Au revoir, Total Bordeaux scholars

Friday, September 21, 2018

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LISA Vasciannie, lecturer, international relations, and coordinator of the French-Caribbean programme at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said the basic requirement to be considered for the much-sought-after Total Jamaica scholarship is for prospective awardees to be proficient in French. She could have jokingly added “petite”.

Samantha Powell and Gabrielle Buddoo, whose statures belie their ages, 21 and 22, respectively, were hosted by Total Jamaica at a Devon House send-off luncheon last Friday, as the pair of shy but focused scholarship recipients expressed their gratitude and looked forward to spending the next academic year at Sciences Po Bordeaux in France, courtesy of Total Jamaica.

Launched in 2008, the study programme is a tripartite agreement involving Sciences Po Bordeaux, France, partnering with UWI, Mona, and University des Antilles, Martinique. Sciences Po Bordeaux celebrated the 10th anniversary of the exchange programme in January this year.

Total Jamaica's new managing director Chris Okonmah's first official function in Jamaica was to meet, greet and bid au revoir to Powell and Buddoo as the French multinational petroleum company saw off its fourth pair of scholarship awardees since joining the programme as Bordeaux-year sponsor in 2015.

Powell, who attended Rusea's High, and Buddoo, a Holy Childhood graduate, completed their first year at UWI, Mona, and will move on to Bordeaux before returning briefly to Jamaica, then onto Martinique for their third year, en route to acquiring a master's in political science and international relations, years four and five completed in France and Jamaica, respectively.

Okonmah, who presented the young women with their bursaries, said Total Jamaica was again pleased to partner with UWI to help two Jamaicans live their dreams of studying abroad, without the burden of expenses on their slender shoulders, adding that the company also has other initiatives for industrious young people.

“One of the problems we have in the world today is that people have education but not skill. We have a Startupper Programme coming in which we will encourage a competition for youths, below 35, to think of something ingenious, as entrepreneurs, to present to a panel of top CEOs. It is part of Total's desire to support the socio-economic development of all countries in which we operate.

“The best three will be selected and given coaching and financial support to help them attain realisation of their projects,” said Okonmah, pointing out that the ideas do not have to be petroleum-related.

“We also have the Young Graduate Programme where we interview and recruit young graduates. If selected, they work within Jamaica for six months. Should they do well, we send them off to another country, anywhere in the world Total operates, to work for a year, to acquire skills they can use in the future. Upon completing the year abroad, should there be an opening that matches their skills then we would be open to retaining them” he added.

Tafar-I Williams, who, along with Janique Crosdale, was a 2017 recipient, joined senior management of Total Jamaica at the luncheon. He implored Powell and Buddoo to immerse themselves in French culture.

“My experience of the programme has been a fulfilling one, wholesome, character-building,” said Williams, who is gearing up for his third year in Martinique.

“One of the most important things is immersing yourself in the culture. I have encouraged them to do so because France is a bit more bureaucratic than other European countries so you have to learn the processes and the language. My French is now at a sustainable level and I owe it all to this programme,” he said.

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