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Jamaican Student Association Raises Cultural Awareness at UAlbany

December 15, 2008

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Students at a JAMSA car wash.

UAlbany students at a JAMSA car wash.

Students at UAlbany have diverse backgrounds from which the entire campus community benefits. There are more than 20 cultural organizations on campus. Groups like the Jamaican Student Association (JAMSA) provide a place for students to celebrate their heritage and raise cultural awareness on campus.

The group was founded in the spring of 2006 and currently has 34 members. The Jamaican Student Association’s mission is to help promote the academic success of its members, as well as provide an outlet for students who want to experience their culture.

 “The group gives its members a home away from home,” said JAMSA President Jeffery Barnes, who was born in Jamaica and lived there until 2000, when he moved to Albany. He is currently a junior, majoring in human biology.

In addition to guiding its members in their first years away from home, the group tries to help less fortunate communities throughout the world, with an emphasis on Jamaica. On Nov. 7, the group held the event “Making a Difference: A Social Mixer,” to raise money for hurricane relief efforts for the Fair Prospect Primary School, one of the group’s target schools in Jamaica.

The flag of Jamaica

The flag of Jamaica

The group also works to break Jamaican stereotypes. This spring JAMSA will host a program on Rastafarian subculture in Jamaica, with the intent of raising cultural awareness on campus.

Currently JAMSA is conducting fund raising to attend the Penn Relays Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania in April of ’09. Athletes come from as far as Europe, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands to participate in the event. There will be Olympic athletes from all over the world. They will also be able to watch their own UAlbany Track and Field team perform.

Barnes has been to the Penn Relays Carnival on several occasions. He participated as a high school athlete and as a member of UAlbany’s track and field team. “The [UAlbany] team is jam- packed with talent and great coaches looking to take the University to another level in the sport of track and field,” said Barnes.

JAMSA may be reached by e-mail at: Jamaicanstudentassociation@gmail.com, or at the face book group JAM~SA.

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UAlbany alumna Catherine Bertini, '71
UAlbany Alumni

"It was critical for me to be in a place where I could learn about government, both academic and practical experience"

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