Hands Across the Water
Following is a reflection written by Emily Rubinstein '16, one of the trip's organizers.
Student organization Global Outreach Hamilton, a part of the Community Outreach and Opportunity Project (COOP), took nine students and two faculty members to the Caribbean island of Nevis to work with the St. Kitts- and Nevis-based non-profit organization Operation Future during the second week of spring break.
We visited eight of the nine primary schools on Nevis to give a fun and interactive anti-bullying presentation. The youth in the schools seemed very excited to engage with us during the presentations, and we loved spending time with them. Through these anti-bullying presentations, Operation Future seeks to prevent gang violence by reaching the students very early on. Before and after the presentations, we had the opportunity to play with and talk to the children at the schools, during which many of our participants became human jungle gyms and race horses for the Nevisian children.
In addition to our work in the schools, two group members spent a day in the prison in St. Kitts installing musical equipment and training some inmates on how to use the production software. Operation Future does significant work in providing musical creative outlets for the prisoners for rehabilitation.
Another service project took place at the animal shelter, C.A.R.E. Nevis that works to rehabilitate abused dogs. Hamilton students spent an afternoon cleaning kennels, walking dogs and assisting with general maintenance at the shelter. Between our work in the schools, in the prison, and at the dog shelter, the director of Operation Future estimates we impacted 400-500 individuals in one short week.
When the Global Outreach Hamilton group was not working on various service projects, we engaged in multiple cultural activities from which we learned a little bit about the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. On St. Kitts the Ministry of Culture hosted a tour and the group was honored to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis to learn about the islands’ government. The tour also included a visit to the historic Brimstone Hill Fortress and the opportunity to see the Cayon High School steel pan band, and then to learn a little bit of steel pan ourselves. On Good Friday in Nevis, we took part in a Nevisian tradition of flying kites on the holiday. Many of the children from the schools recognized us at this event, so we spent the afternoon playing and having fun with the kids while experiencing a Nevis tradition.
The activity of great interest to Hamilton students was our visit to the birthplace of our school’s namesake, Alexander Hamilton. Having learned about Hamilton’s childhood as an orphan on Nevis, we were able to truly appreciate standing where one of our nation’s founding fathers began carving his own path. Alexander Hamilton’s story is extraordinary, and we hope that from this visit, we are able to pursue a deeper connection with the history of Nevis.