommend this type of opportunity to others. Other Laurentian students interested in missionary work are in luck.
Thanks to the overwhelming success of the course, I believe the university will continue to offer it through the geography department, meaning the school can continue to help people in need in other parts of the world.
Karly Dudar is an undergrad in the psychology department at Laurentian University.
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