In 1992, then general manager of Sans Souci Lido, Joe Issa, met Dr. Beverly DeMott, principal of Broward Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, where a cultural exchange programme involving teachers and students from Jamaica and the United States was discussed.
From that meeting came the birth of a twinning project and by late 1992, Broward Elementary School in Florida and Sheffield All-Age in Negril were twinned.
Today, the project has expanded and now includes two St. Mary School, Three Hills all-Age and Retreat Primary and Junior High.
“This project has really taken off and might easily be one of the best in the island,” said Mr. Issa.
“It has been voted the ‘most promising multi-cultural programme’ by the Florida State Board of Education and students and teachers from both Jamaica and the United States have benefited tremendously from the programme.”
According to reports, so far nearly one hundred teachers have visited from the US and have contributed immensely to the participating schools. Classrooms have been refurbished, film-strip projectors for audio visual learning have been provided, kitchens built to enable children to eat hot meals and libraries have been stocked with children’s books and teaching
According to Dr. DeMott, the friendships between students from both countries not only transcend cultural boundaries, but can be life-long and fulfilling.
“These friendships motivate children to think globally and act locally,” Dr. DeMott emphasised.
Vernett Byfield, a teacher at Retreat Primary, commended Mr. Issa for the programme’s inception, but lamented that Jamaican teachers and students have not yet been able to visit the schools in the United States.
“It has been great having the United States teachers here,” said Ms. Byfield.
“They have done so much for my school and through that we could go to the United States to get some of their experience.”
Source: The Gleaner