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Ignacio Volunteers return from Christmas mission trip to Jamaica

January 16, 2009

Ten Loyola University New Orleans students participating in the Ignacio Volunteers Program returned Thursday from a 12-day trip to Kingston, Jamaica, where they taught and coached children in a five-day Christmas camp and volunteered for local service agencies, including Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. The program was facilitated by Loyola’s Office of Mission and Ministry.

The volunteers, who were chosen through a competitive application process, met weekly before the trip to learn about Jamaican culture, plan lessons and find ways to raise funds for their trip. All were required to attend an overnight retreat and day of service prior to the Jamaica trip.

The volunteers were assisted by local Jamaican students from the University of the West Indies to teach 6-12 year olds from the Mona Commons shanty town in Kingston at the Mona Commons Basic School. Volunteers taught academic subjects in the morning and were involved in sports and children’s games after lunch.

The goal of the program is to provide an international volunteer service opportunity for Loyola students. While being exposed to the pressing economic and sociological issues in the Caribbean and the developing world, the students provide support and assistance to the children of Kingston, Jamaica, who are in great need.

“It is an amazingly powerful experience for our students to immerse themselves in the Jamaican culture,” said Father Ted Dziak, S.J., director of the program. “And in giving of themselves, they soon learn that they take back so much more than they could ever leave behind.”

The Ignacio Volunteers are planning similar trips in May to Jamaica and during the summer to Belize. For more information on future Ignacio Volunteers events, e-mail jesuit@loyno.edu.

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