Some Mohawk College students are packing their bags and heading to Jamaica on Friday to put their computer skills to work.
Students from Mohawk’s network software program have refurbished 10 laptops that will be donated to Bowden Hill primary school, which is situated in a small community outside Kingston.
Rochelle Reid, Mohawk’s director of student life, took a tour of the school during a trip to visit family in the area.
“They showed me the computer room,” she said. “There were no computers.”
“They showed me their little first aid room with a mattress and some supplies on the ground.”
Reid says what struck her the most is how passionate the students and the teachers were about being there.
Bowden Hill primary was shut down in 2015 due to low enrollment.
The community was faced with sending 18 students long distances to receive their education or seeing it end with the closure.
Reid says instead, they rallied together and started teaching the children out of a local church.
The ministry of education took notice and the school has since reopened with 85 students.
Inspired by the commitment to education, Reid approached Mohawk College about helping the school rebuild its facilities.
Mohawk students will give workshops on how to use the laptops being donated to Bowden Hill. The workshops will focus on using the computers to improve student literacy and numeracy.
It’s a unique opportunity, Reid says, because Mohawk students will tap into work-integrated learning while also receiving a global experience.
“Our hope for our students on this project is to really come back renewed with a new perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion.”
A second phase of the partnership is already in the works.
Students in Mohawk’s construction program will be heading to Bowden Hill in the winter to help renovate the kitchen and build cabinetry.
A GoFund me page has been launched to help the first group of students cover the cost of supplies, such as markers and chalk. It will also help take care of leftover travel costs.
Each student received a stipend through Ontario’s Career Ready fund to get them started.
Students are scheduled to arrive on Nov. 2.