Thinking back on it now my first work related experience was rather humorous, at the same time it was a totally new and eye opening experience for me. Sweating profusely upon arrival, and well throughout the night, I woke up a little disoriented. A volunteer from my organization, who is also a high school agriculture teacher, was to pick me up in the morning and we were to head to the office for the first time. Upon his arrival at my residence, I noticed that he was in formal dress. I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt (trying to wear as little as possible given the heat). I asked if I should put something dressier on. He responded nonchalantly “No no that’s fine”. To my surprise, we didn’t end up heading to the office but to a meeting held by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at the Community College, which happens quarterly. For more information on the mandate of IICA in St. Vincent & the Grenadines please visit: http://www.iica.int/Eng/regiones/caribe/ECS/Pages/producerorganizations.aspx
When I entered the meeting, I noticed most people were wearing ties and suits and others were wearing business casual attire.
I felt a little bit underdressed, embarrassed and somewhat bewildered; the How I Met Your Mother phrase “Suit UP!” echoing in mind.
There were approximately fifteen people attending the meeting, delegates ranging from heads of the colleges, college teachers, schoolteachers, farmers, and workers from ministry of agriculture among others. Part of the mandate of the IICA is to promote youth participation in agriculture. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to successfully guide agriculture students into entrepreneurship as well as creating a student cohort, which would produce businesses and employment. A new program is being designed for agriculture at the community college and this meeting was about brainstorming what should be included in the program and infrastructure that would be required beyond the program. It is important to realize that in the very recent past agriculture was directly associated with slavery. It’s an obstacle to break the mental psyche of colonial indoctrination and the slavish mentality that has been implanted in minds. Students who do not excel academically, often times, are the ones who end up in agriculture and even then are regarded as societal dropouts. There was a general consensus that agriculture must be introduced into the primary and secondary school levels to help overcome this mentality. The meeting was fascinating, as the perspectives of many stakeholders were shared as well as new linkages and partnerships formed. I enjoyed the enthusiasm and passion; it was like no other meeting I had been to before.
Here are some media articles related to my program and experience.