CARICOM needs leaders, but they are short supply.
This was the message drummed home to close to 60 young people this afternoon by Barbados’ CARICOM Ambassador, Robert “Bobby” Morris during a briefing in the Ministry of Education Conference Room.
The youth are a part of the United Youth Leaders of Barbados’ Youth Leadership Retreat which began this evening and runs until December 30.
“The development of what I call cadres of leadership, groups of leaders, is of the highest priority for our region. We need to develop leaders. We have them in short supply,” he said in opening remarks to the young people.
Morris noted that in the Caribbean, leaders were often seen as politicians, but pointed out that teachers and other who served to guide and direct were also leaders.
Examining the different traits and characteristics of leaders, he told the group which will be bonding at Marion Retreat House for the next few days, that they were the future leaders of not only Barbados, but the region.
Telling them of his experience eating a foreign canned fish, a technique he acknowledged could be taken up and adapted for the flying fish or any other Caribbean product by an enterprising young person, he added: “There is really a lot going for you in terms of opportunities to become leaders, and I am really looking for your generation, which is my grandchildren’s generation generally speaking, to be able to do some of these things.”
As youth in today’s society, they were no longer tied to one country but had more opportunities to travel and work within CARICOM, Morris said; and as such they should feel free to explore job opportunities in some of the other islands.
He told the young people that come next year, as ambassador he and others in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be going into the secondary schools in particular to educate more students about CARICOM.
Other than students of Social Studies where matters of CARICOM and regional integration were a part of the syllabus, he said there might be some that did not get as much exposure to these issues and those were young people they had to reach.
As graduates of the retreat once it ends in three days, Morris said he was hoping that some of them would be so charged to become leaders that they would take part in upcoming initiatives like CARICOM Day, where he said plans were already afoot to have a major event in Barbados, involving national organisations from member states.
Head of UYLB, Christaneisha Soleyn said too that they were forming partnerships with foreign universities like York University, where one member was soon to go off on a fellowship programme. She said she hoped next year that more young people could get the opportunity as well.
The retreat is themed, Making Your Mark, and Soleyn said the 60 young people between 14 and 20 years old would spend the time in workshops and other sessions focused on building their leadership potential.
She explained that the students were selected by guidance counsellors, but they had asked schools, both public and private, to send students with leadership potential, who might be straying a bit from the right path and need the additional guidance and support. (LB)