I’d forgotten how beautiful Jamaica was. Not the metropolitan area of St Andrew I grew up in. That was still the concrete jungle I remembered. But flying into Montego Bay, I saw the lush green landscape bordered by white sand and blue water, and I remembered how much I love and miss my home.
The Montego Bay Conference Center, a magnificent architectural specimen equipped with first world amenities and impeccable service staff, blew my mind. I visited recently for the 6th Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference, where over 2000 Jamaicans and members of the diaspora converged to discuss progress they had made and progress yet to be made in advancing trade, investment, education, health, arts and other missions. And there was some powerful stuff presented.
Presenters spoke about real solutions to real challenges and those who were able to sit through them all were well satisfied with the content of the conversations. Unfortunately, I was not one of those.
Coming from a life in entertainment, to me the audience is king. This may be more of a poor reflection on me rather than the presenters, but for me all the rich, edifying, truly relevant information was lost in complicated and overly academic pontification. It’s what we’d refer to in Jamaica as “a bag of long talking.” It’s the culture we’ve grown up in. At that level everything should be polished and lofty, suits and ties are requisite and acknowledging dignitaries takes half the presenters’ allotted time. But it’s too much! We have the goods, now we need to work on packaging them for a wider audience.
I think this was an amazing effort and to hear how the conference has grown over the past 10 years is commendable. The impact made by the connections forged there has been tremendous and I would go back to the next one in a heartbeat. But if there’s one thought I’d like to leave the organizers with, it’s the idea that they should first think about the audience, what they would like to see and how they would like to see it, before planning the next go round.
Visit www.calibe.net for video of Calibe Thompson’s presentation at the Diaspora Conference. She is the Executive Producer of the “Taste the Islands” cooking series, premiering nationwide on Create TV (www.createtv.com for details) on Monday, June 29.