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Without a doubt, Jamaica is a country of dramatic contrasts. If I look back at my own writing this week, I can easily trace the things that have frustrated me, but even in that I can find much to like. Many days leave me with nothing but a head that is shaking in wonderment. But, many days also leave me with a warm feeling that comes from feeling so much pride for the people around me. How can that be?, I sometimes ask myself.

Today, my daughter’s school was hosting the latest leg of an inter-school sports festival. About six schools were involved, including one from The Bahamas.
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The children were focused on playing tennis and football today. Some elementary children were in tennis, but most children who were playing football were middle and high schoolers. The event was due to kick off at 9, and as usual, was running late. Two schools were absent at the opening presentations. Ironically, one was just adjacent to our location; the other was really just 10 minutes away.
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However, I was not getting into the logistics of how and why they were late. We sang the national anthems of the two countries–each being a very melodious and moving version. I really got a think feeling in my through as I sang the Jamaican anthem. Then the games were ready to start.

All of the school had been present for the opening, and children were encouraged to come back to watch matches where the host school was playing.
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It was a mixed up day, but scholastic things were still in place. My role, though a football coach, was to help sell tickets for refreshments and food; otherwise, I could sit and watch the play.

Flags and sponsors’ hoardings were all over the school grounds and it looked like a big event was underway. As always, the hands behind the scenes had worked magic to get everything looking right: tents for vendors; tents for teams; tents for spectators.

Parents started to dribble in to watch their children; never a horde, but a decent number. Not everyone can or wants to take the time off during the day. Later, as afternoon came, more parents appeared–work was ending or near to that, so a natural opening had been created. The atmosphere was not wild but had animation. Nothing untoward seemed to be going on between the schools, some of whom could harbour serious rivalries.

It was hard to see what could possibly be wrong with the country they were in, or the people with whom they shared the island. Admittedly, these were people who had been well-educated and their children, who were also getting good educations and seeming to thrive at school. Not here a cohort of potential school drop-outs, coming from homes with parents who had been school drop-outs. These are fortunate Jamaicans; privileged in a sense, but the sources of their privilege were varied.

The foreign visitors were being hosted by families from the school. The overwhelming feeling was “It is great to be in Jamaica for four days”.
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They know the crime statistics, but did not seem to have any issue with being here. Some wanted to see a cricket match, if possible–20 over Test matches are going on at Sabina Park. Jamaica was for these few hours a very happy place where everyone wanted to stay.

That is what I will hold for today, sometimes labelled ‘Happy Friday’. I will not twist my mind to search for the dark and nasty and violent. It will be there for me to rediscover tomorrow.

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