A small Midwest town has no limits for Jamaican exchange student, Denise Wynter. Keep reading to hear about her experience engaging with the locals while boating and attending a concert in Northern Michigan.

By: Denise Wynter, Greenheart Work and Travel participant

Hi! My name is Denise Wynter. I am a 20-year-old Jamaican having a remarkable experience in Northern Michigan. The right words are almost impossible to find, but I’ll try to describe my journey so far.

The town I am staying in is relatively small and consists of a few interesting people. I have had some pleasant conversations with some of the older folks, who eagerly shared stories with me of their younger days, and one American couple invited me to their family’s Memorial Day cookout. That was quite a treat for me! A Jamaican in Northern Michigan is certainly a treat for the Americans too; everyone wants to learn about island life and how to say “irie” and “yah mon” correctly. As it has progressed further into the summer season, tourists started to appear in droves which have heightened daily activity in the town.

I have learned that asking questions is a good way to find things out around here! During a conversation with a young lady on the bus, I found out that a major attraction in Mackinaw City is the Mackinac Bridge. I have never seen a bridge so long and beautiful, covering a lake that’s as big as an ocean. The lake reminds me of home where we are surrounded by the sea.

My favorite experience so far was going to Mackinac Island. We had to travel by boat, a first for me, and the ride was wonderful! No seasickness here. The atmosphere was very soothing there. On the island, there were carriages called shuttles which I found amusing. In addition, there were absolutely no cars; instead people were walking or on bicycles. There were also a lot of people from different countries, including other Jamaicans.

Another memorable experience I have had was attending a concert in Petoskey, Michigan about 45 minutes from Mackinaw City. The area and the venue were just the perfect setting. The atmosphere was quite different and certainly a new experience for me.  The music was powerful and overwhelming at times. The band rallied the crowd through their vivacious and loud performance which made them to jump and sing along. This vibrant display of freedom and happiness was compelling, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment. It was definitely a night well spent. It was not very easy to understand what the singer was saying, but seeing my new friends enjoy themselves was contagious, and I chimed in with occasional mumbles and cheers. In Jamaica, our music is comparatively slower, but the atmosphere is similar to our local dancehall events.

I am anxiously looking forward to what the next weeks have in-store for a little Jamaican in Mackinaw City, Michigan!

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