BY KEVIN YEBOAH
One of the most ironic things an individual can tell to another is, “go back to where ever you came from” especially in situations where the other party has yet to go back there! Likewise having the stigma from family, friends or folks of your background who find it unfathomable that anyone could grow up without knowing the core and integral aspects of culture to their life. First, second, third; however many generations down the line you can go, these people are almost never fully absorbed into their culture, students especially. However, in recent years there have been programs and good people who care about the state of tradition and culture to learn these students, giving them an opportunity to get involved, be proactive and apart of the conversation.
The GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme is just the right outlet to introducing people (more specifically post-secondary students) to an enriched, prolonged experience exposing, enriching and enlightening students on the Jamaican experience. Through music, social activity, professional tutelage and internships at GraceKennedy, students become not only more sensitive to their Jamaican background but acutely aware in the things that inherently involve themselves as Jamaican people. The year 2015 was a huge success as four students, Kira Starks, Janae Bell, Ukpong Etang and Jamila Turner Dell’Acqua, were selected out of many applications spanning from across Canada, the US and the UK.
“It has been a fruitful experience, full of exciting, adventurous activities and provided a great insight into the Jamaican culture. The professional element of the internship was very rewarding and allowed me to develop teamwork and leadership skills.” said twenty one year old Jamila Turner a Dance Graduate and one of four in the 2015 round of participants. According to Janae a Harvard U student, “I really developed a love and appreciation for Jamaica on this trip. I was able to experience the life and culture as a resident rather than a tourist. The GK Birthright Programme is one I recommend all students of Jamaican heritage take part in.” A very stark and telling insight to the GraceKennedy program to Jamaica. Whilst having raving reviews across the board.
Although the GraceKennedy Programme is a somewhat short experience as students are sent off for a full month, (granted that they attend a post-secondary institution, are passing with adequate marks, have yet to experience an extended six month period in Jamaica whilst being of some Jamaican decent) it still begs to pose an inner spark in these students to be aware of their culture. Even more so being second or third generational children growing up in sometimes completely oppositional circumstances to what their origins truly are. The GraceKennedy Programme has made a continual effort in taking strides to have second and third generational students grow in light of their culture as these future influential working people in the world can have a wide scope and a boisterous attitude in tackling issues of their culture should they arise.
GraceKennedy is now accepting applications for next years program until November 30th, 2015. To apply for this amazing summer internship programme send your applications to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.gracekennedy.com for more details. Seize the opportunity to experience Jamaican Culture and heritage next summer!