Concord College Bonner Scholars Build House in Jamaica
Athens, W.Va. - Twelve Concord College Bonner Scholars and two chaperones traveled to Trelawny, Jamaica, in May. The group arrived in Jamaica on May 12, and came home on May 20. They left behind a new house they’d built themselves and brought back a greater understanding of the Jamaican culture.
Dr. Annette Light, professor of sociology at Concord College, and her husband Darrin, a contractor, chaperoned the Bonner Scholars on the Jamaican trip, overseeing the students and helping with the building of the home.
“We built the home through Habitat for Humanity,” Dr. Light explained. “Concord’s Bonner Scholars Specialist Kathy Ball had contacted me to ask if my husband and I would chaperone this trip. It was an incredible experience.”
Concord College is one of fewer than 30 colleges in the nation, and the only public institution that offer students a chance to participate in the national Bonner Scholars Program. The Bonner program, established by the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation of Princeton, NJ, allows students to help their community through volunteerism. For their community service, participating students are granted scholarships that will help offset college expenses. Students are admitted to the scholarship program based on, among other criteria, high school volunteerism. Seventy-six Concord students currently participate in the college’s Bonner Scholars Program.
The trip to Jamaica to build a house for a family in need was done in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, a Christian-based organization that provides low-cost construction materials and housing kits to families in need of adequate housing. Nine of the students: Amy Adkins of Pineville, Bethany Blevins of Odd, Andrew Hunt of Burton, Casie Hurt of Princeton, Stephanie Keen of Coal City, Contessa Lilly of Cool Ridge, Angela Miller of Peterstown, Jennifer Perrine of Ballard and Stacy Thomas of Richwood, were West Virginia residents and three—Darshan Baldev, Ravi Bhalotia and Vinayak Nain—were from India.
Concord Bonners Specialist Kathy Ball said that the students paid for the trip themselves by holding bake sales and hot dog sales and special fundraising events throughout the semester.
Light said that the experience was unforgettable, and that she gained valuable insights into the Jamaican culture.
“Jamaicans are more community-minded than Americans,” Light said. She added that not only the Concord group and the family for whom the house was being built helped with the construction, but that other residents of Trelawny showed up to lend a helping hand.
Light also said that she developed a taste for Jamaican cuisine while she was in Trelawny—particularly, chicken foot soup!
The Bonner Scholars and Lights mixed and poured concrete, assembled the home from the Habitat building kit, and did the roofing—with help from the owner-family and the community of Trelawny. It wasn’t the way most tourists spend their time in Jamaica, but the Bonner Scholars say that they were fulfilled by the experience.
“I had a great time,” said Stephanie Keen of Coal City.
Concord College Notes: The Communication Arts Department produces the college’s student newspaper, radio programming and television programming. The department also produces theatrical and musical productions. It is organized similar to today’s modern corporation with the students completing projects under both student and faculty supervision. This gives students real-world experience that focuses on accountability and responsibility.
Jessica Shifflett, an intern in the marketing/public relations department, wrote this press release. Her hometown is Oak Hill, W.Va. She is majoring in communication Arts with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Her anticipated graduation date is August 2001.