I’ve been one of the skeptics of the so-called “diaspora movement” for a long time. Until I was instructed by a very dear friend and religious leader that I would be participating in the biannual Jamaica Diaspora Conference this year, I was one of the folks who had determined that the movement was all a bunch of talk and that action never came out of it. Now that I’ve been asked to speak at the event, researching the reality of what goes on and what might engage other generations to become involved is revealing new things to me.
There are many in the Jamaican diaspora (those living outside the island) who seek to engage the wider diaspora community in helping to advance and develop the home island. For those folks, the die-hards who want to see change for the better, it’s worth the investment of over $1000 to visit Jamaica to listen to panels populated by local and international thought leaders, pick their brains for a few days, and share their own ideas on the way forward.
After these events however, from the outside we don’t see resulting action, so it seems like these gatherings amount to only words without works. I’m learning however that may be due to poor marketing rather than actual inertia. Apparently much of the activity resulting from these events takes place on an institutional level. In one leader’s case, he had facilitated the connection of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association with an educational group in California resulting in an exchange exercise that would benefit over 100 Jamaican educators and give a needed push in the direction of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or “STEM” studies.
As wonderful as initiatives like these are, perhaps we need to learn from the big corporations. Invest big in doing good works and then invest big in telling people about the good works you’ve done.
Easier said than done, I know. But this is the type of knowledge that spurs continued engagement and contribution. The more we know, the less skeptical we become.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of the “Taste the Islands” cooking series, now airing M & Th at 7:30PM, and Sat at 3:30PM on South Florida’s WPBT2 (Ch 2). Her next television project “Island Origins” explores the concept of the American Dream from the Caribbean perspective.