Dr. Patti Powell, professor of education, has been selected for a Fulbright award to teach at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Montego Bay, Jamaica. From January through May 2011, Powell will assist with the development of the college’s new deaf education program. In addition, she will introduce service learning into the curriculum and research how service learning enriches the experience of teachers.
“The idea of service to others is something the Jamaican people live daily,” said Powell. “The concept of service learning—of taking care of your brother—resonates with them even though the term ‘service learning’ is unfamiliar.”
Powell, who is director of the Alexander De Jong Center for Special Education at Trinity, has spent the past nine years leading Interim trips each January to the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf (CCCD), which is also located in Montego Bay. She serves on its U.S. board of directors. Her efforts to incorporate service learning into the curriculum there have met with success and have served as a testament to CCCD as well as Sam Sharpe’s students and administrators.
In fact, Sam Sharpe student teachers collaborated with Trinity and CCCD students on a community service project to reach out to residents of one of the poorest areas of Montego Bay. Powell hopes to nurture the relationship between CCCD and Sam Sharpe as well as open more doors of collaboration between Sam Sharpe and Trinity.
During her five months in Jamaica, Powell is also looking forward to strengthening her personal ties with friends at CCCD and the local church. “Part of my heart is and always will be in Jamaica, and I am excited about the opportunity to spend more than one week in my ‘home away from home.’”
From the first time she volunteered at CCCD, she said God’s call for her to serve in Jamaica has been clear: “My passion and the world’s great need collided—boom!” she said, referring to her education and experience working with the deaf and being led to a Christian school for the deaf. She explained that CCCD is something of an anomaly, and to her knowledge, no Christian schools for the deaf exist in the United States.
Receiving the Fulbright will give Powell the opportunity to live out her calling to an even greater extent.
“My background and expertise, as well as my familiarity with Jamaica, service-learning, and deaf culture, have prepared me for this next phase in my professional journey, and I am confident my contribution will be of great benefit to Jamaican education and deaf culture in Jamaica,” said Powell. “I eagerly anticipate spending an extended period of time teaching and researching in a country that I love so dearly.”
As a representative of the United States in Jamaica, Powell will help fulfill the principal purpose of the Fulbright Program, which is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of the more than 150 countries that currently participate in the program.