By: Amanda Freeman, PhD

Posted: October 8, 2015
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Staff Post

Community Engagement on South Caicos

Turks and Caicos Islands

Coming to The School for Field Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, I was very excited about learning about the culture of South Caicos. Prior to arrival, I knew that this island had a small population that would allow for everyone to get to know the community, and to be able to get a sense of what there life is like here.

Upon arrival, I was somewhat humbled by how excited the kids and other residents were to see us. We were greeted with kindness from the community within the Center, and when exploring the town everyone was so interested and wanted to get to know us. I was taken by surprise how excited they were when we arrived. It felt as if they couldn’t wait to meet us.

The Community Engagement component of the program lets us have a meaningful relationship with locals. We help teach the students at the elementary school on Wednesdays, on Saturdays we open up the Center for swim lessons in our pool, art projects, and games, and there are also other programs like Snorkel Club that keep us engaged within the South Caicos community.

The first time I went to the elementary school, I was working with the kindergartners and we were going to teach them about Chicago culture. I could not believe how excited they were. They ran up to us and gave us huge hugs and grabbed our hands to show us around the classroom. I also volunteered with the third graders for gym class. Once again we were welcomed with open arms and the students were so excited to tell us everything about themselves. It was so sweet and my time working with them made me feel like I could have a beneficial effect on their lives.

Being able to engage with students and adults on South Caicos is such an inspirational experience. Even though we are only here for a semester, we can have a positive impact in the community, whether that’s teaching someone to swim or just talking to someone and brightening their day (and ours, as well!). These little interactions allow for memorable experiences in South Caicos that I will never forget.

Students participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual event organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

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