Monday, April 22, 2013

Connecting Across Cultures

Having spent the last few weeks mired in work and overwhelmed by its many demands; demands not isolated from some of the stuff germane to this class... connectivism, use of technology, transliteracy, metaliteracy, global communication and the like, I began to feel a bit guilty and unsure of how to re-engage. I decided that the best way is to use what I have. A lot of what I have been doing involves, seeking out and sharing and using technology to communicate; be it Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools.  So I decided, (in my flummoxed state), that best way is to jump right back in, sharing some of what took me away in the first place. If you are in the business of disseminating news and information, you distribute said information to the various media channels that serves your target audience. 

My natural target is the Caribbean American audience, however if we are true to ourselves about 'connectedness' and operating in a global space; information pertinent to ones ethnic group or the other, should in some way or the other (or for one reason or the next) at the very minimum, inspire some interest. These great United States are a meaty composite of all different races, creed, and ethnic backgrounds. The natural process of assimilation takes place (as it should) for new immigrants. You are in your newly adopted land so adapt you must but as many of us well know, there is the need to hold on to a bit of who you are. And its is real and tangible and present. As a result pretty much every ethnic group has its own unique identity and cultural connection on which to rely.
There are some pertinent questions to be answered: How important it is that we share a bit of who we are with each other? Do we have a moral (might be too strong a word), social responsibilty or civic obligation to show interest in our neighbors? Who they are? What they do? How they lives their lives? Should we all be open to cross-cultural  immersion? 

I have enjoyed reading, learning, experiencing the food, music, art, dance of many a- culture,  as I am sure many have mine (and others too). It is a neat way to look at life, to  open your eyes; see what's around you. There is a lot of beauty there. 

To bring it back home, I will share some of my recent activities as the quest to connect ensues. 

Caribbean Athletes at the Penn Relays

For close to 50 years Jamaican athletes have competed at the now 119 year old Penn Relays. Many of the island's top athletes have graced the track at these relays; names such as Herb McKenley, George Rhoden, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceAsafa Powell and Usain Bolt come to mind. 

Team Jamaica Bickle, a 501 (C) (3) not for profit, offers hospitality services to some 650 athletes and coaches, who attend these annual relays, providing meals, chiropractic  care ground transportation and many more services. The athletes hail largely from Jamaica but the contingent has grown to include such Caribbean counterparts, as Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines.

The organization holds several activities leading up to the relays to raise funds for the program. A signature feature is honoring an Olympian who has gone on to work or contribute on the growth and development side of the sport. The 2013 honoree was Deon Hemmings-McCatty, OD, the first Jamaican and English Speaking Caribbean Woman to win an individual Gold Medal at the Olympic Games; this in 1996.

Now, is this information that the typical non-Jamaican, non-Caribbean, non-sports fan finds interesting? I don't know but I am certainly willing too share, hopefully connect and even more importantly, find out!