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Jamaica Project

Brief Overview of the Project:

The Community Practice Project - Jamaica was initiated in February 2004 and is about to enter into its 15th year. This project includes an intensive, two-week experience in international work contained within a full semester course, developed by the School of Community Services at Seneca, as an optional route for completing a final semester credit. The practical component takes place in Kingston, Jamaica. Participation in the project is currently offered to final semester students of the Social Service Worker, Social Service Worker Gerontology, Social Service Worker Immigrant and Refugee, Child and Youth Care and Behavioural Science programs. 

The experience gives student participants some degree of first-hand experience of how colonialism, poverty, limited access to resources, the vagaries of international trading and monetary systems, and other factors affect and are managed by people living in developing countries.  In addition, participants are offered an opportunity to learn from a cultural context other than their own, to observe and learn from the hosting experts and engage in the application of their skills in a cross cultural context. The project has, from the Seneca’s perspective, been overwhelmingly successful on several fronts: relationships have been forged with various community members and leaders as well as with community organizations in Kingston. Student participants have returned from the experience with an awakened sense of the complexities of engaging in cross-cultural work, and a deep appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the population with whom they worked.

Every attempt has been made to ensure that partner organizations and community members benefit in some way from the organization-initiated projects completed by students while at their host organizations and in the local community, as well as by the sharing of best practices.

Each year approximately 24 students participate in this community practice project.

The Project, which is open only to students in the CYW, BHS and SSW programs (including SSWG and SSWIR) will form the core of one of your final courses in the winter semester (you will receive course credit for this project and are not expected to make up any time lost at placement while away). The course will include a great deal of preparation leading up to the actual trip, which takes place over two weeks between mid-February and early March (specific dates still to be determined). The final cost of the trip remains contingent on the final booking, but we will be asking for you to be prepared to pay $1,800. Each year we work hard to secure funding in the form of subsidies, and the students selected often do their own fund-raising, both individually and as a group to reduce the final cost. Previous project students have greatly reduced their costs through various fundraising enterprises, including a Student Development grant, potentially available through SSF. The cost of the trip will include everything (flight, accommodation, food and ground transportation) other than personal purchases. All meals will be provided at our place of residence in Jamaica.

Our studies will take us to Papine, Jamaica (just outside of Kingston), where we will stay in a Retreat Centre located near the centre of town. From there we will go each day to work in one of a number specific agency settings, covering a spectrum of populations. Most of our work in previous years has been centred on the community of Mona Commons and we have developed some deep and meaningful relationships with many community members. After placement each day and on the weekend we spend time building relationships with community members. Our hope is that next year’s group will further develop this relationship as we continue to collaborate in identifying fruitful and constructive ways to work together to match the community’s strengths to the community’s needs.

This trip will not be a vacation, but rather a fairly grueling opportunity to begin to understand and partner with marginalized communities within a developing country. After working hands-on with the people of the community during the day, students will participate in evening debriefings, seminars and guest speaker events. The program will offer an intense and demanding experience, which will require ongoing introspection, the use of journaling and some assignments. We have a lot of fun, but that is not why we are there.

Many seeds have been planted by previous years’ projects, and next years group will continue to build on that foundation. The participants will serve as ambassadors for your profession, Seneca and Canada. To this end we will be basing the selection of participants on the following criteria:

  • Ability to maintain current academic standing ( “A” average not required)
  • Exceptional performance in placement
  • Demonstrated willingness to contribute to, and gain from group process
  • Consistent demonstration of the values and principles of our professions
  • Ability and demonstrated willingness to engage in introspection
  • Demonstrated openness to new and different experiences
  • Maturity

Please keep in mind that this program will not suit everyone, but if you are serious about your desire to participate, please complete the application form and send it to Kevin Kennedy by September 15, 2017, stating your desire to be one of the students selected to participate in this Project. Please put “Jamaica Application 2018” in the subject line of your email, and ensure that you send the email through your MySeneca account.

Once the application is received you will be placed on an email group and will receive updates regarding the next steps, so please be sure to check your email from time to time. The application is phase one of the selection process. Phase two will be a weekend (Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon) retreat held at King Campus on October 14/15, 2017. Full participation in the retreat is mandatory and is designed to test how the group works together in less than ideal circumstances, as well as giving you a small taste of what you can expect so that you can make an informed decision about whether this is the right experience for you at this time. If you are serious about going on our next project, please make arrangements to leave that weekend open. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible with the confirmation.

If you are at interested in this project but aren’t certain if its right for you we recommend that you complete the application process to get your foot in the door and then speak with Kevin Kennedy about your concerns. We will also be holding information meetings early in the Fall semester. If the cost is what is stopping you but you are very interested in participating please speak to faculty before you take yourself out of consideration.

We are very excited about this project, and are counting on this group to maintain the high standard the community has come to expect.

Good luck

The Community Studies department faculty


To apply, click on either of the buttons below. The email button will allow you to fill out the application in email. If this does not work on your email system, please use the MS Word.doc and follow the instructions on how to return the application.


MS Word.doc