The excitement of the recipients of the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright internships resounded at the media launch of the 2016 GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme held on July 11, 2016. Intrigued at the prospect of living and working in Jamaica, the interns gathered at GraceKennedy Limited’s Headquarters to meet -the GraceKennedy family, along with corporate and government sponsors, at the start of their cultural and professional programme. GraceKennedy’s Group CEO Senator Don Wehby, said he was pleased to be welcoming the 2016 cohort. “The goal of the programme is to connect bright and talented young people to their roots, improving their knowledge of their Jamaican heritage and give them a more complete sense of self,” he said.
The one-month internship is offered annually to students in the diaspora who have never lived in Jamaica. The programme is designed to give them a well-rounded experience of Jamaica as they work in a GraceKennedy subsidiary linked to their field of study and participate in cultural activities on the weekends.
Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, the guest speaker at the event, lauded GraceKennedy Limited for conceptualizing and implementing the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright programme. “This Birthright Programme epitomizes the ‘We Care’ philosophy of GraceKennedy. It is yet another initiative that demonstrates the Company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, not only in Jamaica, but in the jurisdictions in which GraceKennedy is established – the Diaspora locations of the UK, USA and Canada, in this context,” she stated.
The four interns, Kimberly Ann Stephenson, Casey Daley, Natasha Allen and Karis Edwards, are all eager to embrace their heritage. “To me, being Jamaican far surpasses an identity. It is a living spirit that reflects community, kinship, and a country that is rich in culture. I applied for the GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme to embrace this spirit,” stated Stephenson.
GraceKennedy provides the interns with airfare, housing, transportation and a stipend for the duration of their internship. Executive Director of the Birthright Programme, Caroline Mahfood, in expressing her confidence in the selected interns stated, “We have chosen four exceptional young people this year who we believe will be remarkable ambassadors for not only GraceKennedy, but for Jamaica on a whole. We are indeed thrilled by the outpouring of support from the Diaspora and our local partners.”
Main sponsors of the GraceKennedy Birthright programme include: Jakes Hotel and Spa, FLOW Jamaica, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Grace Foods, Hi-Lo Food Stores and the Jamaica Cultural Development Centre (JCDC). Other sponsors include major tourist attraction companies. Further information on the Birthright programme can be obtained at www.gracekennedy.com/birthright.