When 16-year-old Michaiah Bryan was told he was the winner of the Commonwealth Write Around the World Competition, he couldn’t believe it.
‘This is the first time I won something from the Commonwealth Competition. It was nice to know that someone other than me thought it was good. I had some doubts,’ he said.
The topic, Education – creating opportunity, realising potential, is something that the Triple C School student feels strongly about: he would like to become a college professor in either music or foreign languages.
He credits his parents, Earl and Pamela Bryan, with raising him to have good manners and respect for others.
‘It makes it easy to get on with people when you show them respect. They are more comfortable around you,’ he said.
Michaiah was born in Jamaica but has lived in Cayman since he was five years old. His interests include reading, music and playing basketball. His favourite subjects are English, Bible studies and Spanish.
Here is his winning essay:
According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, education is the act or process of educating or being educated. The Concise American Heritage Dictionary concurs with this and goes on to state that education is the skills or knowledge so developed. Education is a great and important part of life. It can open doors for an individual, as well as advance the outlook of a country. In our ever-changing world, we need to be prepared mentally to face the challenges of this world. Part of that mental preparation is education. The very valuable asset can create opportunities as well as harness potential.
The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus states that opportunity is a chance or opening offered by circumstances. The same dictionary defines potential as the capacity for use or development. In days gone by, it did not take much of an education to get ahead in life. The most you needed was a high school education, bravery, and the willingness to work hard. Most people did not even bother to go past high school because this was all they needed. Today, you need to have a BA in order to be even considered for most jobs. This is somewhat of a positive change. The new stress on education pushes people to work harder to advance themselves because they know that with an advanced education, they stand a better chance of obtaining a good spot in the job field. In this way, education creates the opportunity for people to realise their potential.
Here in the Cayman Islands, education is critical. There are schools in these islands that do their best to prepare their students for the outside world. This is necessary because when people are educated, it enables them to find better jobs that can offer them better financial support as well as improve their society.
Economic development in the Cayman Islands depends on well-educated people occupying positions in places of business. Without properly educated people, this country’s economy will not enjoy the prosperity it is so well accustomed to. That is because much of the Cayman Islands’ income comes from banking and tourism. In the banking field, well-educated people are needed to be managers, marketing workers, and tellers. When the banks’ operations run smoothly, then the economy is strengthened.
The same is true of the tourism industry. This industry needs people who can advertise, market, and boost the image of the islands that make up this country. This, in turn, will create an inflow of tourists, whose money will strengthen the economy. We also need people in the hotels who can continue to give good service. The good times that tourists experience here will cause them to go back to their countries with stories for their friends. Those stories could cause their friends to want to come to these islands, which would get our islands more money.
Education not only benefits those who are immediately in a position to enter the job market, it also benefits the young. From an early age students should learn about their country’s economy. This learning process should teach the students about the growth and development of the country’s economy as well as teach the student how to be a citizen who tries to help boost that economy. The more we in the Cayman Islands learn about our economy, the more we can improve it and find ways to make it as strong as we possibly can.
Here in the Cayman Islands, the people have so much potential. According to Dr. Myles Monroe, ‘Our world today is in desperate need of such individuals.’ In this country there is ample opportunity for children to obtain an education. Some students choose to take full advantage of this while others do not. There are those who have gone on to higher education, while others have fallen by the wayside. Either way, potential does not depend on education. Potential can only be harnessed and increased. Education can only help students to grow and develop. As previously mentioned, having a higher education at this time in history can make finding a job easier. With education so easily accessible here, students should do their best to get ahead in life.
Education can also advance our society. When people are educated with the right materials they can learn how to treat each other well. People need to learn that prejudice and hate stem from some form of fear. Some humans treat others like dirt. With proper education, people will be taught that these actions are unacceptable. In this way, people all over the world will come to learn better ways to treat their fellow human beings.
Here in the Cayman Islands, there are people that have different nationalities, cultures, religions, beliefs, creeds, and ideas. Sometimes, there is evidence of prejudice between nationalities. This prejudice must be confronted. No one deserves to be hated or discriminated against. There are some ways to change this. From a very young age, people should be taught that people who are different from you are not necessarily inferior or superior to you. Both this idea and tolerance need to be taught. People need to learn to appreciate other cultures and to celebrate differences and not hate because of those differences. These sentiments need to be taught in homes as well as in schools and churches.
Respect is also something that needs to be taught and learned. Many children here do not know their place when it comes to their relationships with adults. Some believe that they can talk to adults any way they please. However, reality will probably hit some of these people when they enter the job field. They will soon find out that respect will be an important part of being able to keep their jobs. Managers and supervisors are people who command respect. If a child does not practice respecting their parents and teachers, then that child may not be able to respect his or her employer, manager, or supervisor when they enter the workplace. That child may not even be capable of respecting his or her colleagues, people who would be at the same level as they are.
In schools, students need to learn the value of generosity. A little bit can go a long way, and everything you can do to help someone else counts. Children need to be taught that not everything is about you. The single individual is not always the most important. Helping those in need should be something that is part of every child’s education here in the Cayman Islands and around the world. In a country that enjoys great financial security, we as students in Cayman need to learn to give to those in less fortunate positions than we are. We students are the ones that can create a better society by looking out for those who need attention. For example, we can send money to those who are victims of starvation and other dire circumstances. We should help where we can.
In September 2004, out largest island, Grand Cayman, was hit by Hurricane Ivan. The aftereffects of this hurricane were also a form of education. We, the residents of this island learned some of the things that were previously mentioned. We learned to help out the neighbour who needed a hand. We learned to share what we had with those who did not have enough. We learned that sometimes the community is more important than the individual and that our petty differences were not going to help us through the tough process that lay ahead. Some of these truths were told to us before, but we had never really had to apply them too literally. However, we all were quickly educated. All of us had to realise this. Now, the struggle will be to always keep these lessons in mind, for if we do, we will undoubtedly create a better society here in the Cayman Islands.
In conclusion, out society can be changed and developed by education. Children should learn the ins and outs of business. We should learn ways to improve our island. This will strengthen our country’s economy. We also need to learn that prejudice and hate are not going to get us anywhere. Petty differences need to be put aside. We need this education in the schools at all levels. We also need to learn this in our homes. This will strengthen our society. Once economy and society are strengthened, we can continue to move forward, create opportunity, and increase potential.