In 2013, Mr. Layton Shaw visited Peterborough from Kingston, Jamaica for two weeks. Here, he discusses his reflections after his visit.
Layton Shaw’s Reflection on his visit to Canada
Looking back I can honestly say that the weeks of November 3rd-17th, were two of the best weeks of my life. I visited Canada and ventured outside Jamaica for the first time. I arrived in Toronto at approximately 2:55pm and was greeted by Marisa who escorted me to Ayendri who hosted me for the first two days of my visit. I must add that she was a great host, as we went to a restaurant for dinner in addition to attending an old school rock/jam social event with Wendy which was awesome. It was the first time I witnessed senior citizens having so much fun in a social setting hence, that’s one memory that left a mark.
During the mentioned days I met the Jamaican Self Help organization workers and volunteers, in addition to visiting the Canoe Museum with Jen who is a volunteer at the organization. I also visited Niagara Falls with Jen and Heather who is a staff member. Indeed these experiences were amazing and some of my best memories to date.
On Wednesday November 6th, I met Joyce McKenzie who was my new and main host for the duration of my visit. She was an excellent host as she was like a grandmother to me and made me feel a part of her family. One of my most fond memories was when we visited the Farmers’ Market. It felt great and brought back memories of me and my deceased grandmother’s weekly visits to the market as a child.
In the afternoon of November 6th, I was escorted to the bus station by Marisa and boarded a bus to Toronto for the 2013 OCIC International Forum, from November 6th to 8th. In Toronto I met two more volunteers from the organization as well as Julia and her family who ensured that I was well taken care of for the duration of the forum. At the forum I presented on the topic: “Helping children in the inner city, specifically students at the Tavares Gardens Primary School to have their moment in time”. I was given great reviews and as such one individual pledged to support the work I’m doing, specifically the Drama Programme at the Tavares Gardens Primary School. Indeed the forum was a success, as I was able to share about the school, the work and programmes we are using to help modify students’ behaviors and ultimately helping them to achieve their aspired goals. I also met and formed new friendship with attendees at the forum who are now my friends on social networks.
On Saturday November 9th I attended the Jamaican Self Help Caribbean Irie Dinner where I was the guest speaker. I gave a great speech and was given a standing ovation. Indeed I felt very humbled to be receiving such love from the attendees. The following day myself, Joyce and her grandchildren visited her daughter Janice’s home. There I was introduced to Maple Syrup; the taste was amazing as I had it with eggs and ham. That same day I visited her farm and myself and Alex cut and pruned some Christmas trees, which was fun.
On November 11th, I visited Chemong Public School. I conducted rap sessions with the students from grades four, three and seven, in addition to attending the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the school. At the institution students donated books and pencils etc, for students at the Tavares Gardens Primary school, and for this I was truly humble and happy. The following day I visited Bancroft Primary School, where myself and Marisa spoke to the school population in the school auditorium. We educated them about Jamaica and the success stories of the Tavares Gardens Primary School. In the afternoon I also learned to skate, as Joyce and her grandson Alex assisted me in the process, which was a task I must add, but alot of fun. In the evening I attended the Jamaican Self Help donors gathering which was great, as I was able to meet and talk in a more intimate setting with the organization donors.
On Wednesday November 13th, I spent the day at Kenner Collegiate and Vocational School. I was given a tour of the institution by Cam and also spoke and conducted rap sessions with students at the institution. In the evening I attended a hockey game to watch two house teams play. Cam was one of the coaches of the teams and his son was a member of his team that won the match. His son is an excellent and skillful player, as he was instrumental in his teams win. I spent November 14-15 in Ottawa where I stayed with Uté who was my host. I presented as the guest speaker at the Ottawa fundraising event. While in Ottawa I visited the Canadian Parliament buildings and also did some sight-seeing with my tour guide Irvin. Indeed it was amazing and my host Uté was a great host as I enjoyed her company, passion and personality.
Finally, I attended Afrobana at Trent University with Wendy and one of her friends and it was an amazing experience that topped off a wonderful two weeks spent in the beautiful country of Canada. These are memories that I will treasure forever, indeed for me it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I would like to thank the Jamaican Self Help Organization and its volunteers for providing me with a true Canadian experience again thanks. A big thanks is extended to Marisa and Joyce for making me feel at home and welcome.
Please see some photos below from Layton’s visit.
**Editor’s note: Thanks to everyone who made Layton’s visit so memorable: Board Members: Wendy Hicks, Cam Douglas, J Reid, Julia Anderson; Volunteers: Joyce Mackenzie and Family, Nancy Chesher, Jen Boyce, Uté Gerbrandt, Irvin Stewart, J’Moi Whyte, Caileigh McKnight; Staff: Ayendri Perera, Heather Kenny and Marisa Kaczmarczyk.