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Working with our young people

Published: Sep 12, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Thank you for a little space in your paper to respond to a letter that appeared in it on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 written by one “Don Dames”. The letter accused me of contributing to brain drain by having the high school graduates in my Bahamas Institute for Youth Leadership Development (BIYLD) Programme visit Atlanta, Georgia and visiting companies there. The writer said he was disappointed that I went to such lengths to expose Bahamian students to opportunities in another country.

If Dames had bothered to do just a little research, he would have known that my program, running for three years now, has three exposure visits. The first visit is to New Providence where students get to visit such companies as RBC, Templeton Global Advisors, Pictet Bank and Trust, Colina, Bamboo Shack, Atlantis, etc. The New Providence visit this year took place February 22-24. We do this, as stated in our description of the program, so that the students can appreciate why Nassau is the economic center of the country. Incidentally, as a result of the Nassau visit, a number of students found a career choice and received summer internships.

The second visit is a corporate tour of Grand Bahama, the island on which the program is located. During this visit, the students visit such businesses as the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Polymers International, BORCO, the Grand Bahama Power Company, the Freeport Container Port, etc. This year’s Grand Bahama visit took place June 14-15. This visit exposes them to opportunities right in their home island. What has been clear about the Grand Bahama visits is that many students had no idea how many different career choices the island offers.

The final visit is to Atlanta, which is intended to help them appreciate the global nature of the world in which they operate. During the visits in Grand Bahama and Atlanta, they visit colleges – in the case of Grand Bahama, The College of The Bahamas; in the case of Atlanta, they visited Clarke-Atlanta, Morehouse and Georgia Tech universities.

The Bahamas Institute for Youth Leadership Development is a 10-month program, and I am with the students the entire time. We seek to develop the leadership skills of the students, exposing them to Bahamian professionals through seminars and the corporate visits I mentioned. If this is contributing to brain drain, then let the brain drain happen. I imagine that if Dames has children, he must keep them from watching television, going on the Internet or visiting the U.S. or any other country because he is afraid that they will expose themselves to opportunities in other countries and not want to live at home.

Brain drain does not happen because children are exposed to opportunities in other countries; it happens when there are no opportunities at home compared to other countries. That is why we need to develop the leadership skills of our young people, so that they can seize more opportunities that exist at home and develop some of their own. And yes, if the world offers them opportunities, they can seize those too.

BIYLD encourages its young people to love their nation and to see its place in the global community, which means that they can operate in The Bahamas, from within The Bahamas or from anywhere in the world their gifts and talents take them. It is the visionless who try to isolate children from the world so that the farthest they can see is right in front of their noses.

If Don Dames, if that is his real name, wants to know more about the program, he is welcome to go to my website at www.zlaingconsulting.com and look up the BIYLD program. What is surprising is that Dames had to read about the program in a foreign source when it has been published about in the local media. At a time when so many are shocked at the level of crime and violence in our nation and the fact that young people are the ones largely responsible, it is so disappointing to have to spend time rebuffing something positive that we are doing when a little bit of inquiry could have avoided the same.

– Zhivargo Laing

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