Through a series of unique encounters, we found ourselves en route last November to Jamaica to shoot a film for Arcadia University, top-ranked, and known as a pioneer in international education.
We were asked to produce a short film featuring a group of Arcadia students and graduate clinicians from the Physical Therapy department as they conducted a week-long stroke camp.
Stroke is common in Jamaica, and many Jamaicans lack access to or funds for physical therapy. For more than 15 years, Arcadia faculty member Karen Sawyer has been providing physical therapy for Jamaicans suffering from stroke. Through Karen’s influence, Dr. Brooke Riley, an ’04 Arcadia graduate who completed a six-week international study program in Jamaica, runs the local clinic there and has done so for the last seven years. Brooke was recently joined by graduate Jennie Brennan who lives and serves there full time as well.
We can’t say enough about these three women. They love the Jamaican people, and they’re loved in return. They serve the Jamaican people with joy and abandon. They made us laugh, cry, rejoice, and helped provide perspective regarding the blessings we enjoy living in America.
Our experience in Jamaica was so unbelievably rich. We saw lives and abilities enhanced. We came to know and love a group of young people who are giving their lives to bring about healing to others. We sang, we laughed, we worshipped, we cried. We came to know and love the seven stroke patients whose lives would be forever changed.
We took a boat ride to the Pelican Bar out in the ocean where we swam, played games and watched a stunning sunset. We watched the entire process of coffee growing -- from beans, to roasting, to grinding, to packing various types of containers into our suitcases to bring home. We enjoyed a time of relaxing on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. We did Zumba in a little Mennonite church with a group of locals. We enjoyed the most unbelievable Jamaican food, lovingly prepared by Toots and Wheezy, the dearest, craziest Jamaicans you’ll ever meet. We hiked to one of the highest points in Jamaica to watch the sun rise over the ocean.
We feel so blessed to be able to create this film. We are so impressed with the Arcadia University’s commitment to training students, through pro bono international experiences, to be giving, serving and loving as they go out into the world to practice their trade. We saw that in action, and we will never be the same.