by Ryan Kapopoulos
Jamaica Magis is a service immersion trip through Boston College’s Campus Ministry, led by Father Michael Davidson S.J.. I recently went on the Spring Break trip to Kingston, Jamaica with 22 BC students. During the week each student is assigned to a classroom to serve as a teaching aid at Holy Family Primary School (grades 1-6) in Kingston. After school and on the weekends, there are a whole host of other unique service opportunities. Some of these include serving at various Mustard Seed communities, and institutions such as the Missionaries of Charity and the Missionaries of the Poor.
Jamaica Magis is an exceptional trip for many reasons. One of the unique components of the trip is its many surprises. Before the trip, each participant has a general idea of what they’ll be doing. During the trip however, every moment of the day is a mystery, and the group will be completely unaware of the day’s activities and destinations until the moment comes to engage in them. The beauty of these surprises, is that it forces everyone to be in the present, while eliciting a raw vulnerability that comes about as a result of not being able to mental prepare.
In addition to the many memorable surprises on the trip, the overall mission and purpose of Jamaica Magis is what makes it so special. While the purpose of the trip is to serve the people in Kingston, it is also meant to serve yourself, your Magis family, and anyone else in your life. After all, the trip is called Jamaica Magis, which is Latin for “greater”. The “Magis” component is all about finding the “more” in everything you encounter (such as in the people of Jamaica, your group, etc.), but also the “more” in your own life. Speaking from my own personal experience on the trip, I felt that my eyes were opened to finding incredible depth in many unexpected components of life. Yet I also felt that I discovered many aspects of the “more” within myself during the trip. My experiences helped challenge the way I approached relationships, what I wanted to do with my life, and how I carry myself as a person.
Jamaica Magis was such a meaningful experience for me and for so many others, due to the guidance of Father Michael and the student leaders. When in Jamaica, it is easy to want to feel bad for some of the people and situations that you encounter. Yet Father Michael instills in each participant the fact that they should not to feel bad, because the poor do not need that sorrow. They are incredibly resilient people. Father Michael would also emphasize the fact that when in Jamaica, you are simply spending time and sharing love with your brothers and sisters. All of this is further supported by the superb guidance of the student leaders. It truly is all about being in the present and being loving with the people you encounter in Jamaica, as if they were one of your own family members.
Participating in Jamaica Magis was the best decision I have made at Boston College. It is a trip that challenges who you are and forces you to be vulnerable in ways you have never been before. It is a trip that promotes unconditional love and being fully immersed in the present. So, if you are looking to find the “more” in your life and want to meet an amazing group of people, Jamaica Magis is a great place to start.