5 Questions with Shauna Chin Candidate for Global Jamaica Diaspora Council – USA West/Mid West Region

Shauna Chin

Shauna Chin uses her skills as a US Army trained Nurse and her notoriety as an actress to augment her humanitarian efforts and raise awareness to various causes.

The Gulf War veteran served 8 years in the United States Army and achieved two baccalaureate degrees: one in Business Administration and a second in Nursing which she utilized to teach nursing students before transitioning into an acting career. Thus making her, despite her youth, the only candidate in the combined regions with documented expertise to advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on not just one, but all the key subject areas in which counsel is being requested: citizen security, education, health and wellness, arts sports and culture, commerce and development issues.

She was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO) and the United Nations Association of Jamaica (UNAJ). She actively volunteers at the Honorary Consulate of Jamaica-Los Angeles where she implemented a successful immigration and deportation plan. If elected, her goal in addition to serve as an Advisor is to ensure that all Jamaicans in her region will have: a valid government issued ID; an immigration and deportation plan and increased access to their nearest Consulate to ease doing business with Jamaica.

What is your connection to Jamaica? Have you been involved in the Jamaica Diaspora Movement or Jamaican related organizations before?
I was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica and migrated to the United States after completion at Mount Alvernia High school and I’ve always maintained close ties with Jamaica. I’ve filmed multiple projects in Jamaica and worked closely with the various Film Commissioners throughout the years in  increasing film as a business for Jamaica’s benefit.

Due to my multiple humanitarian efforts for Jamaica’s benefit, I was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the diaspora organization NAJASO by fellow candidate B Roy Davidson and most recently appointed as the United Nations Association of Jamaica Ambassador where my role is to help raise funds for supporting Jamaica’s role in the sustainable development goals and the principles of the United Nations. I have been actively involved as a volunteer at the Honorary Consulate of Jamaica-Los Angeles where I help to assist Jamaican nationals in matters regarding immigration, deportation and doing general business with Jamaica.

Shauna Chin

Shauna Chin

If elected what will be your main goal in this role for your constituencies?

Each of the four candidates running in my region are demonstrated strong Leaders within our community, therefore whoever wins the election will prove to be an excellent Advisor to the Minister. However, my main goal is to not only serve as an Advisor but to actively address the age old question that has been asked at every diaspora conference I’ve attended over the years: “How does this benefit me in the diaspora?”. The diaspora majority has spoken tirelessly that they don’t just want engagement and provided information, they want tangible benefits from diaspora involvement. This is the primary reason many previous attempts by the Ministry of both political parties have fallen short in completing a database of Jamaicans in the diaspora. Many are hesitant to sign up to a database that they feel doesn’t benefit them directly.

My goal is my entire platform: to provide tangible benefits to members of the diaspora in my region and share my successful plan with the other Representatives of the other regions, that all Jamaicans in every region may start seeing results that matter to them. I intend to start with the most concerning topic which is immigration. In order for a diaspora to operate at its highest successful potential, we need every member to participate profitably and we cannot do that if a large number of our members are facing immigration and deportation concerns. I intend to ensure that all Jamaicans in my region will have a valid government issued ID; an immigration and deportation plan and increased access to their nearest Consulate to ease doing business with Jamaica. This is the first step to ensuring that every link in our entire diaspora chain is strong and thus enhance our success as a nation.

I intend to achieve that by sharing my successful immigration and deportation plan which I developed using the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained from working closely with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Jamaica’s Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to assist our nationals facing immigration and deportation concerns. One of the key actions in this plan is creating a team to:

1. Tap into multiple resources within the diaspora to help obtain financial assistance for persons unable to pay for their government issued ID. Currently a Jamaican passport costs $110 USD to renew or $190 USD to replace if lost and the costs are subject to increase. Many of our nationals are unable to pay that cost, so they remain undocumented. That must change.

2. Help with the completion of the passport application by providing the available resources and hosting immigration clinics throughout my region for persons unable to complete without physical assistance. Working at the Honorary Consulate of Jamaica – Los Angeles, I witness first hand the difficulty that some of our nationals have in navigating the resources available to complete and submit their applications. That must change.

3. Hold immigration clinics throughout my region with Immigration Lawyers I already have on board to provide legal assistance to nationals facing immigration and deportation concerns.

During my tour of the region, I intend to hold community forums in each location to determine what other on the ground concerns matter to our nationals and actively attempt to initiate a plan to address them.

Shauna Chin

Shauna Chin

Many in the Jamaican community abroad don’t know much about the Jamaica Diaspora movement and its goals. What will you do to change this perception and get all Jamaicans in the Diaspora involved?
With the help of the Ministry, I will initiate plans, such as my immigration and deportation plan, that have a tangible benefit for the members of our diaspora. We currently have decreased diaspora engagement because many believe it doesn’t matter to them. We need to provide tangible solutions to concerns that matter to them for them to not gloss over the information that we disseminate. The information about the diaspora movement and goals is out there, we just have to include specific solutions on issues that matter to them to get them more involved in reading the information that is out there. It has to matter to them, that’s how we get them involved.

Recently there have been some who have expressed concerns about not having a voice and too much government involvement in the new The Global Jamaica Diaspora Council format that is being adopted. Do you have any thoughts on this?
The reason an election is currently being held for an Advisory position is primarily to address that concern and ensure that everyone in the diaspora has a voice. As far as the level of Government involvement, how will our diaspora benefit from Jamaica or vice versa if we don’t have governmental engagement? Even something as simple as shipping a barrel to family members in Jamaica has governmental implications. Without governmental engagement, we don’t have a way to voice that customs fees are too high, or that additional benefits for returning residents can be put in place. Frankly, I don’t see how we can be successful if we are only talking amongst ourselves. We need a direct ear to the people in place who can affect change and at this point, it is our Ministry. We need their involvement to successfully affect change and they need us in the diaspora involved to tell them what matters to us.

Is there a cohesive goal for the Jamaican Diaspora that people can rally around?
Yes. The goal for a more inclusive diaspora.

Thanks for your time and all the best in the election. Do you have any closing thoughts?
Fresh doesn’t mean inexperienced. We need fresh Leaders in diaspora representation to break up the monotony of the current rhetoric. We need fresh Leaders who will bring new wave ideas and solutions to bring Jamaica’s diaspora into the next century. My goal for us is to be operating on the scale as Israel’s diaspora. That’s a steep goal, but we need Leaders in position who think big, think future and take clear swift actions like I was trained to do in the military. I’m forever in gratitude for the former Leaders whose shoulders we stand on, but the time is now for the baton change and I’m rooting for everybody young.

Follow Shauna Chin
Twitter: @shaunachin
Instagram: @shaunachin

About the author

Xavier Murphy