I have often stated to friends in the past that I think Jamaica has a lot of problems that need to be fixed. However, I was always sure that one thing Jamaica did do was make people feel at home. In the past few weeks I have been shown that this is not the case with all Jamaicans.
To explain my reason for saying this I should begin with saying that for the past year my sister has been going to school in Norway and has just returned to begin her last year in a two year programme there. She has met people from all over the world and some of her dearest friends now come from countries such as Sweden, Turkey and Hong Kong. It is because that these people from all over the world have welcomed her in a place completely different from Jamaica that makes me extremely upset about our own treatment of two people from Sweden. My mother recently met two men from Sweden who are in Jamaica for 4 months to complete the field portion of their social work course. She was able to help them find a place to stay at UWI and tried to make them feel as welcome as she possibly could. Others, were not as kind. There were those who lived near them who made them feel unwelcomed. Yelling out comments such as “You don’t belong here” whenever they walked by as well as “All white men should be killed”.
It was this particular comment that made them find other accomodations as quickly as possible because they weren’t quite sure what would be done to them after a statement like this had been made. What upsets me the most about this situation is that my sister and I have been made to feel at home in the places that we have gone to study and yet people within Jamaica have not been able to extend the same hospitality to others.
While I realise that not all Jamaicans are like this and that instead, it is a small minority that will do something like this, they are the ones who are giving Jamaica a bad name. I realise that the people who made these comments were not in the tourism industry and thank God they weren’t because then Jamaica would be in an even sorrier state than it is now. Making people feel unwelcomed and scared is no way to make people want to come to Jamaica, whether to visit or to contribute in some way to our society.
I only hope that eventually we will all realise that people deserve to be treated with respect and common decency. Therefore, while I think Jamaica, on a whole, is a wonderful place I realise that it has serious problems that need to be fixed in this country so that people will no longer have any reservations about booking a flight and coming to visit or those already here will think again about moving away…Christine.