I had the opportunity of going to Jamaica in September straight after a trip from Hamburg. While it was tiring doing a back-to-back trip, it was exhilarating.
The moment I landed at Norman Manley International Airport I felt the welcoming of the sunshine, saw the smiles of the people and my soul was being fed with a potpourri of warmth I lack in Europe.
Alma Marta St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS)
It was a very tightly packed few days on the island. The first day saw me driving across the country from Kingston to the South Side where I conducted an assembly at my old Alma Marta, St. Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS.)
At this session, I was able to honour one of the greatest mothers. She was there for me as a parent in absentia and a source of support. Mrs. Johnson, a Home Management Teacher now retired was in attendance and I felt truly blessed.
Being the tough girl I am I didn’t intend to cry, however, the tears came and I didn’t hold them back. The students were touched and I signed whatever objects they could get their hands on.
I am proud to say that I attended this noble institution, it has shaped the woman I am today. I can only hope that I am able to shape the lives of those young women in the way that my teachers shaped mine.
My trip was made complete when the Deputy Head Mrs. Holiness said “If you gave us $200,000 US dollars this morning, it couldn’t equate to that which you imparted to the children this morning. It was invaluable”
Maggotty High School
I swiftly moved on to Maggotty High School where, although a stranger to the students, I was met with warmth.
The lovely Board of Directors Lola Marshall Williams, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Mrs Evans were the first to welcome me.
It was an extremely hot afternoon, yet the students stood and snatched every word from my mouth. They were hungry for the message and even asked for an encore.
This affirmed for me there and then that this was what I wanted to do, I wanted to impact the lives of others, help to shape their destiny and afford them the guidance I never had.
Greater Portmore High in St Catherine
The day ended and I journeyed back to Kingston to prepare for the next day which promised to be just as exciting, but I was now nervous.
My next engagement would not be an audience of high school students but university students, who were keener and even more critical.
My next stop was Greater Portmore High School in St Catherine, I was invited by an Educational Officer who was lovely enough to pick me up and drove me to the school.
The students were lovely, warm and very receptive. I left them with the message of self-belief and perseverance, which I believe is fundamental to achieving any real success.
Honourable Ambassador Burchell Whiteman
I then hurried back to my apartment to change into something more formal for my book reading at the University of Technology, where I would read my book to an audience of lecturers and students.
It was an amazing experience that was heightened by the appearance of the Honourable Ambassador Burchell Whiteman. He was instrumental in helping to fashion the woman I am today and of course, I presented him with a signed copy of my book.
I was introduced to my attentive audience by my very good friend and Godfather of my children Dr Garfield Young who also acted as my host while on the island.
“Profile” Talk Show
That day got even busier as I had a date with Ian Boyne, the host of the prestigious “Profile” talk show.
My mum accompanied me and it was great to see her glow with pride and happiness at how far I had come.
I was pampered and preened in hair and make-up and I must say, when they were done, I did a double take. I didn’t know I could look so good!
The beach seemed a fitting place to rest after two very hectic days, so my mum, my son and I headed to the beach where we chowed down on the very best of Jamaica’s seafood delicacies
I sat there and allowed the waves to massage my tired, worn and weary body.
Meet Up with Nashuman Drummond, Lifestyle Gleaner Editor
The weekend came and things took a slower pace which was truly what I needed. I got a chance to meet up with Nashuman Drummond, Lifestyle Gleaner Editor who did the piece “From mangoes to MBA”.
We chatted about the book and just being back home after such a long time, it was fantastic to finally meet her.
Taking It To Church
Being a Christian, regardless of where I find myself globally, I strive to find a place of worship.
While in Jamaica this is an easy choice to make. Not only was there so much to be thankful for I wanted to mix with my people. I ended up at Fellowship Tabernacle: a church of over 2000 people.
The Reverend Al Miller gave me the opportunity to address his congregation and I was able to speak about my bio.
This was such a special moment as Reverend Miller christened my daughter Chardonae Elizabeth. He was delighted to see how far I had come and this experience reminded me of God's favour and grace in my life.
My Last Stop
Before I knew it, it was almost time to leave, but not before I visited the much-respected University of the West Indies to address the Autobiographical Studies Department.
Lisa Brown the Adjunct lecturer made me feel so welcome and I have taken that with me, as this resonated at each venue I visited. It was delightful.
The students were intrigued and asked many questions. I was most honoured when Professor Carolyn Cooper and my very own cousin, Sharon Brown walked in.
Shortly thereafter, I had to leave for the airport, walking away from my beloved island: from the soil that moulded me.
I know it wasn’t goodbye but see you soon, be good, be well and be safe until we meet again.
Thanks, Jamaica “My passion has been renewed and my drive more than ever inspired”
Until next time.
Ava Brown x