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Jamaican students, teachers for cultural exchange programme in the US

Wednesday, September 11, 2013    

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SEVEN Jamaican students and two teachers are set to participate in an exciting cultural exchange under the United States (US) State Department Youth Ambassadors Programme.

The students and their mentors were selected by the United States Embassy's Public Affairs Section, and will be involved in an intensive learning experience in the urban areas of Denver, Colorado and Washington DC for four weeks in October.

They are Kimberley Allan and Marissa Miller from Bustamante High; Kemeisha Ellis from Denbigh High; Amanda Smikle and Marsha Watson (teacher) from Cumberland High; Orville Levy from Old Harbour High; and Judine Smith, Robert Johnson (teacher), and Ashli McClure from Charlemont High.

At a pre-departure briefing session held Monday morning at the United States Embassy, Public Affairs Officer Christopher Degnan congratulated the participants.

"These students are youth leaders who will benefit from special workshops and discussions and will live with US host families," he stated.

He noted that the experience will highlight the similarities and common challenges youth face both in the United States and Jamaica, and the Youth Ambassadors will get to see some ways in which young people try to improve their communities.

"After the travel, the participants will return to the island to engage in projects within their home communities, using what they have learnt as well as their spirit of volunteerism and pride in Jamaica to implement projects of their own choosing," he noted.

For his part, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Sydney Bartley, urged the students to always remember that they are from a country that is revered across the world.

"Ambassadorship means being proud of your heritage and being willing to transfer that heritage to the knowledge of others. So, when you go you must go with the knowledge of being Jamaican. You have to do some research before you go... on the things we have created so that when somebody comes up to you and say tell me about your country, you represent yourself well," Bartley said.

He also mentioned that the Youth Ambassadors Programme should be seen as a transformational opportunity by the participants.

Participant Ashli McClure said that she was very excited to be participating in the programme.

"I can't wait to learn a lot of new stuff and meet a lot of new people, exchange what I know and learn what they know. I hope to learn about the challenges that other children face in America, about their culture and environment," Ashli said.

Her mother, Opal Haye McClure, noted that she is proud that her daughter was chosen to represent Jamaica.

"Going on this programme I know that she will do well in promoting Jamaica and bringing back ideas and she will be exposed to various things that she is not used to here such as the cold weather," McClure said.

The delegation is scheduled to travel to the United States on October 6 and remain there until the 29th. Other participating countries include The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Guyana, and Suriname.

— JIS

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