Study Abroad

Travel Guide to Antigua

January 04, 2015

Over the past semester, we have been learning not only about the island of Antigua, but international service learning in general. There were a lot of things that we talked about that struck me as odd because they were things that I had never thought about before. Ivan Illich gave a speech called “To Hell with Good Intentions” about Americans going down to Mexico to help rebuild a community. In his speech he talked about how he does not like Americans going down to Mexico to help because they aren’t doing as much good as they think. He ended his speech saying, “I am here to suggest that you voluntarily renounce exercising the power which being an American gives you.” This was something I had never thought about because my only experiences have come from the United States and I may not realize how different my beliefs or attitude is from people from other countries. We may have a sense of power being from the United States and that is something that people may not like. What would help this is going on a service learning trip with an attitude of not only helping others, but learning from them, as well.

Service learning is a two way street. Both parties involved are learning from each other. We are stepping into a new culture that most of us have never experienced before. It is important to be respectful and open-minded. There will be new things and practices that we have never seen before. With an open mind you are more likely to try new things and you could learn more than you thought.

TN Kirnon AntiguaWe also spent a lot of time researching and talking about the island of Antigua and the culture of the people. Due to the fact that we will be in a school most of the time, we discussed schooling on the island. There is a surplus of students on the island, but not enough schools. Attendance is very high in the classroom and there is limited space and resources. Special education on the island is very rare, but there is a great effort to incorporate more special education services. Services for students with visual impairments and deaf students are present at TN Kirnon, but there still isn’t as much as there could be. The problem is limited resources and teachers. As we learned, special education is only an elective class for people studying to become teachers on the island. However, after talking with two Antiguans working in the special education field, there is an increasing amount of efforts toward more inclusion and more services for students with disabilities on the island, which is a great thing.

In the Antiguan culture, church and religion are play a major part in peoples’ lives and the school districts are usually split up by what church people attend. Sundays are an important day because that is the day people go to church and dinner can even start at 2pm on those days due to large family gatherings and church services. I think this will be something that will be very different to what we are used to.

As I reflect on this past semester and think about what we have talked about, I think that the most important thing I need for this trip is an open mind. We will all be experiencing things that we have never seen before and it may be a little strange. It is important to keep an open mind and try new things because that is when we learn things about ourselves that we may never have known before. Learning experiences can happen at random, spontaneous times, but if I go to Antigua with a specific mind set with preconceived notions of things, I may not get as full of an experience as if I went with an open mind. The last tip I have to prepare for this trip is going ready to learn from others. I know that I may have some things that I can offer to the students and teachers, but I also know that they have things that I can learn and take back to the states, as well. They will have methods and strategies that I have never seen before and it will be great to be able to experience them first hand. As the days pass by, I know that I’m getting closer and closer to this great opportunity. Keeping an open mind and being ready to learn will be vital during my trip and I think with these two things, I will get the best experience possible.

Works Cited:

  • Children of Antigua and Barbuda. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2014, from http://www.humanium.org/en/antigua-and-barbuda/
  • To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2014, from http://www.swaraj.org/illich_hell.htm