The ties between North Carolina and Jamaica continue to bind tighter. A delegation from the U.S. state’s Western Carolina University is in Jamaica this week to attempt to branch out their already strong relationship with the country’s caretakers and educators. WCU has already been deeply embedded in Jamaica since the 1970s, when it established a Bachelor of Science Education program. It is currently attempting to expand to create a Master’s program focusing on special education (I will write more about his later).

WCU also has a long history with Youth Opportunities Unlimited. YOU has been hosting professors and students from the school for many years. Check out a story about a visit earlier this year here. WCU students typically visit for their spring break week to participate in an “alternate spring break.” During this time, they visit disadvantaged communities and do some form of service work or learn more about Jamaica. Earlier this year, we went to Mountain View, where the students got a tour of the community and donated some sports equipment.

YOU is this week facilitating meetings with local officials so that WCU can expand its programs here. Yesterday, we met with Dr. Pauline Weir, senior medical officer of health for Kingston and St. Andrew, and three other representatives, to discuss the possibility of WCU’s nursing students visiting public health clinics in Kingston. The students would spend time observing operations and making a presentation to staff. This program is already ongoing up in the Montego Bay area, under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Clark, where for the past several years students and staff have visited, observed and brought donations of badly needed items like shoes and medical equipment. WCU also visited the Manning’s Hill Boy’s Home, where over 50 boys (up to age 18) have no family to care for them up to age 18 live.

Yesteday’s meeting went well and it looks like the visit to Kingston will occur next spring, which is great news.