International Day

Yesterday we celebrated International Day at Utech. Hundreds of high school students attended, giving them a chance to be exposed to the cultures of other countries. They were certainly enthusiastic and crowded the booths, which included Venezuela, Colombia, South Korea, Canada and several other groups. We also welcomed the new High Commissioner for Canada, Ms. Laurie Peters. It was a great day, including this performance from St. George’s Preparatory School.

Fort Clarence trip

We took a trip to Fort Clarence this weekend. I have not been out there for awhile and it did not disappoint. We went before the crowds came and had a nice spot to ourselves.  The water was warm, but not too warm, staving off my husband’s fear of “cold” water that could make the baby sick. We swan forever and ate fresh, fried fish. A beautiful day.

BBC interview with Minister Bartlett

The BBC did an interview with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett this weekend. Minister Bartlett is defending the nation’s tourism industry, citing a retention rate of 42 per cent. He is denying that tourists are in danger. This is probably true, as most tourists leave Jamaica unscathed.

However, I find the logic of this sales pitch difficult to accept. Minister Bartlett is saying, in essence, that it is ok that Jamaicans are killing each other at a rate of over 1,300 per year, as long as they don’t bother the tourists. Of course, those are not his exact words, but that is the message track he gave to the BBC interviewer. Quite a depressing sales pitch: as long as the locals are only killing each other, it’s ok, tourism can carry on.

The value of internships


Last week, 18 Degrees North founder Zahra Burton visited my Fundamentals of Journalism class. It was a lively discussion which seemed to ultimately settle on the subject of internships. This was also recently the subject of a fierce Twitter discussion that brought up the age-old question of fair compensation. (One well-known broadcaster was complaining about the quality and lack of work ethic amongst today’s young people who participate in internships. Some people reacted quickly, saying that employers today  take advantage of these young interns.)

These are usually the two schools of thought- one being that employers use and abuse young people without sufficient compensation, and the other being that any experience is valuable, even if there is no pay.

I myself side with the latter argument, although I’m fully aware that I’m coming from a position of privilege. As one young man said, he’s been on his own paying his own bills since he was 16 years old. He cannot afford to work for free. At this point, Zahra suggested that there are several government-funded internships, and many do offer a stipend, as she does.

What I know for sure is that my first unpaid internship changed my life and set the trajectory of my career. I also know that internships are geared towards people with financial means and privilege and that this systemic issue needs to be addressed. I have always been of the mindset that the experience and connections are invaluable, perhaps more so than financial compensation. But what if you cannot afford bus fare or lunch money to get to the internship, let alone to pay your rent while you work for free? Why should a similarly qualified and talented person get the opportunity, while you miss out because of your financial status? This perpetuates privilege and prevents people from advancing in their careers. It is a complicated issue with many questions and many answers that have yet to be explored properly.