Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, used the words of a Guyanese folk song which translates: “if you didn’t come you wouldn’t know”— to encourage Guyanese at home and abroad, to rediscover their homeland, and make use of the opportunities available to them, during his welcome on Sunday, July 23, to unveil the historic Diaspora Engagement Conference at the Ramada Georgetown Princess.
Griffith told the audience of academics, politicians, professionals, civic society, as well as non-Guyanese, that they should get to know the wisdom and worth of each other, and maximize the opportunity to “come and know,” pointing out that many Guyanese at home do not know much about their country.
Under the theme, “Dreaming Diaspora Engagement, Doing Diaspora Engagement,” the vice chancellor encouraged attendees to engross themselves in the country’s tourism mecca, by visiting tourist sites.
Minister of Public Telecommunication, Cathy Hughes, in turn thanked members of the Diaspora for their commitment to Guyana’s development, stating that the UG Diaspora Engagement conference gives them an opportunity to help to transcend and transform Guyana, calling on the Diaspora to use the easy connectivity to give back to their communities.
She promised to navigate the challenges of Guyana and called on visitors to be patient with the government as it repositions itself to engage Guyanese who would like to return to serve their homeland.
Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Cui Jianchun, CEO of Roraima Airways Gerry Gouvier, and consultant from Canada Jillian Williams, Director of Roraima Institute, Paul Tennassee, and others, shared their insights and hopes for a successful Diaspora engagement.
More than 200 delegates attended the conference, while many others delivered keynote addresses and presented papers from various professions.
Spoken word poet, Keon Heywood, celebrated Guyana’s beauty with a poem, while London-based award-winning flautist and composer, Keith Waithe and the Macusi Players delighted the gathering.