GraceKennedy officially launched its 2023 Birthright Programme with a welcome reception at the company’s headquarters in Downtown Kingston on July 14. The reception introduced this year’s GK Birthright Interns, four university students from the Jamaican Diaspora: Logan Wright, University of Central Florida, USA; Bianca Byfield, Harvard University, USA; Samaya Miller, University of British Colombia, Canada; and Ras.I Martin, Oxford University, UK.
This year’s Birthright interns were selected from 176 applicants to participate in the annual five-week professional and cultural programme. GK Birthright offers second and third generation Jamaican university students the opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on experience interning at GraceKennedy, while deepening their connection with Jamaica through cultural immersion and unique Heritage Pathway Tours curated by the GK Foundation.
GK Group CFO Andrew Messado, who represented GK Group CEO Don Wehby at the welcome reception, spoke about the impact the programme has had on past participants and encouraged the 2023 cohort to be proud of their Jamaican heritage, “Beyond our idyllic beaches and rhythmic melodies, we hope you uncover the essence of our nation—a vibrant mosaic of resilience, creativity, and community. We hope this experience will help each of you to anchor your roots deeply and fortify you as proud Jamaicans.”
The Honourable Alando Terrelonge, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in charge of Diaspora affairs, also brought greetings at the event.
He explained, “The GraceKennedy Birthright Programme is a testimony to the success in exposing and connecting second, third and fourth generation Jamaicans across the Diaspora in Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom to their heritage, a proud Jamaican birthright. The Programme aligns well with the vision of the government of Jamaica, one for deeper engagement with our Diaspora youth, and a position firmly reflected in the National Diaspora Policy.”
One of the 2023 Birthright interns, Ras.I, Martin, who is from the UK and of Jamaican and Polish decent, had never visited Jamaica before the programme. He shared, “From the minute the plane landed, my impressions of Jamaica have been incredible. Getting the opportunity to understand the culture live and in the flesh has been a blessing and I am grateful to be here to experience the beauty of the culture, landscape and the people.”
The GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme is a collaboration between GraceKennedy and several public and private sector entities who also have a vested interest in nation building and engaging the Jamaican youth diaspora: the official airline partner, Caribbean Airlines; the exclusive transportation partner, Island Car Rentals; Jamaica Tourist Board; Jakes Hotel; Flow Jamaica; Chukka Caribbean; Juici Patties; Restaurants Associates of Jamaica; Restaurants of Jamaica; Island Grill; Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience; The Bob Marley Foundation; Rose Hall Great House; YS Falls; the Urban Development Corporation (Green Grotto Caves Tour); National Gallery of Jamaica; Port Authority of Jamaica (Port Royal Tour); the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation; and GraceKennedy subsidiaries, Hi-Lo Food Stores; Grace Foods & Services; Dairy Industries, and World Brands Services.
Over the next few weeks this year’s GK Birthright interns will continue to tour various historical and cultural sites across the island. One of the highlights will be Reggae Sumfest “The Return” which takes place this weekend in Montego Bay. They will also attend Jamaica’s 61st Independence celebrations at the National Stadium, before leaving the island on August 7.
For more information about the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme, visit www.gracekennedy.com