The four interns are Tianna Thomas of Brock University in Canada, Menelik Graham from Princeton University in the USA, Matthew Robinson of Georgetown University, USA, and Cleveland Douglas of the UK-based Imperial College.
Speaking at the welcome event, Executive Director of the GraceKennedy Foundation, Caroline Mahfood, expressed her satisfaction in the selected interns. She stated, “We have chosen four exceptional interns this year who we believe will be remarkable ambassadors for not only GraceKennedy, but for Jamaica on a whole. A big part of the success is the support we receive from our partners. We are indeed thrilled by the outpouring of support from the Diaspora since the reintroduction of the programme, and the tremendous support that we have received from our partners, both locally and in the diaspora.”
Paul Pennicook, Director of Tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board, also spoke at the event. He commended GraceKennedy for its continued support in nation building, both at home and abroad. “Through their programme, GraceKennedy has given birth to another set of ambassadors,” he stated.
The GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme, which started 12 years ago, was revived in 2015 and aims to reconnect second and third generation Jamaican university students living in the USA, UK and Canada to their Jamaican heritage via cultural and professional education. The one-month internship is offered annually to four students in the diaspora who have never lived in Jamaica for a period longer than six months. The programme is designed to give interns a well-rounded experience of Jamaica as they work in a GraceKennedy subsidiary linked to their field of study and participate in cultural activities on the weekends. Interns benefit from this programme professionally as they gain practical experience and mentorship while being immersed in Jamaican culture.
Fascinated at the opportunity to live and work in Jamaica, the interns met members of the board of GraceKennedy Limited, along with the Programme’s corporate and government partners at the welcome event.
Having arrived in Jamaica the first week of July, they have already visited the National Gallery and the Bob Marley Museum and toured Fort Charles and The University of the West Indies’ Marine and Biodiversity Laboratory at Port Royal. Over the duration of their internship, they will visit Dolphin Cove, Yaaman Adventure Tours, Chukka Tours, Appleton Estate Rum Tour, Martha Brae, Frenchman Cove, Dunn's River Falls and Green Grotto Caves, ending their stay in Jamaica with Emancipation and Independence celebrations.
“Over the past few days, the internship has already surpassed my expectations. I applied for the Birthright Programme because I wanted the opportunity to reconnect with my Jamaican heritage through all spheres including a chance to be a part of Jamaica’s vibrant business community,” Tianna Thomas stated.
Through the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme, the students are provided with air and ground transportation, accommodation and a stipend for the duration of their internship.
Partners of the GraceKennedy Birthright programme include: Caribbean Airlines, Island Car Rentals, Dolphin Cove, Chukka, the Jamaica Tourist Board, FLOW Jamaica, SeaGarden Beach Resorts, Grace Foods, Hi-Lo Food Stores, Island Grill, Burger King, Tastee, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Appleton, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Bob Marley Museum, Rose Hall Great House and the National Gallery.
Further information on the Birthright programme can be obtained at: www.gracekennedy.com/birthright.
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