Peace Corps Jamaica held a ‘Language and Cross Culture Day’ recently at the Colin Powell Plaza in Manor Park for its most recent group of trainees who arrived in the island earlier this month.Training Director at the Peace Corps, Sandra Anderson McClymont, told JIS News how the idea of a Cross Culture Day came about.
“We came up with the idea of this day because we want to immerse the trainees in the culture of Jamaica. We believe (that) they need to know as much as they possibly can. It’s about introducing them to the food; they live with host families, so that’s introducing them to the people; and today it’s about introducing them to the dance, the music, and the drama.”
She strongly believes that, “It’s not just about learning the technical skills, but learning about our (Jamaican) people and culture.”
The group of 30 trainees were entertained and informed by a few invited guest groups and organisations. McClymont said, “We put together a nice package. We invited the Excelsior Performing Arts group, and the UWI/ Ashe group led by Michael Holgate, who did a mixture of dance, drama and music. We also invited the JNHT and the JIS, who shared information about their role in the Jamaican culture, and gave the group a feel of what Jamaica (is all about).”
Head of the School of Performing Arts at Excelsior Community College, Kenny Salmon, was enthused at the prospect of his students sharing the local culture in an exciting way to the trainees.
“We want them to enjoy the experience and to prepare them for what they can expect in Jamaica. For us it was very exciting and we enjoyed it.” He also mentioned that, “Some of these students will be going to hotels as entertainment coordinators and
managers, and we’re preparing them to bring a new brand of entertainment into the hotel industry.”
The trainees were also exposed to some artefacts by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT). Curator in the Finds Unit, Ann-marie Howard-Brown, told JIS News that it was the Trust’s first time participating in the event. “We were invited to do this event, and we thought it would be very interesting to showcase the tangible Jamaican culture to the Peace Corps Trainees.”
The organisation displayed artefacts from the Tainos, Spanish, and English, as well as the enslaved Africans.
One of the Language and Cross Culture facilitators, Tyane Robinson, is enjoying his third year with the Peace Corps. “It has been great. We show them the link between Jamaican and American culture, and we teach them the Jamaican patois, because they will be going out for two years to rural Jamaica. So it helps them to be (better) able to communicate with those they come across,” he said.
A devoted Peace Corps volunteer from Ugene, Oregon, USA, Kate Burrus, told JIS that she and her husband had chosen to come to Jamaica, after serving in China for three years, because they were told, “it is a beautiful country and we wanted to be closer to our daughters in the (US) East coast. We also heard that Jamaica is a wonderful place to serve and that (you) needed teachers.’
For her, it has been a wonderful experience. “We’ve been living with families, walking around the neighbourhoods, and eating the food. But today really gives us a further understanding of what the culture is about, and this really makes us want to be here more.”
The day ended with a cultural exchange where the trainees shared information about themselves from their own states abroad. They will also get a chance in the coming weeks to learn how to prepare Jamaican meals.
By Christine Ade-Gold, JIS Reporter