• JIS News

    More than 600 Caribbean students attending tertiary institutions in Florida will come together for the 36th annual conference of the Florida Caribbean Students Association (FCSA) which begins on Friday, April 9 at the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa campus.
    The three-day event, which is being held under the theme: ‘Culture Shock: Spotlight on the Caribbean,’ will provide the opportunity for network and interaction with alumni and professional groups and raise awareness about regional issues, through workshops, cultural celebrations and exchanges, and recreational events.
    The objective is to further enhance the understanding and exposure of Caribbean culture, traditions, customs and values, and promote and strengthen the interests and welfare of the FCSA.
    Conference chair, Ms. Kerri-Jo McLean, a Jamaican national and senior student at USF, told JIS News that this year’s programme will place greater emphasis on Caribbean subject matters, while at the same time enhancing the positives of the region.
    She said that first, second and third generation Caribbean descendents, will also be able to explore their Caribbean identity “giving them a deeper connection (and) reinforcing the fact that we are all equally Caribbean.”
    At the leadership luncheon, which will be held as part of the conference, students will interact with invited community leaders across the Diaspora as they share their experiences. Among the invited guests are representatives of the Caribbean Consular Corps in Florida, who will also provide an insight into topical interests in the region.
    While the conference will also raise awareness about Caribbean issues,
    Ms. McLean, informed that the event, which ends on Sunday, April 11, will provide tools and links to resources to allow participants to find meaningful ways to get involved in issues and projects in the Caribbean.
    She mentioned, for example, the volunteer drives already established in which students are helping in the Haitian Relief effort at University of South Florida. Activities like these, she explained, help students to stay connected with their homeland while pursuing their education.
    Ms. McLean, who is pursuing studies in Business and Law, is actively involved in activities on campus including USF student government, and service projects – mentoring and reading. She is passionate about returning to Jamaica, “My plans are to return home and try to help build my country, on completion of my studies,” she told JIS News.
    Jamaican Diaspora Southern USA advisory board member, Mr. Marlon Hill, who will be participating in the conference advisory sessions, said that there will be opportunity for students during networking engagements, to be able to establish relationships with their counterparts in Jamaica as well as those of the Diaspora Future Leaders.
    The FSCA has a membership of nearly 3,600 students. There are some 28 Caribbean member organisations representing universities throughout the State of Florida.

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