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Amina Blackwood Meeks in a storytelling mood at the UWI, Mona, Homecoming 2016 activities on Friday, February 5. 
From left: Jamaica College upper sixth-former Ashay Blake is thrilled to be photographed with Bahamian booth representative Latesha Gibson. 

UWI Mona hosts homecoming week

Paul H. Williams
Hospitality Jamaica Writer

There was much festivity on the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) last week as the region's premier tertiary institution hosted homecoming celebrations, which is part of the thrust to integrate students and staff who are from different Caribbean islands.

The theme for the week was 'Reigniting the Pelican Flame'.

Also, the activities have been held for the past several years "because we want a chance for our students and graduates, staff, members of the community, supporters ... to come together and reaffirm the extent of the contribution that the university has made to the region, the work that is being done by the institution, and just to celebrate being a part of the university", Dr Carol Edwards, UWI's director of marketing, recruitment, and communications, told Hospitality Jamaica.

The process started last Thursday with a homecoming parade of students from contributing territories. According to Edwards, this year's parade was the biggest ever. "They all came out because they wanted to be a part of the experience," she said of the students who participated.

On Friday when Hospitality Jamaica visited, it was the 'Caribbean Day Festival of Food and Culture', showcasing the food and culture. Information booths exposing the culture and social history of the contributing territories, storytelling, and a variety of performances were on display. The highlight of the day seemed to be the sampling of dishes from all over the Caribbean, as well as a best-dish competition.

It was a festival where many queens were in attendance. Hospitality Jamaica spoke with two of them, Miss UWI Mona 2015, Aneika Louis from Tobago, and UWI graduate Dr Sanetta Myrie, Miss Jamaica World 2015.

Louis said Homecoming Week and Caribbean Day, in particular, was important to her because "coming from a small island like Tobago, it gives the rest of the university a chance to know who else is on campus and who they are sharing space with and who the family of UWI is made up of". Looking around the grounds, she observed that "UWI is out here and UWI is celebrating and appreciating Caribbean culture that is ours".

In speaking about her passion for the Jamaican culture, Myrie said that she was happy and proud to represent her country. And on the matter of her being a graduate of UWI and to have gone back to the homecoming celebrations as Miss Jamaica, she said, "It's a grand homecoming. I'm getting the love from my fellow pelicans, and I am so grateful when UWI students come together and give their support."

Later in the evening, there was a public lecture by Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie, who was named by the homecoming selection committee as this year's honouree. Professor Leo-Rhynie is the first female to become both deputy principal and principal of The University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

Other activities for the week included a rivalry football match between the UWI and the University of Technology. 


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