Yanique Lawrence (Jamaican Observer) focuses on Jamaicans who have set out to explore new opportunities and have made their mark in China. Lawrence writes, “Jamaicans are in just about every corner of the world and with the fast development of China it is no surprise that several Jamaicans have sought out opportunities in the new land of the rising sun.” Here are excerpts:
It is difficult to say precisely how many Jamaicans there are in China but based on those registered at the embassy and those who are a part of the Caribbean Association in China (CAC), there are at least 50 Jamaicans (born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parentage) throughout China. Though, such a small number in a country of over a billion people, the Jamaicans have still managed to make a mark as cultural ambassadors in China, mainly through their work as a part of the CAC.
In 2007, a group of Caribbean nationals who resided in Shanghai, China at the time, thought it would be a good idea to have a support system for Caribbean nationals in China and thus the CAC was born. Since then the association has grown in its purpose and size. However, of all the Caribbean countries, Jamaica has the largest membership and the present president of the association is Dr Nicoleen Johnson who hails from Westmoreland, Jamaica. Dr Johnson pursued her Masters and doctoral degree in at the Fudan University and upon completion, started her own business as an independent trade consultant of China Trade Consulting Co Ltd, assisting companies to conduct business in China.
The CAC works closely with, but independently of the Caribbean embassies and governments and its mission is ‘to foster a stronger understanding and appreciation of our Caribbean culture, strengthening Sino-Caribbean relations, and to serve as a support network for the Caribbean community in China’, while also giving back to local charities.
[. . .] Being a part of a network of people who are from a similar cultural background helps to make the transition in adapting to life in China easier and it also provides an occasional escape to Caribbean experiences. Throughout the year there are many activities that keep us connected but most are in Shanghai as that’s where the CAC’s headquarters is located.
Caribbean nationals tighten their bonds through a range of activities such as fun days (like a recently held day of go karting), outings (day trips to places of interest in Shanghai or its outskirts) and two major parties a year – the annual CAC Christmas party and the CAC’s anniversary dinner in May/June where there is an abundance of Caribbean dishes, Caribbean music and Caribbean people. However, the most important work of the CAC is its charity efforts. Profits from any event are contributed to two charity projects to which the association has committed – students from the Chang Lin Migrant School and a group of HIV/AIDS impacted kids. The students of the migrant schools are children, whose often poor families relocate from rural areas to Shanghai for work, usually manual labour, and they enroll their children into these schools specifically set up for the children of migrant workers as it is the most affordable option.
[. . .] Many people of non-Caribbean origin have so enjoyed being a part of the CAC’s events and outreach programmes that they have embraced the Caribbean culture, the CAC’s mission and have become members of the CAC. Its diverse membership now includes people of various nationalities from other parts of the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.
You may visit the CAC website at http://www.cachina.org/