Jamaican student Aubrey Stewart doesn’t like what he sees when he scans his country’s political landscape.
The aspiring politician admits the Caribbean country is in a bit of a crisis and says innovative ideas are needed to fix the problems.
The Cornwall College student was one of 10 Jamaicans in Toronto last week sharpening their leadership skills at the annual Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP) for high schoolers at York University.
“We need solutions in Jamaica and I certainly think I can make a difference,” said a confident Stewart who is the president of his school’s Red Cross Society and a house captain. “But before I get there, I need to equip myself with the tools and that’s why I am so happy to be here taking part in this global initiative.
“I certainly consider myself a participative rather than a permissive leader and I am looking forward to this experience to interact with students from other countries and learn from some of the best minds who are going to impart their knowledge on us.”
Stewart comes from a high school that has produced outstanding Jamaican leaders. They include the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Kenneth Baugh and the late Dr. Rex Nettleford and Canadian-based ophthalmologist and humanitarian Dr. Garth Taylor.
The EGLP is a two-and-a-half day all-expenses paid workshop initiative for 50 of the most dynamic, energetic and visionary high school students from Ontario and the Caribbean.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for young leaders like me to learn how to go about finding workable solutions to problems,” said Ardenne High School student council secretary Kevonnie Whyte who won a government scholarship four years ago after graduating from Hagley Park Preparatory School. She aspires to be either a chemical engineer or a cosmetic chemist.
The other Jamaican high school participants were Kimmara Coombs and Shereese Graham (Morant Bay), Hakeem Fuller and Marvin Jackson (Excelsior), Kachieve Dale (Knox College), Chantelle Richardson (Clarendon College), Andre St. Marie (Kingston College) and Craig Thomas (Calabar). Jennifer Jarrett of Calabar was the chaperone.
A total of 49 students, including seven from the Alexandra School in Barbados and representatives from 20 Canadian high schools, also participated in the program that offers young people an opportunity to explore critical concepts and skills in successful leadership in Canadian and international contexts with special emphasis on cross-cultural communication and team building.
The program also helps students grasp an understanding of the most important concepts in career planning and reflect on their strengths and areas of growth.
The Canadian Bureau of International Education recognized the program eight years ago with the Outstanding Program in International Education award.