Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Diaspora Conference to be more interactive, says Dr Kevin Brown

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:08 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The 10th Biennial Diaspora Conference, which opens in Montego Bay tomorrow, will see a drastic departure from previous conferences with more interaction by participants. So says Dr Kevin Brown, chair of the conference’s programme and content committee.

Dr Brown told The Gleaner that the emphasis at past conferences was on government ministers and other officials addressing participants, but neither will there be major PowerPoint presentations nor over presentations by ministers and other government officials this year.

“We heard you and we have made changes to how the conference is structured. It will be an interactive discussion process between moderators, panellists and members of the audience,” he said.

Dr Brown stressed that any member of the audience will be free to ask questions, jump in with suggestions and be a part of the discussion.

“Diaspora delegations will participate in the discussions and not just have officials speaking down to them,” he said.

Audience participation

Dr Brown said that just over 50 per cent of the conference allows for audience participation, which is a drastic departure from previous conferences.

He said that the conference programme has been devised in this manner because of feedback received from the diaspora.

He further pointed out that every panel will have representatives from the diaspora who will bring their own expertise to bear on the discussions; and that businesspeople from the diaspora will speak to how people in the diaspora can develop and maintain businesses in the diaspora.

“It will not only be about investing in Jamaica but their expertise will be shared with people looking to do business in the diaspora,” he said.

The conference, to be held at the Montego Bay Conference Centre, runs until June 19 and has as its theme ‘United for Jamaica’s Transformation: Fostering Peace, Productivity and Youth Empowerment’.

The conference kicks off Monday morning with a power breakfast and then breaks out in plenary sessions.

Dr Brown said that with the agenda, the committee tried to cover topics that are of importance to Jamaicans in the diaspora as well as at home.

“We want people in the diaspora to feel that it is their conference,” he said.

Reacting to why the agenda was not made public earlier, Dr Brown acknowledged that ideally he would have wanted the agenda out in the public but fine- tuning of the agenda did not allow for its publication earlier, although he did say that the major topics for discussion were made public before.

Asked about reports of cost overrun for the conference, Dr Brown declined to comment, pointing out that he was not a party to that this side of the planning.

Questioned about the conference organisers not seeking reduced airfares for those wanting to attend, he again said he could not speak to the issue but did point out that for Air Canada participants could seek a discount once they are registered for the conference.