Here is my recap of the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference including observations, lessons learned, opportunities noted and recommendations:
1. For the 7th biennial conference, it is clearly obvious that there is a consistent growing pool of persons of Jamaican descent worldwide willing to travel on their own dime to share their ideas and to partner for the good of Jamaica. Attendees want to see, touch and taste more of their culture and heritage. Treat them. Value them. Thank them. Use them. Press repeat.
2. The talent pool is bottomless, but we are not doing enough to identify, connect and cross engage them both pre, during and post conference. There is more to helping us connect with each other. Our engagement platforms need a lot of work.
3. We ought to identify digital ambassadors (paid and unpaid) to magnify content and ideas out of each conference. How about special prizes for the most posts? Like a free registration for next conference or hotel stay.
4. In speaking with random non-attending Jamaicans on island , both influential and the regular woman on the street, they still don’t full grasp what their role should or could be in this diaspora movement. This must be remedied.
5. We are close to the juncture where there may need to be consideration for a Ministry dedicated to Diaspora affairs and/or a multi ministerial task force dealing with Diaspora strategies – i.e. Bigger budget needed to leverage return (sidenote – we must secure a venue with improved air conditioning – the heat was draining and impacted networking in marketplace).
6. Crime is still an Achilles heel issue and may need more engaging workshops than a singular presentation.
7. The Jamaica Stock Exchange is a sea of opportunities for wealth building and economic growth – go to jamstockex.com to learn more. Looking forward to learning more about the Bond. Hope it has accountability provisions .
8. We must be more deliberate about bridging the gap to the next generation across borders. Legacy partners should consider sponsoring conference scholarships to bring in more young people under the age of 30
9. The Day of Service component was a fulfilling & rewarding addition to the conference experience and bodes well for future community tourism opportunities. Thanks to my friends Do Good Jamaica, Breds – Treasure Beach Foundation, Irie and Ital for making our ed mural project a success.
10. The Jamaican Diaspora also includes our non-Jamaican extended family (spouses, friends) – the red carpet should remain open to them. Always.
11.Diaspora media was missing or not included in a meaningful way. It would also be advisable to find ways to involve and incorporate more diaspora media outlets to be present to cover the Conference or issues related to the week’s activities as a JTB/MFAFT/Tourism fam tour.
Yes you can
13. Finally, Minister Kamina Johnson Smith and her Staff did alot with limited resources. They should be commended. It was also great to see former Minister Arnaldo Brown present and engaged as Opposition Leader Representative. In closing, the one stop Government at Your Service was a tremendous service – I got my TRN (SSN), Birth certificate, NHT membership, and Passport documents all processed and in motion or approved. Until 2019.
Disclaimer: The following blog entry is being republished from a Facebook post of Marlon Hill, a former Diaspora Advisory Board Member for Southern US, subsequent to the recent 7th biennial conference. The views expressed are personal opinions and subject to open debate or discussion.