Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie was in Atlanta as the guest speaker at the Jamaica 50th Independence Ball hosted by the Atlanta Jamaica Association on August 18th. The Ambassador arrived in Atlanta on the previous Friday and attended a town hall meeting at the Hillside Presbyterian Church. The Ambassador used the town hall meeting as an opportunity to introduce himself to the Atlanta Jamaica Diaspora and to hear the concerns of the community.
The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the Diaspora to the development of Jamaica and in particular the important role played by high school past student associations. As the past chairman of the Kingston College School board, the Ambassador has firsthand knowledge of the important contributions of the local and overseas chapters of the KC Old Boys Associations. The Ambassador noted these tangible contributions of the past student chapters play an important role in furthering the educational development of Jamaica’s youth.
The attendees also used the opportunity to voice their concerns on various issues. One question posed to the Ambassador raised the issue of Jamaica seeking a pardon from the United States for the Hon. Marcus Garvey. According to the Ambassador, this is a complex issue from a legal and political perspective and Jamaica would have to approach the issue with caution. For instance, seeking a pardon would be tantamount to admitting guilt of Marcus Garvey and that is a position Jamaica would not want to take.
A record number of persons turned out to attend the Jamaica 50th Independence Ball the following night. A strong showing of KC old Boys was also in attendance. More info on the ball can be found elsewhere in this edition of the KC Times.
On Sunday morning, in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, the KCOB Atlanta Chapter with some of our wives had breakfast with the Ambassador. Ambassador Vasciannie related how he was thrust in the middle of diplomatic proceedings as soon as he got to Washington. Although summer is usually a slow period for diplomatic missions in DC, the Julian Assange asylum issue at Ecuador’s Embassy in London and a military coup in Paraguay meant the Ambassador was put to work forthwith. As Chairman of the OAS, the Ambassador had to immediately convene meetings of the OAS to address these issues. So much for a slow summer, Mr. Ambassador.
Ambassador Vasciannie gave us a close-up insight into some of the accomplishments over the past year and some of the hurdles that KC faces. Among the accomplishments are the refurbishing of the chemistry lab (the physics and biology lab will be next), the football field has been resurfaced and fenced, the 6th Form block at Melbourne was refurbished, the Pavilion was refurbished courtesy of the young Fortis Pavilion, and the basketball court was resurfaced thanks to the Rujohn Association.
Among the challenges are the disrepair of Hardy House and the vacancy of a headmaster. Hardy House is a National Historic site but there is no funds allocated for repairs to the site. Also, any repairs to the site must meet the original specifications of the building and getting approval from the authorities for repairs is dogged with bureaucracy. The vacancy of the headmaster appears to be resolved. From all indications, a candidate has been finalized and an announcement will be made soon.
All Fortisans should be proud that we have another KC alum as ambassador in Washington. It was a pleasure having breakfast with the Ambassador. We look forward to continued dialogue with him in building on the work of the Diaspora’s contribution to Jamaica and the work that the Old Boys do in support of KC.