By: Michael Lewis, Greenheart Exchange Participant Summer 2018

The duties of an ambassador can, at times, be overwhelming. I have been charged with countless ambassadorial duties throughout my existence on earth that have helped to strengthen my ability to not only lead others but also to promote various meaningful ventures. Flashback to 2011 when I was ordained the first student ambassador at Denbigh High School. This was an awe-inspiring moment in my life. Friends, teachers and other staff members at the institution, at that time, along with my grandmother, Granny Ivy, all had an increase in expectation for me as it relates to how I will act as “The Ambassador” for a noble institution. Although I am no longer at the institution, I am still considered one of their official ambassadors. Therefore, an ambassador job might be once-in-a-lifetime; however, it lasts a lifetime. This and other experiences have molded me to be an Ambassador to Jamaica – one who is able to serve as a volunteer and sell traditions of the island in various local and international domains.

Volunteering is an important aspect of my life. I owe the pleasure that I get from this fundamental trait to Granny Ivy. It is her kind deeds that inspired me to begin volunteering at an early age. If I recall clearly, my first voluntary initiative occurred when I was enrolled in Denbigh Primary School. I felt the need to visit a Child Infirmary in my parish to read, sing to, and pray for the ill children. This colorful attitude of gratitude has been stitched into the developmental fabric of my life. As a result, I am willing to engage in numerous altruistic activities in Jamaica and across the globe as an ambassador of my country.

When I think about what I love most about my culture, I think about the fact that I love to tell stories! This is an aspect of oral tradition that has been shared with me by Granny Ivy. I adopted and adapted her intrinsic storytelling ability and utilized these skills to win Best Male Story Teller at the Cultural Festival in Jamaica for 4 years! Whenever I visit a foreign territory, I feel the urge to share aspects of my country’s oral tradition. There is a great amount of cultural wealth in stories – tell them whenever you can.

If you’re not a fan of speaking, you have the option of presenting your culture on a plate. Who am I kidding? I love cooking too! The smell and taste of authentic Jamaican dishes – curry chicken or ackee and saltfish – can win the hearts of locals and internationals. Not only that, the herbs and spices are able to serve a heuristic function; providing information on our culinary culture. Sharing my culinary expertise with others is something I greatly enjoy. Besides, I am a fan of tasting foods from other countries. Yummy, I have culture in my tummy!

I owe everything to Granny Ivy! Her generational teachings have transformed the way I view and present Jamaica’s diverse culture to others. Her words of wisdom allowed me to receive my country’s highest award: The Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture. She inspired the development of my talents in the literary, visual, culinary and performing arts. As a result, I will pay tribute to her by using such skills to be an ambassador for my country.

Are you interested in being an Ambassador for your culture and country? Apply for the Summer Work Travel program today!