When I think of Jamaica, I think of a tiny tourist town off the southern coast and it’s beautiful, open residents. I think of a little blonde woman with the patience of a saint and the drive to do anything. I think of a loving woman’s jerk chicken and rice, of an entertaining bus driver with fantastic life views, of an appreciative Kenyan nun caring for a flock of scrappy children, of tiny seedlings of hope planted in the fertile soil of the Jamaican mountains and the jubilant, toothy smile and shrill laughter of a five year old orphan hanging off my back as I spin around and around in circles for him.

It isn’t often that we can stare change in the face or measure growth over a miniscule period of time and it isn’t often that I am struck by how so obviously and simply I am blessed. This past week in Treasure Beach, Jamaica I was struck countless times by this very idea.

While building mounds for tiny fragile seedlings, frolicking the moonlight beaches at night, gazing at the beautiful landscape while hurtling around potholes and muddy roads and talking to the most eclectic group of people I have ever been a part of in one place I learned more about who I am, what I want out of life, ways to improve myself and what I want to give than I have been able to measure before.

I want to slow down and clutter my life less with busy work and more with people and valuing them. I want to figure out ways I can help as many people as possible and practice being friendly and open to all new people, ideas and experiences. I want to go with the flow of life and instead of worrying about things I cannot change, focus on working with what I have.

The beautiful people of Treasure Beach and my fellow volunteers and students have inspired me to strive to be a better person, to challenge any set way of thinking, to try everything once no matter how terrifying or different and to love my neighbors and those I see every day as much as possible.

The final hugs and expressions of gratitude exchanged between our partners and us can only attempt to show the overwhelming amount of love and inspiration I have experienced and I can only hope that the tides will one day bring me again to Treasure Beach.

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