The Jamaican community in the New York City area has a very strong connection back to the island in the Caribbean. The over 1.1 million tri-state residents from Jamaica have what could best be described as an “air bridge” to home with the constant flow of remittances as well as goods of every type. Every day people in the New York City Jamaican community are packing and sending barrels, boxes or containers filled with goods and necessities for their family members all over the island.
With these themes in mind, the Jamaican government has been holding a five day meeting every two years entitled: “Jamaica Diaspora Conference.” The June 2015 edition of the meeting will be the sixth time the event has been held. The New York office of the consulate held a get together last night at St George Episcopal Church to introduce the conference to the local Jamaican residents. Her Excellency Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica was in the area on a visit; she graciously attended the event and spoke to the audience about the fundamental necessity of a strong bond between the island and residents abroad.
First, she emphasized the importance of the community here and around the world to the homeland and second, development of a stronger Jamaica. She described the Diaspora as a “valuable pillar to the Island of Jamaica.” She was effusive in her praise of the community in this area, and she was so motivated by the audience that she tossed her prepared remarks aside and stated emphatically to the assembled individuals: “You are greater than any words that can be written on any paper.”
The remarks of the Prime Minister capped an evening of speeches presented by the organizers as well as the government officials responsible for organizing this conference. The speakers all followed a similar theme – the need for increased investment in business as well as other sectors to continue to strengthen Jamaica’s economy and future. The expressed goal of the biennial event is to stimulate new business development as well as to diversify trade.
All of the speakers made sure to remind the audience that Jamaicans came from a small place geographically, yet their work and culture bring a positive light to the nation. The influence of Bob Marley on many music genres as well as the athletic exploits of the Jamaican track and field athletes can never be discounted as the PM said: “ [We are] a tiny dot on a map yet we are a great people.”
It is hoped that the Diaspora residents will see the conference through this lens and make certain to return to Montego Bay for this event. For further information regarding the conference, please check the following linked site: http://jamaicadiasporaconnect.com/conference/6th-biennial-diaspora