It was a wonderful two days of celebration, entertainment, pomp and pageantry, and display of military might. Obama came to Jamaica, excited our imaginations, and departed almost as quickly as he came. He had a packed 24 hours in Jamaica where he met with local and Caribbean leaders, youth leaders, before laying a wreath in honor of world war veterans.
Of note is the fact that at his town-hall meeting, the United States President announced an initiative geared for young leaders across the Caribbean and Latin America. The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative is worth US$70 million and will develop youth through training, education, and employment. While the details were not immediately available, it is significant that the project will focus on creating and expanding opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs. This entrepreneurial focus is particularly geared towards youths in poor and marginalized communities, and will seek to provide them with skills needed for success in the 21st century.
Clearly, Obama’s focus is in the right direction: the youth. He was able to recognize our great potential and on the visit sought to address it. He pointed to the large percentage of youth that make up the population of the Americas, and definitely sees this as a positive. He further pointed out that: “Entrepreneurship and small and medium-size businesses are a priority, which means we have to create channels for access to capital, technical training – these are areas a lot of our development aid should go. Instead of just giving somebody a fish, we want to teach them how to fish”
Obama, though not as young as when he assumed the presidency, is still able to connect with young people. In fact he engaged them in a riveting session. I was not able to make it, due to a prior engagement (and no invitation), but I am excited about the prospects that the initiative holds and about the general attention given to youth like myself. Great going Obama! Big up!