I remember how surprised I was some years ago, listening to someone from Grace Kennedy Ltd in a radio interview saying there were kids in Rae Town, which is near their Harbour Street headquarters, who had never been above Cross Roads in Kingston.
He was speaking about one of Grace’s outreach programmes which involves after school activities in the nearby inner cities, where many kids are extremely marginalized. His tale about Cross Roads arose as he was speaking about a discovery he made when they took some kids from the area to Hope Gardens.
That eye opener came back to me today as I was speaking to a fellow Jamaican whom I met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
She was in her early 70s and had migrated from Jamaica about 40 years ago, after having her children.
The usual conversation between Jamaicans who meet overseas, always comes around to what part of Jamaica we each hail from.
She told me she was from Kingston, Vineyard Town to be exact, but what shocked me was when she admitted that she had never visited any of Jamaica’s 12 other parishes!
Wow! I wonder if it is because I was from the country, St. Elizabeth to be exact, why I assumed there was no Jamaican who had never been to another parish. For I imagine, every country person must have visited the capital, Kingston, if for no other reason than to conduct business. For all major departments are located there and very few have country branches. So, to get anything done, you have to travel to Kingston via other parishes, even if you don’t stop!
When I enquired how come she had never travelled to another parish she said her entire family was in Kingston, so she had no reason to go elsewhere.
Makes sense, I guess, but it left me wondering how many thousands of my fellow Jamaicans have a similar story.
I used to look down on some Americans as being parochial and backwards when I heard they had never been outside their state. But America is huge by comparison so I guess that’s comparing apples and oranges.
That’s the point though, for with Jamaica being so small, it’s hard to comprehend what restricts adults from moving around our tiny, beautiful island, which some people ride around and even walk around without much stress!
If it’s even for school outings.
When I was at school, we often travelled by bus to other places to participate in sports or to cheer on our teams.
Lots of schools had outings too. I remember running into about 50 kids at Green Grotto Caves in Discovery Bay, not so long ago. They told me they were from a primary school in Kingston and were on a school outing.
I really think such school outings should be as much a part of school activities as Math and English. How it would foster pride in our country with its unique natural beauty among other things, if we all knew about this little paradise of ours.
Many decades ago, when I went to school, Civics was also part of the curriculum. Every child knew something about the structure of the country, its Government, etc. Now it seems such general knowledge is mainly restricted to those who are being prepared for things like Schools Challenge Quiz.
What a shame.
There is so much more to our country than crime and violence.
If the Ministry of Education made provisions for school outings, I am sure important institutions like the White Marl Museum in St. Catherine and Paul Bogle’s Memorial at Stony Gut would not be closed down because of lack of visitors.
Maybe I am being simplistic, but I am positive that if we knew more about our gem known as Jamaica, we would cherish it more and not allow politicians not make such a mess of it!
Joan Williams is a retired talk-show host. She can be followed at; joan-myviews.blogspot.com or contacted at [email protected]