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Volunteering work, a perfect way to improve your intercultural experience!



If you are planning a longer stay abroad, and would like to learn or improve a foreign language in another way than just sitting in a classroom or you just want to get in contact with other cultures, volunteering work could be a perfect possibility for you. 

Whatever education you have, there is all the time a suitable work available for you.  Beside the work, Jamaica offers a wide range of activities and attraction, for which you should reserve enough time during your stay in the country.


I can tell you a little bit about how I experienced my time in Jamaica as a volunteering worker.  First of all, I have to mention that it wasnít easy to find a volunteering work, despite the fact that one is doing work for free! But finally, I got in contact with Paula Shaw. She has helped me plan the whole trip, from the beginning phase up to the stay itself.


Let us start planning the trip. From The US, Canada and from major parts of Europe, there is no need for a visa. On the link below you can find a list with the countries which allow you to travel without a visa:


But check it by yourself to make sure you want strand at the immigration office.

There are many possibilities to fly to Jamaica. The national airline is called Air Jamaica (http://www.airjamaica.com/) which offers flights from major cities in the States and from London, England.

Low cost airlines like Spirit Airlines (www.spiritairlines.com) are flying to Jamaica as well. Have a look at the prices from Condor (www.condor.de) and LTU (www.ltu.de) when you are leaving from Europe (over Germany).


Tourists normally land in Montego Bay at the northwest coast (Sangster Intl.). Norman Manley Intl., located in Kingston, is the biggest airport in Jamaica. If you are heading towards the south coastal area this one would probably be the better choice.


The country isnít that big, but distances are illusive, because the country is hilly and the roads could be better.  Jamaicans are lovely people, but, like all over in the world, you have to be careful with whom you  spend time with, because there is a big problem with criminality, especially in bigger cities like Kingston and Spanish town.  Thatís also why you should avoid a volunteering work in those cities if you are not used to this circumstances.


I worked at the Northern Caribbean University in the parish of Manchester.  The town is called Mandeville.  During my time there, I assisted the students in the Chemistry Labs, because I studied Chemistry.  It was pretty easy to get involved and I felt myself comfortable from the first day on. Despite the fact that Jamaica is a developing country, you will find anything you need, like food you are used to and accommodation which is more than just a roof over the head. I have to allude that Jamaica isnít the cheapest country; prices for groceries are as high as in Europe, but you can also eat very cheap at local food corners, you just have to obviate touristy places. Itís also easy to travel small distances with the route-taxis.  They  drive certain routes and you can hop in or out wherever you want.


It was also my pleasure to meet Paula and her many friends.  I went to the library and to the summer school. By then you realise how important it is that one helps other persons in a special way, and volunteering work is one possibility to do it.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paula and all who assisted me during my unforgettable stay in Jamaica.


Roger Marek





Photos by Roger Marek

    © COPYRIGHT 2005 The Allen-Shaw Foundation.