February 21, 2016 — In 2012, Boston College undergraduate students Matthew Nacier, Marsha Guillaume and Patrick Williamson and Boston College campus minister Jesuit Father Michael Davidson founded the Jamaica Magis Service Trip as a way to serve the needs of the Jamaican people — and as a way for students to learn more about their vibrant culture.
Organized through Boston College’s Office of Campus Ministry, Jamaica Magis provides students an opportunity to live and serve in solidarity with the people in Kingston, Jamaica, who have faced social, political and economic oppression. The founders envisioned a trip where a diverse group of students could come together and learn and grow as a family through service, regardless of skin color.
“Students join the Jamaica Magis Service Trip because they are looking for the magis, an Ignatian call to do more,” said Fr. Davidson, a Jamaica native. “All participants are searching for a life with deeper meaning, a deeper connection with God, and a chance to live out a faith that does justice.”
Equipped with a semester of education about Jamaican culture, history and current events, Jamaica Magis students arrive in Kingston with a deeper understanding of the people and the context in which they live. The length of the trip has been steadily extending and now runs for 13 days each winter, spring break and summer. Additionally, the number of participants increases each year. In total, over 200 students have participated in the five years that the trip has been active.
The majority of the trip is dedicated to teaching at the Holy Family Primary School in downtown Kingston, an inner-city school that educates over 1,000 students who are in dire need of materials. Students also visit multiple charities, such as Mustard Seed Communities and the Missionaries of Charity, which serve different marginalized populations.
“During their time in Jamaica, students gain a deeper understanding of social justice and spirituality by learning to recognize the face of God in all things,” said Fr. Davidson. “This could be in the hug of a child they serve at an impoverished primary school, in the smile of an elderly woman whose memory is failing, in the strength of the community, and in themselves.”