SMC implements new study abroad program in Jamaica
Nicole Caratas | Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Saint Mary’s Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) will sponsor a new summer study abroad program in Jamaica, starting in May 2016.
Dionne Bremyer, assistant professor of English, said she started the program because her family heritage is Jamaican, and she believes the island is full of culture most Saint Mary’s students can appreciate but do not know as well.
“It’s a good place to go in terms of getting a different cultural experience and still being English-speaking,” Bremyer said. “I think some students might be intimidated by going places where there’s a language barrier, but they still want to have a cultural experience that’s different. … You can get a really different experience in Jamaica, but it’s still an English-speaking country.”
Bremyer said she will be teaching a course on travel writing while in Jamaica.
“We’re going to look at the dichotomy between being a tourist and being a traveler,” Bremyer said. “We’re going to talk about what it means to travel as opposed to what it means to engage in tourism. Jamaica is the perfect place to do that because its economy is so driven by tourism. Some of those questions about the ecological, the cultural, the financial impact of what tourism does to a country are really at large in Jamaica.”
Bremyer said she wants students to have a better understanding of the world through their experiences in Jamaica.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to experience a country that is so close to the United States and one that is so influenced by the United States, but one that people don’t really know a lot about,” she said. “[People] haven’t thought much about what this country is, who the people of this country are, and so much of that is defined by this tourist perception.
“I think it will be a really unique opportunity to experience a place that is so close in terms of geography but so very different in terms of culture.”
She said students in the program will gain a sense of how the cultures of the United States and Jamaica interact.
“[It is] a chance to think critically about what it means when we spend our dollars traveling somewhere — what it means to make choices about the environment, about the world that we live in, about how we value other countries in relation to our own,” Bremyer said. “ … To experience the world and to think about the ways in which we can understand ourselves and the world and each other better by having an understanding of all the people who live on our planet.”
The program will teach the history of the island to students through trips to a marine village and Port Royal, a hike in the Blue Mountains and visits to Jamaica’s Great Houses — plantation-style homes that used to be cotton and sugar farms. Students will also attend the Calabash Literary Festival, a three-day long festival with readings by published authors that celebrates the long literary tradition of Jamaica.