Our newest columnist, Margaret Bailey, shares her memories of Jamaica as reminisces about how things have changed.
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Reminiscing About Jamaica

I was reminiscing the other day about how much life has changed. The children of today have so many liberties that sometimes they don’t know what to do with themselves.

I remember going to Prep School in Jamaica and you would never dare talk back to your teachers. Teachers were held in high esteem and regard, and even though our teachers were strict, we still appreciated them. Attributes such as excellence and leadership were constantly instilled in us. In contrast today, everyone wants to be part of a pack. Individuality is frowned on instead of being emulated. As students we were motivated to work hard and get good grades because it made us genuinely feel a sense of accomplishment.

Wearing our school uniforms gave us a sense of pride and made us easily recognizable by rival schools. It was competition, but it was all in good fun.

During these years we were exposed to a well-rounded curriculum: Art, Dance, Music, Sports, Languages, as well as regular academic subjects. We had no options. We participated in all the activities, and I feel that today as we reflect, would agree that we are fortunate to have had those experiences.

This was a time when we formed true friendships, and as a Jamaican woman, I believe we appreciated the beauty of another Jamaican girl. These horrendous jealousies that exist today, were not as prevalent then. We truly learnt to appreciate sisterhood. As we studied for common entrance exams, we were competitive but we still rooted for our friends to do well. Failure was not an option.

When I left Prep School and attended an all girl’s academy, I was exposed to young women from all over Jamaica and the world, we may have all looked different, but we had one thing in common, and that was, that we were Jamaicans. Again, it seems as if we were all on a journey of finding womanhood together. During this time I believe I met some of Jamaica’s most beautiful and intelligent women, and they were very comfortable with themselves and really did not transcend the need to be competitive with each other. Women were taught to be strong leaders and wives, and always to stand up for what they believed in. Some of the strongest women I know are Jamaican women.

At a very early age we started to formulate plans for our future. It seems that back then, both young men and women had plans. You went to school, chose a life partner and had a family. Today, people seem to wander aimlessly through life. The family life is not as important anymore. Finally, as I recall all the wonderful opportunities that I have had to learn and grow in the Jamaican School System, I am grateful each day for every moment. It has helped me strive for excellence when the World would have me settle for second best. It has given me a tenacious spirit, but even more importantly it has made me a well-rounded individual, who understands and appreciates various cultures.

I wish that all students were exposed to the Jamaican School System; their lives would be so much more enriched. Do you ever remember being bored as a child in Jamaica? First of all, if you mentioned to anyone that you were bored they would tell you, “Just tek a book and read it!” as for drugs, the response would be, “Tek two phensic and go lie dung an keep yu self quiet!” How things have changed!

About the author

Margaret J.Bailey