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Saint Mary’s introduces new summer study abroad program in Jamaica

| Thursday, February 1, 2018

Saint Mary’s is offering a new destination for summer study abroad programs this summer: Jamaica.

“We’ve been wanting to get a summer study abroad program in Jamaica for three years,” Aaron Bremyer, the director of the Saint Mary’s Writing Center and the Jamaica study abroad program, said.

The program was originally supposed to begin in the summer of 2016, Bremyer said, but the outbreak of Zika Virus posed risks that ultimately led to its postponement.

The three-week program is to be held at the University of the West Indies at Mona, located in northern Kingston, he said. From mid-June to early July, Bremyer said, participants will live with students at the University in apartments on campus.

“It’s a beautiful campus that offers a lot of opportunities for our students to really integrate with students from Jamaica and all over the Caribbean,” he said.

Bremyer said the program centers around a class called Travel Writing in Jamaica, to be taught by English professor and co-director of the Jamaica study abroad program Dionne Bremyer, Aaron Bremyer’s wife. The course meets requirements for the English Writing major as well as general education requirements within the Sophia Program.

“The travel writing course is trying to look at the difference between tourism and traveling,” Mr. Bremyer said.

Through day trips and weekend trips, he said, students will be exposed to various parts of the island that emphasize the distinction between experiencing the actual culture of Jamaica and experiencing the tourism industry.

“A traveler is a person who is integrated into the society rather than intruding on the local culture,” Mr. Bremyer said. “We’re excited about moving away from that tourist-centric idea of the Caribbean as a vacation destination rather than a place where millions upon millions of people live.”

Coming from a Jamaican family, Mrs. Bremyer said during a presentation about program Wednesday night that she looks forward to the opportunity to share this cultural experience with students.

Mr. Bremyer said he is excited for students to become acquainted with the true culture of Jamaica after hearing stereotypes.

“The idea people have of Jamaica isn’t quite the reality of Jamaica,” Mr. Bremyer said. “We wanted to design a program that introduces people to a more authentic Jamaica than most Americans know.”

Many Americans have knowledge of the resorts and other tourism aspects of the island nation, Mr. Bremyer said, but there are many other important parts of society there.

“The service industry is absolutely essential to the island,” he said, “But it doesn’t present the true history of the island and the people there.”

Because this program is meant to take place during the summer, Mr. Bremyer said he and Mrs. Bremyer hope to make it possible for more students to study abroad, as some have schedules that are not always flexible enough for a semester-long program.

“Our goal in setting it up was to offer a program to students — many of whom couldn’t study abroad because of class schedules or obligations at the college — that could fit other schedules and be less expensive than some of the other programs,” he said.

The Travel Writing in Jamaica program is open to Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross students.

Applications for the program are due March 1. Student may contact Aaron or Dionne Bremyer for more details about the program and applying.

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