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The Lighthouse Living Learning Community recently returned from their first annual Jamaica Service Trip to the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in Knockpatrick, Jamaica. This trip was a life changing experience for the 14 students and 3 faculty and staff who attended. The students enrolled in a 3 unit course for the fall of 2007 that addressed Deaf Jamaican culture, oppression and privilege in Jamaica, servant leadership, international travel skills, and money management. The students had the opportunity to hear first- hand about the Deaf Jamaican experience through guest speakers. Throughout the semester, the students organized several fundraisers and wrote mini grants to help fund their trip. The team was in Jamaica from January 5th through January 12th. They had the opportunity to work with Deaf children ranging from 4 years old to 24. They worked in the classroom and organized after school programs. The team painted buildings and hung out at the school farm. They had the opportunity to attend a Deaf church service and met the most talented carpenters that made rocking chairs and bed frames at the JDV (Jamaican Deaf Village). The team served, played, laughed, and bonded with the most amazing people all while learning about a different way of life, themselves, and the world in which we live.
Lissa Stapleton, Community Director, was a huge force in making this trip happen and deserves recognition for being the kind of Student Affairs staff member who sees needs and creates wonderful programs to meet those needs. When Lissa came to California State University, Northridge in the summer of 2006 she was excited to have the responsibility of being the facilitator for the Lighthouse Living Learning Community for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students and those interested in learning about Deaf Culture. She studied some sign language during her academic career so was excited to work with the Deaf Community here at California State University, Northridge. Along with our partners in NCOD and the department of Deaf Studies she has managed to create a vibrant, fulfilling, academically focused Living Learning Community in the course of one year.
I recently attended the presentation given by the students who were a part of the Jamaica Service Trip. It was incredible to see the impact that the experience had on the students and the way they now understand the world as a result. They thanked Lissa immensely for helping them to have such a powerful learning opportunity. The Division is very lucky to have such an amazing professional working with our students here at California State University, Northridge. We should all take on Lissa's example of infusing our personal passions into our work.