Touch of Jamaican warmth in New York
Seven students and two teachers from Ardenne High School were recently in New York City to participate in the 2017 World Federation of United Nations Associations (UFUNA) conference.
In addition to the United Nations activities, Ardenne High students also had an opportunity to visit the American Museum of Natural History and spend a day at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, the oldest public high school in that borough.
The students from both schools thoroughly enjoyed the interactions. Students from both the schools shared their experiences with Arts and Education.
The visit was facilitated by the principals of Boys and Girls High and Ardenne High, Grecian Harrison and Nadine Molloy, respectively, and science master at Boys and Girls, Horace Lynch, who is a past student of Ardenne High School.
A day with students from Ardenne High School
Last week, we at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York were blown away by the opportunity to meet a number of visiting students from Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica. Meeting the teenagers gave us a quick view and an insight about how they live their lives in a foreign country.
They had scholarly attributes and they showed pride, dignity and strength in their country, and most importantly their education. Even though I only spoke to one of many, Sarah, my friends and I were shocked because we thought they were going to have these heavy accents and the school system was going to be much different. When Sarah told Amir, Darwin, Armani and I about the Jamaican education system, the parties, the lifestyle and all-year warm weather, we made the connection between all of those and understood why the students were so happy about their identity and heritage.
It was fun learning about the school life of these teenagers, the numerous clubs they participate in and the numerous school societies that they enjoy, whether it is the Drama Club, the Math Club, sports competitions, Quiz Club, or the various spelling bees.
We really enjoyed the images they showed us of their campus and the surrounding area. I was impressed because as an American 'non-traveller' I had a biased image that was in my head coming into the library. For some reason, I assumed that they lived in this chaotic environment that is constantly viewed as violent and where the chance of a good education is slim.
We were surprised to learn that the Jamaican teenagers from Ardenne do the same things that we do, they listen to the same music as we do, and they are just as curious as we are. Meeting the highly motivated teens was a great experience that inspired us, and it tells us that it's not where you come from that matters, but where you want to go in life.
- Jayson Andrews is Grade 11 student and Armani Stewart-Torres is a Grade 9 student of Boys and Girls High School, Brooklyn, New York
"Wherever we travel to, the wonderful people we meet become our friends." This quote encapsulates the feeling the seven of us from Ardenne have towards the students of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn.
The experience of visiting such an institution facilitated a period of enlightenment and great cultural exchange for all of us. Being greeted with welcoming smiles from the school's administrative body and students provided us with much needed warmth in the cold winter weather in New York City.
The proceedings of the visit included greetings from the principal of Boys and Girls, Grecian Harrison. After the formalities, we were taken to their library. The librarian gave us an excellent overview of the school's rich history and culture; their history came to life as the walls shouted the school's legacy of excellence through artwork and poetry.
Among their illustrious graduates is Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress, and the first African-American candidate for a major party's nomination for president of the United States.
We then had lunch with students from Boys, and Girls and during this session, the Ardenne delegation explained aspects of the Jamaican way of life to a group of very exuberant and interested students of Boys and Girls High. We also asked them about various aspects of their lives - for example, how they enjoy their school, and their experiences living in New York.
Initially, we thought it would have been somewhat difficult to converse with students from different backgrounds, but this was most definitely not the case. We easily formed friendships as we were not treated as just guests, but as cousins returning for a much-deserved family reunion. After lunch, we had an informative question-and-answer session about Ardenne High School, led by our principal, Miss Nadine Molloy, and faculty adviser, Kamika Mc Kellop. This was enjoyed by the students of Boys and Girls High as they looked on with much interest. They voiced many questions relating to our academic lives in Jamaica, and we shared tips on being disciplined and well-rounded students.
We told them about us celebrating our 90th anniversary this year, our extraordinarily vibrant co-curricular activities, and elaborated on many of our recent achievements as a unified school, including being named CAPE School of the Year for the Caribbean. Our favourite part of this experience was being invited to attend a basketball match between Boys and Girls High and Westinghouse High School. We took the opportunity to cheer our host team on with some of our spirited and resonant Jamaican cheers which seemed to motivate the basketballers greatly to the point that other students enthusiastically joined in. The Jamaican cheers worked. Boys and Girls High won the match!
We clearly saw that despite being from different backgrounds, we share common interests, not only as teenagers, but as pioneers for global change, cultural relativity, and unity, throughout the day. The experience was one that led to our growth and understanding of diversity. We admire the strong esprit de corps that the Boys and Girls High School students possesses, and we certainly look forward to more exchanges like this between Ardenne and other institutions of distinction around the world. It was truly an exceptional experience.
- Sarah Lee Tucker, Grade 12 student of Ardenne High School