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Staff, employees and trainees alike viewed 17 and 18 December 2002 at the National Skills Development Center with great anticipation. It was our annual Open Day, a chance to showcase our new-found skills and abilities to the entire community. Months of preparation went into everything from each class’s display, to the layout of the presentation rooms, to the sequence of events for the two days. We were bolstered in our efforts just a few days before the event when we heard that the Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy, would be attending. As the island’s representative of the Queen, her duties include attending events such as our Open Day.
On the morning of the 17th, I worked feverishly with several of my co-workers to tie up some last minute loose ends. Guests were due to arrive in a matter of minutes and much of the center was still in disarray. I felt increasingly frazzled and edgy as the small tasks of making nametags and positioning everyone mounted up. The Governor General would be coming, a representative of the Queen! For such an important person, things must be perfect! What would she think to see the state of affairs any other way?
As my blood pressure rose, I took a deep breath. What standard was I holding everything to? This was not a state dinner or black-tie affair, but a group of students showing what they had learned in their three-month course—which they did beautifully. Groups of students monitored stations, giving demonstrations and explanations to guests. They were eager to tell all they knew, whether it be in computer repair or electronics; or to show their skills in cosmetology or cake decorating. Local television and radio crews came to report on our successes.
When the Governor General came, she could not have been a more friendly and gracious guest. She spent time listening to the presentations of each class, asking questions, and sampling their products. After all, these were her constituents and country-people. She was proud to see what they had accomplished and where they were headed.
For me, it was a good lesson in cultural adaptation. When I remembered my Lucian mindset, I remembered “Irie, it’s safe, no probs”. It was also a treat to meet the Governor General and see that she felt the same way.