JIS News

The Friends of Jamaica Seattle (FOJS) and the Jamaican Consulate in Seattle recently hosted Jamaica’s new Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley.
He was guest of honour and the keynote speaker at the organization’s seventh annual fund-raising dinner in aid of several primary and secondary schools, particularly in rural Jamaica.
The FOJS, whose membership is drawn from both Jamaicans and Americans in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, in addition to its emphasis on assisting educational efforts in Jamaica, has had an interest in promoting Jamaican culture in the Seattle area, as well as in the state of Washington. In addition, it has staged several outreach initiatives directed at both young and second-generation Jamaicans residing in Seattle.
The organization is directed by Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Seattle, Enid Dwyer.
Ambassador Shirley took the opportunity to update Jamaicans in Seattle about the devastation which was occasioned by Hurricane Ivan and apprised them of ways in which the overseas community could assist with rebuilding efforts underway in the island.
In addition to meeting with key community leaders, Ambassador Shirley met with the General Manager of Global Outsourcing of the Microsoft Corporation, Mary Snelling, and also addressed the West Indians at Microsoft (WIAM) group at a special luncheon, which was staged in the Ambassador’s honour. Addressing a ‘Friends of Jamaica’ fund-raiser, Ambassador Shirley applauded the Jamaican community in Seattle for its very “strong and enduring support for the economic and social development of the island”. He noted that he was particularly heartened by second generation Jamaicans who remained interested in embracing their heritage and were committed to finding ways to increase their involvement in initiatives that would aid Jamaica’s welfare.
The Ambassador also commended the community for its continued emphasis on supporting the education of Jamaica’s young people and its desire to invest in programmes that would better prepare young Jamaicans for an increasingly dynamic global marketplace.
“Seattle is renowned as a city of philanthropists,” he said, citing Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates. “Jamaicans have also played their role in giving back to the more vulnerable and the underserved sections of our country,” he added.
Commenting on Hurricane Ivan, which devastated Jamaica on September 10, Ambassador Shirley said in real terms, it was not simply a natural disaster with an impact on a few Caribbean nations. It was, he said, “a Caribbean problem”, and thus had to be dealt with in a collective and integrated way by all CARICOM states.
The Jamaican envoy said that the scale of devastation in Grenada and Haiti meant that even while Jamaica sought to marshall assistance for its own reconstruction, there was also a need to appeal to the international community for additional support for countries which had experienced the most severe devastation from natural disasters. Professor Shirley challenged Jamaicans in Seattle to continue their advocacy on behalf of Jamaica and to actively support the island’s development agenda. “Jamaicans are a strong, resilient people, who are beginning to march again. I encourage you to be a part of this process and to increase your efforts in building a strong and productive Jamaica,” he said.

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