By Derrick Scott
NEW YORK – Jamaicans in the diaspora are coming in for high praise for decades of solid contribution to the development and evolution of Jamaica.
Director of diaspora and consular affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade ambassador Sharon Saunders said her compatriots’ “commitment, loyalty, patriotism, sheer hard work and accomplishment are valued and recognized, but not often not loudly enough.”
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Jamaica Diaspora North East United States two-day regional conference in Queens, New York, Friday June 10, 2016, Ambassador Saunders pointed out that the contribution of the diaspora to Jamaica’s development is integral and central and essential to Jamaica’s progress.
Addressing the gathering at the JFK Hilton Hotel in Queens, the Jamaican official urged members of the diaspora to partner with the Foreign Ministry “to strategize and initiate; to develop and innovate and grow our people and our nation.” She also pointed out that while there is a diversity of interests and strategies, “there needs to be dialogue so essential to setting the roadmap to achieve important goals.
“We in Jamaica do tend to listen to you members of the diaspora very keenly as you hold the key with which you can unlock and help us to shape our future. There is a universe of possibilities for the diaspora partnership and value to be derived from the relationship and, as with any relationship, it is a two-way street.” Ambassador Saunders pointed out that integral to the relationship there has to be a strong and dynamic engagement and involvement with younger Jamaicans, as they are the future leaders and shapers of our country.
In his remarks, Jamaica’s Acting Consul General in New York, Derrion McCreath, challenged the diaspora to consider ways in which the delivery of education in Jamaica can be improved. He pointed out that through collaborative efforts, alumni associations can share best practices with the general goal of raising the standard of education delivery.
Mr. McCreath viewed the two-day conference as having potential as a catalyst to initiate exploration of new markets for Jamaican businesses, tapping into their expertise and knowledge of the economy and business culture in the United States. “This type of partnership,” he said, “are the opportunities for businesses to create more jobs with a positive trade-off being committing to charitable outreach programs in Jamaica.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is scheduled to address participants Saturday, while Minister of Foreign and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, will deliver the keynote address at the diaspora inaugural Talawah Award Gala on Saturday night.