I am Tyreek Welsh and I was a facilitator of the Caribbean School Of Data (CSOD) pilot group in Kingston, Jamaica that ended in February 2020. As a facilitator, I was responsible for assisting with both technical and administrative support and we had to familiarize ourselves with the learning objectives as well as the contents of the course. This was done in order to assist the students with any questions or clarify anything that they may not have understood.
As a part of the process, we had to assist students by downloading the courses onto their tablets, as well as to sort out any technical issues they were having as it relates to accessing or completing the course. During the pilot programme, we met with the group every Saturday at 9am and followed up on their progress, and discussed the content of each module.
During the [period spent facilitating the group], I was able to communicate and get to know some of the participants and I had the privilege of experiencing their eagerness, their concerns and their plans for the future. The ones who came every Saturday showed their enthusiasm by completing the different modules on time and asked questions within and outside the context of the course.
Given the correct environment and a mentor, I can guarantee the growth of many of these participants. I remember speaking to a participant who wanted to pursue mechanical engineering. He asked how he would be able to merge both mechanical engineering and the digital world. At the time, I gave the answer I could and I remember directing his question to Dr. McNaughton for further examination. Looking at this situation I realized that given a mentor to guide and to mold his development and decisions, he would be able to reach farther than what he believes he can achieve. Many youths are in a similar situation and given the right environment and a good mentor will become success stories.
On June 13, 2020 we hosted the virtual launch of our Mentorship Programme and Online Community. Our Jamaican students will be the first to experience it through this platform in July, as we aim to expand the mentor/ mentee relationship to include other Caribbean countries in the near future.
The programme is designed to nurture our students’ attitudes and perspectives towards self-actualization, while entrenching them in positive networks and exposing them to opportunities for growth through online engagement. Built over a three-month engagement beginning midway through the curriculum, participants will agree to weekly contact to aid in mentees’ professional and personal development, leadership skills, and contribute to their overall growth and development; with the final outcome being the creation of a development plan for each young person.
Current mentor and community volunteers are business, marketing and technology professionals in the region and the wider diaspora. The application and onboarding process ensures all applicants complete reciprocal applications and courses, with matching and relationship building done by programme staff across five criteria: language, gender, country, personal goals, industry interest, subject area. Matches have pre, mid, and end of programme assessments.
Another way we will be providing support for our students and for persons to be involved is through the CSOD online community. This community will offer functional groups that represent the role a participant plays in the community, resulting in country groups formed around country of participation and/or country of interest and Interest groups characterised by professional, theme-based groups. Mentees will also benefit from job boards, informing them of relevant job postings from our partner countries/territories and an Employers’ Network to inform, interact and connect participants around opportunities and emerging trends.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, sign up here.