In its second staging, the Harrison College – Campion College student exchange programme has been successful in fostering regional integration, improving student achievement levels, and the exchange of different teaching methodologies that allows students to identify, reflect on and strengthen their individual learning styles.
Twenty-two Campion College students were afforded the opportunity to spend a week on Bajan soil after arriving on January 25.
The partnership was established, after Juanita Wade, principal of Harrison College, passionately expressed her desire to collaborate with Jamaican schools to support their objective of producing more “regionally aware citizens”, said Grace Baston, principal of Campion College, who spoke with The Gleaner on Friday.
“The way she proposed it was very interesting to us. We were right away, wanting to do it,” Baston expressed.
The partnership began in October 2022 when 20 sixth-form students from Harrison College along with Wade, a teacher and a guidance counsellor visited Campion College in Kingston for one week. The students immersed themselves in life at Campion by participating in a variety of campus activities before going on excursions to places like the National Art Gallery, The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Port Antonio, and Dunn’s River Falls.
“The recurring theme, that you hear the children talking about is how much they’ve learnt, how much they’ve grown, how deeper is their sense of being Caribbean people,” she said of her students.
Compared to Jamaican students, who tended to relate to Americans more frequently and easily, Bajans appeared to have a stronger sense of identity, she noted.
In a recent interview with The Gleaner, Carl Applewhaite, year head of the sixth form at Harrison College in Bridgetown, Barbados, stated that the students’ experience in the programme was an “enlightening” one.
The programme’s goal this year was to increase access to knowledge and values disseminated through digital media. He also mentioned that increased migration is one of the factors affecting our current way of life and has shaped our future global identity.
“Therefore, in an era where globalisation threatens our Caribbean identity, we acknowledge the fact that we are stronger together, and cannot continue to facilitate the geo-psychological fragmentation that currently exists. We must counteract this fragmentation and meet each other in their respective spaces,” he said.
He continued that in an effort to strengthen regional identity, it was necessary that “we first seek to embrace our own, and that of our regional counterparts”.
“Indeed, it is ironic that many of the students who participated in the student exchange did not visit any regional territory prior to the exchange. Therefore, this exchange seeks to emphasise to the youth that many hands make light work, and the more persons that are involved in the pursuit of regional integration, the more incumbent it would be for the political directorate to enact that which the society demands,” said Applewhaite.
The contingent engaged in visits to the various campuses of The University of the West Indies, tours of historical sites such as Harrison’s Cave and a visit to the House of Parliament, and St Nicholas Abbey.
The students also participated in student-led summits where they discussed the issues that the region is currently facing while identifying local solutions to these challenges.
Among the topics discussed was the orange economy which is often referred to as the cultural or creative industry. The students also engaged in dialogue on the development of the curriculum to incorporate financial literacy, the sustainability of tourism, and the effects of crime and deviance on Caribbean economies and society.
Baston lauded the ‘Harristonians’ and ‘Campionites’ contributions to a successful summit and indicated how surprised she and her students were to see Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, in attendance, speaking with “the future generation of the Caribbean”.
“One of the things Prime Minister Mottley shared was the dream she had that we should commit as a region to having every single Caribbean child visit another Caribbean Island as part of their high school experience.”
Baston said that the Campion community felt the experience was worthwhile as it fits into the school’s mission and vision of producing students who are globally and yet regionally aware. She said that the institution was committed to finding the means to make sure that the exchange programme continue.
The trip was financed by parents of the students who attended. Fund-raising activities were also carried out to help with the expense and the school provided support to those pupils who needed it in order to attend.
Applewhaite told The Gleaner that the final day of the exchange programme when he saw tearful youngsters realising the experience was coming to a close, was his fondest memory.
This was because it revealed that successful bonds were formed, and a greater understanding of each other’s culture was established.
“This could not have been achieved without both countries experiencing the other. Stereotypes, misconceptions and misunderstandings were dismantled; each student saw another human being, just like him or herself, living in a limited space with similar struggles and common goals,” he said.
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