Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jamaica Day 2

For once my travels had landed me in a place in the time zone in which I live. I woke up about 6 AM to bright sunshine. I grabbed my swim suit and headed out to the beach. I walked all along the beach, only just getting my feet wet in the ocean. Then back to my room for a quick shower and then down to breakfast.

I didn't know what to expect for breakfast in Jamaica, but found the buffet very large. It is obviously designed for tourists. I could have easily made myself a Polish breakfast, for example. The breakfast above is very American -- scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit, and French Toast. The only unique thing is that I found cranberry butter to put on the French Toast. Overall, I found this hotel, at least, serves cranberry things more often than I find in the states. For example, the selection of juices included varieties one might expect -- orange, pineapple, apple -- being Jamaica also mango, but also cranberry.

The conference did not begin until lunch time, so I had the morning to relax. I took my Kindle out to the terrace and enjoyed relaxing there with a great view.

Then off to the opening luncheon. The professor, Beverly from Simmons College joined me at a table and took the picture below.

I am shown seated with Dr. Gary Silverman, University of North Carolina- Charlotte. He has done Fulbrights in both Malaysia and Costa Rica.

Luncheon included two new foods for me. The first was pumpkin soup, very light flavor and color, nothing like what one might see in pumpkin used for pumpkin pies in the United States. The second treat was guava pudding for dessert. I know I've never before guava like that before. Also, in a country that produces some the finest coffee in the world, I am amazed at how hard it is to find a cup of coffee. Coffee is not available at session breaks, nor is it served with luncheon such as we had. 

One speaker at the luncheon was U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater.

My new colleague, Beverly, was excited to see Ambassador Bridgewater. Beverly had done a Fulbright in Ghana at the time Ambassador Bridgewater was stationed there.

We were also treated to a message from the Minister of Health in Jamaica. This message was read to us for the Minister was then in Europe at the World Health Organization meeting. In looking at my notes, I found one important take-away message, presented as a story:

Two apples were looking down at the world, noticing and commenting on all the violence. One apple said to the other, "Soon there will be nothing left in this world, but we two apples." The other apple replied, "But will it be me, the red apple, or you, the green apple?" The Minister's continuing message was that we need to stop seeing differences, and start to work together in unity.

The afternoon sessions began with a look at health status after Jamaicans immigrate to the United States. This work confirmed a trend that I already know: health declines as immigrates spend time in the United States. Probably much to the surprise of those who have never set foot outside of the U.S, -- we have some very unhealthy health and cultural practices in the U.S., largely centered around food and activity practices.

The obesity problem was demonstrated in the hotel gift shop. I'm not exactly a small person, but had difficulty finding a T-shirt small enough for me. There were no small sizes, but there was plenty of selection in XXL -- and looking about the lobby I could see why that size needed to be stocked in the hotel gift shop.

The second session concerned how the University of West Indies staff are using all kinds of social media strategies to deliver answers to health questions from students.

I went to Fresh, the buffet restaurant again for dinner. Here I had the chance to speak more with Catherine Zeman, University of Northern Iowa. She did a Fulbright in Romania and for nine years now has taken students to Romania for a joint class with Romanian students and work in a Roma village. Since I've now been in Romania three times, we had a lot to talk about.

I also spent some time with Dr. Paul Brown from the University of West Indies. He did a Fulbright here in Minnesota and will be returning for about six weeks in September.

To my delight the evening show was a kettle drum band. I had never seen this "for real" before. I was amazed at the music that came out of the drums.  I was expected only percussion sounds.

Loved the show. And the weather was perfect. During the afternoon a storm blew in again, but we missed it all while in sessions. In the evening the temperature appeared to be in the low 80s with a gentle wind. Perfect!

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