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Maurice Christie | Antisocial Jamaicans threaten US Cultural Exchange Programme

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMMaurice Christie

Last year, my son returned from the Cultural Exchange Programme under which he was able to work during the summer in the United States. So impressed was his boss that they begged him to return and also asked for five more Jamaicans like him.

My son's impression on his boss was as a result of the values we pushed on him. As working-class/working-middle-class people, we gave him the values our family in St Ann instilled in us. Unfortunately, many youth - and many Jamaicans at large - despite their educational status - have lost good values and operate each day with indecency, a lack of respect for others, false personality, pomposity, and the propensity to explode into self-destruction.

The recent article by The Gleaner's Ryon Jones that the Cultural Exchange Programme sponsor CCI will slash the Jamaican quota by 50 per cent was expected. The writing was on the wall. Their behaviour, lack of respect for authority, poor time management, and rowdy behaviour have resulted in the programme now biased towards China and Thailand. It is the same ol', same ol'. Black people are self-destructive. Last summer, five students from the Mico and UTech were caught shoplifting in North Florida. The CCTV captured these students who disgraced our island, and the local media made a killing by circulating the news. To make matters worse, the students had shoplifted simple things that would have cost them just a few US dollars if they had only spent from their pockets.




The behaviour of many students, according to the CCI, is atrocious. They believe everywhere they go, it is a carnival atmosphere. They forgot that they are in a country of principles, rules and regulations. Our students carry this Ring Road carnival psyche, forgetting that when you go to Rome, you do as the Romans do. Many of us are offended when white folks complain that black people are too loud. We need to understand the culture of others and respect their space and their need for silence and solitude.

To those who advocate dances and loud noise being part of 'yaad' culture and cultural practices, they need to realise that they, as role models, are flawed, as the US is a serious country about production. Our students are saturated by too much entertainment packaged as culture, and it robs us of productive hours and output.

The CCI has complained about the focus of students. We are cognisant that students want to optimise their earnings of US dollars, but they should remember that the programme is not one of earning dollars but in which students travel to share and enjoy the culture of others. But greed and selfishness have pushed many to even abandon their sponsors and original employer in the middle of the summer.

I have heard from close family members how some students have abandoned their jobs near returning to Jamaica, creating disfavour towards prospective Jamaican applicants. This is not a fairy tale, it is a fact. A student I know who is a dedicated employee had time on weekends and wanted a second job. He could not get it because many of those who went in 2012-2014 to those stores in the US North-east abandoned their jobs before the end of their contract.




Simple conduct of oneself to demonstrate good social skills are lacking. Students demonstrated greed at socials and other events as they ate and drank voraciously, without thinking of others. Food and drinks are consumed repeatedly in front of directors of the businesses which sponsored them, as they have no respect for others needing to be served.

Tact and diplomacy are deficient, as these tertiary students, especially those from teachers' colleges, behave like pigs at times. It is a whole mix of violations, bad behaviour, disrespect, demonstration of poor family life, and lack of values and morals that the CCI has been observing. So now, the sponsors have agreed to act. Enough is enough, and students will be impeded come 2017.

At the outset, these cultural programmes had very little negative feedback. The reviews were good, as students, in those days, were intrigued by travelling and experiencing the largesse of the cosmopolitan countries.

Times have changed since the 1990s, and perhaps because of the hard economic realities, coupled with the significant fall in values in the society and the poor examples set by our political, social and business leaders, students have mimicked everything negative.

We hope the next batch of students will realise that conforming to rules and regulations is part of a civil society and is important to good relationships among all stakeholders in a cultural exchange programme.

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