Usain Bolt gets stiff competion for Jamaican Ambassador

While Bolt and Company was tearing up the Penn Relays, another key Jamaican group was wooing Virginia.
This past April our eyes were on Usain Bolt who brought a fresh bolt of electricity to our national pride.
However, while this was happening, another team of Jamaicans were on a mission of a different kind; this mission did not take 39 seconds, but 30 days of extracting juicy business nectar from business leaders in Virginia.

Mark, Denise, Kellie-Ann, & team leader Andre

Their initiative will provide fresh goodwill and business opportunities beyond our dreams.
Team leader Andre Hylton, an Assistant Governor-Elect of Jamaica’s Rotary clubs, led a dynamic team of young Jamaican professionals consisting of Denise Garfield, a Corporate Planner for the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League Limited; Kellie-Ann Styles, a Financial Advisor with Jamaica Money Market Brokers, and Mark Barnett, Area Manager for the National Water Commission.

So how did they get this opportunity to wow Virginia? Well, the vision of Horace and Carlota McCormack, Governor and First lady of Rotary International’s, District 7610 in Virginia was critical. Horace as Governor provides leadership to a District consisting of 53 clubs that spread from Northern to Central Virginia.

Carlota & Horace McCormack - First Lady & Governor Rotary International

This lovely couple, who is also from Jamaica, provided the leadership to enable this pioneering professional exchange to be realized. In the past, similar team exchanges with Brazil, India, the Philippines, and other countries; but Horace just knew a Jamaican team would shine for the country and absorb a wealth of knowledge that would benefit the Island.

This professional exchange allowed the participants to brainstorm Virginia, sharing the culture and value proposition of Jamaica, while getting exposed to new methodologies that will enhance their professional skill banks. They also lived in the homes of various Rotarians where further cultural exchanges and bonds of friendship blossomed. They were able to visit 40 clubs in just one month!

Setting up a program of this magnitude takes lots of on-the-ground logistics and coordination effort. Dr. Lois Wilson (McLean Rotary Club) and Michelle Peters (Bailey’s Cross Roads Rotary Club), headed the dedicated volunteers who made this program a success.

I had the privilege of being invited to the closing function of this grand initiative. The Jamaican team wanted to share the depth of their appreciation to the host families who gave so generously of themselves. They prepared a delicious Jamaican spread with all the favorites included. Yes, ackee and salt fish, jerk chicken and pork, and fried plantain with the usual suspected beverages to wash it down.

The Jamaican Feast being enjoyed

At the end of the meal, the team shared their major take-aways of the past month. Sure, the technical exchange and mentoring were important. However, most important was the personal human investments these families made in them. The idea of opening one’s home to strangers, re-decorating rooms and bending over with gracious gesture to ensure their comfort had universal major impression. The wonderful evening ended with the singing of several Jamaican cultural songs.

Rotary International is powered by people who practice the principle of giving generously. Want to attract abundance in your life? Give of yourself even in tough economic times. Look for a follow up in a few months to see how this giving is bearing fruit.
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