Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Bahamas: Spring Break 09
We chose to go to the Bahamas because it is typically thought of as a tourist scene not in need of aid or help. Upon arriving in Freeport it was evident that we correct. Drink specials and private beaches were advertised along side unfinished homes and hurricane devastated areas. The YMCA is where our group of 11 spent the week doing long hours of service. The YMCA was still recovering from the multiple hurricanes of 2005 and our work made a visible difference.
We started off the week cleaning out a huge trailer/storage unit full of old items saved from the hurricanes that wrecked havoc on the YMCA, We sorted rat and cockroach infested files, trophies, equipment and games, uniforms, and computers to name a few. Within no time, we had cleaned out the trailer, sorted what items should be kept, and reorganized it. The YMCA is having a new floor donated to their gym in April and we were able the help with the process to get ready by moving the heavy gym equipment out of the gymnasium and into the trailer. We then moved on to organizing supply closets, maintenance closets, scrubbing scuffed floors until they looked new again, and picking up glass and trash in the fields where the children play sports and games. We painted and designed two large murals depicting the harmony between the United States and the Bahamas to spruce up the youth area. Using limited supplies members of our group rebuilt the YMCA's stage so it was safe to walk on and so it was more presentable.
With the use of teamwork and brainstorming we were able to help clean up the YMCA and make a noticeable difference. In the afternoons we engaged the children of different ages who would come to the YMCA after school to work on their homework and have a safe place to hang out. We did different activities with them daily, from swim lessons, to homework, to exchanging cultures. We found the children were a lot like us. They watched many of the same television shows and even had similar ways of keeping in touch over the internet.
Our trip to the Bahamas was successful. By going to a country where the tourism industry is the main industry the members of our trip see things differently. We saw the exorbitant prices in the grocery store because of the inflation, the many unfinished houses, and the untouched ruins from the hurricanes, and the apathy of the typical vacationer. By learning about the unique Bahamian culture, a blend of different cultures and we found commonalities, creating friendships and connections that will last forever, and actually making a visible difference everyone on our trip agreed our spring break made a lasting impact on them just as much as on the people of the Bahamas.