Back to school – in Jamaica

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 3:00pm

If you are an islander, you have no doubt come in direct contact with Janice Jackson, cashier at the Block Island Grocery. But the chances are you didn’t know she just finished her last year at the University of Technology in Jamaica, an 11,000-student mecca for college students from throughout the Caribbean.
Twenty-four years young, she is here for her second summer and hopes for a third following her graduation this fall with a degree in Applied Science.
Her dream, a scholarship here in the United States for graduate school, and she thinks she will have more success if she is already stateside.
If a beaming smile was one of the requirements for admission, she would be a shoe-in. I have seen islanders who are so smitten by her personality and genuineness they buy her flowers in the store to give her on the way
out. One Casanova coerced the check-out patrons one day to spontaneously sing her happy birthday, both embarrassing her, and bringing tears of joy at the same time, as all the other counter lines joined in. A Block Island moment for sure.
And that is what she will miss, her fellow employees who she has bonded with, and the “regulars” she has come to know, many by their first name. “I’ve been crying all week,” she recounted as she dabbed at her eyes and
blissfully glanced across the other cash registers waving hi. “This is a small island; we all depend on each other and the islanders are all down to earth people, that’s what I came to appreciate.”
She leaves today, September 9, for New York City where she will take a few days vacation with her aunt while taking her first
classes online. Then it’s home to Jamaica where her dad waits, “my best friend in the world.” From there she’ll only have a month before learning if she’ll be coming back next summer, or be off to her next great experience and no doubt a life of success with her hard-earned degree in hand.