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We are the Carleva Bay Center for Global Understanding

Humble Beginnings

Carleva Bay was founded in 2003 as a home base for Edu-Tourism, an NGO dedicated to creating and supporting projects in the local Jamaican community. For over 15 years, Edu-Tourism has developed professional relationships with local hospitals, health clinics, schools, and cultural institutions. Our mission is to empower, and educate. We have seen first-hand the impact our participants have on the surrounding community, and how they themselves have grown and transformed. The Carleva Center seeks to share the beautiful energy and people of St. Thomas, Jamaica with the rest of the world.

Carleva Bay

The Center is housed in a charming, architecturally-designed, villa on Yallahs Bay in the historic township of Yallahs, St. Thomas. This bustling township is the second largest in the parish (some 9,000 population) and comes with such amenities as banks, a branch library, sidewalk restaurants serving Jamaica’s best jerk delicacies, a police post, basic, primary, and high schools, a medical clinic, a pharmacy, and postal services.

The Beauty of St. Thomas Parish

In the original Arawak language, Jamaica means “land of wood and water.” Appropriately, St. Thomas has more than its fair share of mountains and major rivers. Located at the southeastern tip of Jamaica, about 20 miles east of the nation’s capital of Kingston, this region boasts four distinct types of microclimates: From the dry Albion plains, to the Swiss-like slopes of the Blue Mountains, to the bogs and swamps of some of the coastline, and the savannah-type land around Yallahs.  Naturally, there are also plenty of pristine beaches.

St. Thomas is rich in local history and lore. St. Thomas and neighboring Portland had over 200 large sugar estates, evidence of which is scattered liberally throughout the parish.  This history carries its share of pain, suffering, but also of resistance, as evidenced by large numbers of slave and peasant rebellions.  The local culture and lore are preserved in such cultural choreography as Kumina and Jankanoo, and their related artistic practices.  Two of Jamaica’s national heroes, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, are sons of St. Thomas.  Another, Alexander Bustamante, was an “adopted son.”

We are often told that traditional tourism contributes to economic development. We, at Carleva Bay, disagree. Within our philosophy of edutourism we maintain that contributing to sustainable economic and community development requires a major shift in perspective. Our mission is to empower, and educate. The Carleva Center seeks to share the beautiful energy and people of St. Thomas, Jamaica with the rest of the world.


Edutourism Goes Beyond

Edutourism is an alternative tourism that incorporates and goes beyond aspects of heritage tourism, eco-tourism, and community tourism. It is a hybrid that takes into account the visitor’s need for enjoyment in a stress-free environment, and is grounded in the local people’s deep cultural roots, social and economic needs, and active participation. Edutourism creates reciprocal partnerships, through which all parties learn and contribute their respective resources, expertise, and skills. It involves host communities in a dynamic and self-defined forms of economic and community development. The result is something that makes the whole experience qualitatively different from traditional leisure tourism.

Beyond heritage tourism

It promotes native culture not only as cultural festivals, but as new and empowering historical learning. It reverses the trend that sanitizes and commodifies native culture for foreign consumption. In so doing it creates new arenas for learning that are driven by local indigenous problem-solving. For example, plantation great houses and cultural artifacts can play a crucial role by serving an educational function and promoting local economic empowerment and new engines of growth.

Beyond ecological tourism

Edutourism promotes the maintenance and preservation of a pristine environment. It believes in using the gifts of the environment toward social and economic development. For example, it identifies ecologically sound ways to transform environmental waste into usable resources for economic purposes and educates local communities in the process (social, technological, etc.) to make it sustainable.

Beyond community tourism

Edutourism promotes community-based activities in the context of larger agendas of community development and education. It resurrects knowledge and skill-bases that are disappearing, and combines them with new technologies to create micro-industries, cooperatives, and economic activities. These resources become potential tourist attractions to which both local people and visitors can contribute. For example, jerk cuisine, a throwback to slave practices of St. Thomas and neighboring Portland, is now a delicacy in many metropolitan cities outside of Jamaica.

Beyond trickle-down development

It promotes self-reliance through effective partnership arrangements and community-based education. We take seriously the saying, don’t give the hungry person a fish, teach them how to fish! And we also know that people have the ability to define their needs but require resources to realize their dreams. For us, self-reliance demands the people’s active collaboration in planning and project completion. For example, the information superhighway (AKA the Internet!), through computer technology, should link local needs with international resources.


Meet the Team

Novella Keith

A Professor Emerita in the Graduate Program in Urban Education at Temple University and distinguished educator and global service learning expert.

Nelson Keith

A Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dr. Nelson Keith founded, and was Director of, the Institute for International Development at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

Vanessa Keith

Vanessa is a registered architect, professor, and founder of New York based architecture firm Studioteka Design. She is also the author of 2100: A...

Kingsley Keith

A former mechanical engineer, Kinglsey is the “man a yaad” at Carleva, arranging transportation, food, and entertainment. Kingsley often hosts groups at Carleva.

Denise Jeffrey

Trained by Ritz Carlton sous chef Tarek, for the last 5 years Denise has been Carleva’s chef. She is affectionately referred as “Miss J”!

Curious? Read more about our Carleva Bay story on the blog!

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