Sat | Aug 19, 2017

GraceKennedy Connects Birthright Interns To Their Roots

Published:Friday | July 10, 2015 | 7:00 AMKeisha Hill
From left: Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr of the GraceKennedy board of directors; Ukpong Etang, a third-year student of John Molson School Business at Concordia University; Jamila Turner-Dell'Acqua, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in dance; Danikquia Starks, a graduate of the University of Maryland; Janae Bell, who attends Harvard University; and Don Wehby, Group CEO,GraceKennedy, listen to Douglas Orane, group chairman, at the launch of the GraceKennedy 2015 Birthright Intern Programme, geared towards reconnecting second-and third-generation Jamaicans residing overseas to their Jamaica heritage, on Monday at the company's office in Kingston.

After a six-year hiatus, the GraceKennedy (GK) Group has relaunched its Jamaican Birthright Programme, welcoming four interns from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) to the island for the opportunity to reconnect with their Jamaican roots in five weeks.

The participants, Janae Bell, Danikquia 'Kira' Starks, Jamila Turner Dell'Acqua and Ukpong Etang, will not only be working at GraceKennedy, but will also have the opportunity to experience Jamaica's culture through trips and visits to cultural spots, as well as select Jamaican hotels.

First-year Harvard University student Janae Bell is fascinated with Jamaica's rich culture, and when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to apply for the internship. Her grandparents are Jamaicans who migrated to the United States in the late 1960s, and although she has visited Jamaica a few times, she is looking forward to the experience and learning more about her Jamaican heritage.

Bell is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and psychology and hopes to motivate young people to be their best physically, professionally, and spiritually. Bell will work in GraceKennedy's Investment/Administration Department.

well-rounded experience

GraceKenendy's Birthright Programme aims to highlight all aspects of Jamaican life while furthering the career goals of the participants. It is designed to give successful second- and third-generation students a well-rounded Jamaican experience and at the end of the programme, the participants will make the transition from 'intern' to 'ambassador'.

The lone participant from the UK, Jamila Turner-Dell'Acqua, recently completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance: urban practice and special education. Born in the United Kingdom to Italian and Jamaican parents, Turner-Dell'Acqua has visited Jamaica on occasions, however, she is excited about participating in her professional role.

"Working in the UK and in Jamaica will be a very different experience. It is an amazing opportunity to be chosen for an internship abroad and outside of my culture. I want to be a teacher, and here I will be given the chance to interact with children here in Jamaica, and I think it will be fascinating working with children from another culture," Turner-Dell'Acqua said.

Turner-Dell'Acqua will be working at GraceKennedy's community outreach arm, the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation.

Danikquia 'Kira' Starks completed her Bachelor's of Arts in political science in May of this year. Both her parents are Jamaicans, however, she has only visited Jamaica once. She is looking forward to reconnecting with her roots and enjoying what the internship has to offer. She will be interning at GraceKennedy Remittance Services Ltd.

The only male intern, Ukpong Etang, is from Montreal, Canada and is currently in his third year of studying marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. Though his mother is Jamaican, this is his first visit to Jamaica. Etang is eager to participate in the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme for his own personal and professional development and will be interning at GK General Insurance Company.

During their internship, the participants will tour several GraceKennedy locations and visit several places of interest. Sponsors are Sandals International, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, Appleton Rum Tour, Chukka Tours, Dolphin Cove, Tuff Gong, Digicel Jamaica and Hi-Lo Food Stores Division.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com