Ju Lee shares her strategies for keeping students engaged in an online environment. Her classroom is designed as her holy space (Sanctum Sanctorum) where students find themselves and their purpose. Life is design and art is her mantra. She comments that Graphic Design is one of the growing areas at Costaatt and expects that her students will continue to be successful, expanding their knowledge and moving to greater heights of excellence.
Her success began with parents who supported her desire to study art at Howard University. Ju Lee worked as a graphic designer at McCann World Group, WHMM TV Channel 32 and the Washington City Paper.
At 15:00 the mood changes to a discussion about value of “liming” with Sonja Dumas who is a performer, choreographer, writer, filmmaker, teacher and arts development consultant.
Sonja acknowledges the wisdom of developing the creative arts offerings at our educational institutions and makes a case for developing local “patrons” who would fund the creation of works of art. She notes that the French Caribbean territories like Martinique and Guadeloupe have designed a creative ecosystem where artists can thrive as professionals as opposed to the English speaking Caribbean where creatives engage their passion as a “side hustle”.
As Sonja projected into the future she suggested that there should be a “government bond” of $100 million to fund the arts. It would require an administrative framework to operationalize and measure and evaluate its success.
Her parting advice was: “be efficient so could you lime more”.
Dr. Trevor Townsend, Senior Lecturer in Transportation Engineering at the University of the West Indies weighs in on public transportation in Trinidad and Tobago. He points out that with a population of just over one million persons, the solutions to our transportation problems are within reach but they require that an institution/organization/official takes responsibility for planning and execution. While there are no overnight fixes a focussed approach, with clear allocation of responsibilities will make a difference.
His view is that citizens deserve to be confident that the systems and processes are available to make transportation seamless and convenient. Currently the state is subsidizing each passenger on the Water Taxi services between San Fernando and Port of Spain to the tune of $100.00 per trip and spending $M400 million annually to subsidize a bus company which transports 1% of passengers on the east/west corridor.
At the 19:00 minute mark the mood switches and we welcome Saxophonist/Educator Tony Paul who makes a strong case for pushing the cultural shift from the seasonality of our music to music which can be offered year round and have international appeal.
Tony’s training spans the United Kingdom and the United States where he attained an MMus focused in Music Education from Boston University.
In responding to a question about performance spaces, he spoke about the need for spaces to be more user centred and tailored to both the performers and the supporting public. While the aloneness of Covid has devastated a number of performers, Tony has used the time to refresh some of his skills, improve his craft and work on his new album.
The official in another country laughed when I presented my driver’s permit because it was a simple laminated card which could be made at any print shop. That was about 15 years ago and things have improved slightly. I thought of this when I received my vaccine card which provides evidence that I received my first COVID-19 Jab. My mind wondered even further when I considered that our celebrated first round of vaccinating 3% of our population will generate at least 80 thousand pieces of paper if the model at the Queens Park Savannah is replicated throughout the country.
A casual scrub through the Facebook page of the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation (MPADT) throws up the following statement: “Our aim is to bridge the digital divide by providing free and easy to access Wi-Fi to citizens at their convenience.” I therefore question the missed opportunity to digitize the administering of the COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccination is an opportunity to interact digitally with the at-risk cohort and the senior citizens cohort. It is an opportunity to send a message of transformation; to use technology to demonstrate that we can communicate effectively using a modern approach; to map where those 40,000 jabs reside and maybe help communicate the behaviour change which is necessary to transform our country. So many unintended messages could have been sent had we taken the time to use technology in the vaccine roll-out.
The main document each person needed was their identification card. The information was copied into a book when you made the appointment, then a form was filled out at the Vaccine Centre and after receiving your vaccine, you were given a vaccination card. Couldn’t this have been done electronically and your certification emailed?
We have missed these opportunities in the first round, but thankfully it is not too late to develop the systems and processes necessary to digitize the second round. Taking that bold step requires a forward thinking leadership that understands systemic thinking and behaviour change. The leadership on this giant step should come from the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation (MPADT) which, as the name suggests, was established to lead our country’s digital transformation.
Part of the COVID-19 conversation speaks about building back better and bouncing back. As a developing country we need to go beyond bouncing back and figure out how to bounce forward and take our populations with us. The world has moved forward to a different landscape where using technology is common, available and all over the place. Trinidad and Tobago is far behind the curve but we need to find the means necessary to really transform our digital space and be part of the global conversation about sustainability and development.
The only future wave we need to be on is the one powered by technology.