“Guest writer, Kristen Muldoon, is a junior music therapy major at Nazareth College of Rochester. She recently came back from her trip to Jamaica as part of the Jamaican Field Service Project where she worked with 3 different populations, having the experience of a lifetime…” -Sarah
Wow, where to begin. Without a doubt, the ten days I spent in Jamaica will always be one of the best experiences of my life. I think I can speak for our entire group when I say the things we saw, the friends we made, and the work we did with the people at the sites will remain in our minds and hearts forever.
After flying into Montego Bay Airport, we made our way to Great Huts. Check out the website! www.greathuts.com Staying in huts, tents and tree houses, with outdoor showers and a pen full of rabbits and roosters, we were certainly roughing it… but it made the experience that much more authentic and exciting! Our food and drink was always freshly made – jerk chicken and pork, rice and beans, and tons of fruits and veggies.
Just at the bottom of the guest house was Boston Bay Beach where we could swim, take a surf lesson, lounge in a hammock, or jump off a cliff!
We had a great time taking hikes, going to other local beaches and getting to know each other. Every night the whole group would get together; we’d talk about our days and things coming up. But most exciting, we’d drum! Our supervisor, Eric, taught us a ton of authentic Jamaican and African beats. We practiced together every night, and on our last day there we had a big performance in town with the locals.
Of course the most remarkable portion of the trip was the music therapy work we were able to do at three different sites. We split the therapy students into groups and alternated working at each site. First was the School of Hope. The children here had a variety of cognitive and learning disabilities and deafness. They responded unbelievably well to the music and interventions. We brought bags of small drums and accessory percussion to use with them. You could tell from the smiles on their faces that music definitely resonated with them – and fittingly, they really loved the resonator bells 🙂
We also went to a homeless shelter and an infirmary. Despite the initial shock of the sad and disturbing things we witnessed there, we were able to really connect with these people. Traditional Jamaican songs and gospel melodies became our staple set-list from room to room. Several if not all of these people had not had a visitor since the last JAFSP group visited. We brought tears to their eyes with the music, and they brought tears to ours when we had to say goodbye. I personally connected with the people in the infirmary in such a way that made me never feel surer of my passion for music therapy.
My experience in Jamaica was absolutely life-changing. I experienced a completely different culture and lifestyle, which made a huge impact on how I look at things today. I made many new friends, and connected with fellow music therapists who could very well be my colleagues one day. Without a doubt, I enjoyed doing the therapy at the sites, but being able to work together with the other students made it that much more rewarding. In such a short amount of time, we were able to make such a lasting impression on the people who received the therapy. I will never forget this experience, as it was probably the most rewarding trip of my life.
Kristen Muldoon MTS