“How do you live in a place like Jamaica, which is all about green – and blue – and not be leaders in environmental consciousness? For us to have been leaders we would have to have had a different education. We needed to say: ‘Take a look around us, this is what we’ve got, we’ve got to conserve it.’ We don’t need overseas organizations to tell us that! It’s right here.”Dr. Anne C. Bailey, Professor of History, State University of New York (SUNY), Binghamton
So said Jamaican American historian, writer and environmental activist Dr. Anne C. Bailey during a conversation we had – back in August 2019, now. Dr. Bailey is the author of The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History (Cambridge University Press, 2017). This time, she was talking “green” and critical thinking in education. Dr. Bailey has also contributed to the New York Times’ momentous 1619 Project – recognizing the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ship in Virginia. You can read her blog here.
Speaking of green (education, the environment) there is Green Team International (GTI), founded by Dr. Bailey in 2013 as an offshoot (literally) of the St. Mary’s Peace Farm and Park, an eco-tourism venture in Jack’s River. I should add that Dr. Bailey’s family migrated to the United States when she was twelve years old, but she has maintained strong family and social links with Jamaica; I first met her when she was conducting research as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. The Green Team vision is one of self-reliance, resilience, and environmental protection. Dr. Bailey’s fellow Board Members are Hilary Robertson Hickling, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Mona School of Business and Management, UWI; and Dr. Bernice Jacqueline deGannes-Scott, Associate Professor of Economics at Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Bailey is enthusiastic about the six young people sponsored by GTI – the new Green Team International Scholars: “Green Team International, now in its eight year of operation, is so proud to invest in these college-bound young people. If they represent the future, the future is bright. We have our challenges in Jamaica and in the rest of the African Diaspora, but we believe that we have to focus on the positive things that our young people have to offer. They are our greatest resource!”
So, let me introduce you to the Scholars, in no particular order (note: the scholarship is open to anyone in the African Diaspora). As Dr. Bailey points out, all are already reaching out, helping, guiding and mentoring other young people. She is very proud of them.
Richard Williams is a second year student in the Campion College Sixth Form program, where he currently studies Biology, Chemistry, Economics, and Caribbean Studies. His goal is to venture into cosmetic dentistry or dental surgery. He is passionate about environmental activism and hopes to implement an environmental program in his own community.
Judine Bailey [no relation to Dr. Bailey] grew up in August Town, St. Andrew, and received her undergraduate degree at UWI, Mona. She is beginning graduate studies at Medicine Hat University in Alberta, Canada, this month. Judine was a mentee of Drs. Fred and Hilary Hickling at the Caribbean Institute of Mental Health and Drug Abuse at UWI. Her area of focus is Business Administration and one of her main long term goals is to create a franchise company. She also plans to establish an NGO focusing on the empowerment and training of underserved people in her community – including women and girls who have been victims of heinous crimes. Judine was the first person in her family to attend university.
Sheri-Anne Vaughans, who is originally from St. Vincent, is a first semester Master’s student at Howard University, where she is studying Economics. Her first degree was in Economics at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She hopes to become an economic research analyst. She is passionate about young people and their development and her long-term goal is to develop a mentorship program for underserved youth. Sheri-Anne is already mentoring young people in her St. Vincent community.
Ashe-Lee Henry is a past student of Guy’s Hill High School. She is passionate about visual arts and aspires to teach visual arts, to inspire marginalized children to rise above their challenges and to encourage them to become beautiful adults who inspire nations. Ashe-Lee will attend The Mico University College in September 2021 to major in Visual Arts. Ashe-lee is the first in her family to attend college.
Shanique Hunter hails from the parish of St. Mary. She attends the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland, where she is currently pursuing an Associate Degree and an Associate Teaching Science Degree, both in Agro-Food Processing. Her studies have enabled her to obtain the knowledge to teach her peers about the benefits of agriculture. Her goal is to become a specialist in Agriculture and Agricultural Entrepreneurship. Shanique is an alumna of Green Team programs and the first in her family to attend college.
Sangita Foote is originally from Arnett Gardens, Kingston, and is a children’s author and creative artist. She is also the Administrative Assistant at Green Team International. Sangita seeks to partner with entities focused on providing holistic approaches to resolve issues such as education, community development, health, the environment, and unemployment. She aims to empower and equip the disenfranchised in rural and urban inner-city communities in Jamaica and to help dismantle cycles of poverty, financial instability and hopelessness. She will begin a BA in Community Development at the International University of the Caribbean in January 2021.
Dr. Bailey is equally proud of Jack’s River Primary School, Green Team’s community partners; in particular, the school Principal Mr. Maxwell Wilson and his great team of teachers. With the NGO’s assistance, for much of 2020, they have been volunteering their time and effort to provide COVID-19 CARE food packages monthly to students and their families. Dr. Bailey says:
“This is the kind of transatlantic Diaspora cooperation that makes a difference on the ground. When the school is fully on stream again after COVID, we look forward to working with the school and the students in rebuilding the school garden, which provides lunch to the cafeteria and to enhancing the Wangari Maathai Environmental Computer Resource Center that we developed in 2018.”
Note: Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize.
Green Team Board member Hilary Robertson Hickling added her thoughts: “In awarding these scholarships Green Team International is signaling a commitment to the development of the next generation of leaders. Whether they are environmentalists of dentists or economists in the making, they have demonstrated a commitment to using their skills to improve the world. They are mainly first generation university students who have risen above adversity and are succeeding despite the odds.”
History, memory, leadership, mentorship, education, going back to nature, back to the basics; these are things the Green Team hold dear. Perhaps most of all, the Green Team is about hope and promise for the future.