The Department of Children and Family Services has designated May as Child Month in the Cayman Islands.
Under this year’s theme Hands Across Time, the purpose of Child Month is to highlight and promote the talents and achievements of children, among other things.
To highlight youth, the Weekender interviewed Tiffany Rankine, 17, a student at the University College of the Cyaman Islands. She dreams of becoming a forensic expert. Following is her insight on what she sees happening within her country and some ideas about addressing these issues for her and for future generations.
Tiffany Rankine, in her words:
Cayman is a beautiful place and I love it; it’s my country. I do not want to see it change for the worse, especially if we can do something to prevent it.
Cayman as a country, I believe, is just falling apart right now. The people have no say; even though we say something, nothing much is done about it. It is hard to say what could happen 10 years from today, but most of it will depend on the decisions government makes right now, which will determine the future of generation to come.
I grew up in Cayman. I love my people and it will be hard to leave them behind. Cayman is changing, so is the whole world. Anywhere I go there will be changes. After my studies overseas I hope to return and get a job in my country. It is sad but true, it is cheaper for employers to pay foreign help than to take time to train Caymanians and provide benefits.
Some of my peers realise what is going on in Cayman from just trying to get a job …it’s getting tougher for us. Some young adults are using the wrong method of getting money, such as using and selling drugs, which makes it even worse for them and the community. Some teens just want money and will go to lengths to get it. Yes, some have thrown the opportunity away to get further education. The community and government can help but it is actually up to us young adults if we really want to be helped.
On Cayman’s population:
A bigger population means more mouths to feed, more services needed, more housing and more chaos. We cannot even handle the population at present and it would not be sustainable.
Our government has a huge job to handle and it is a tough job. They have people’s advice and opinions thrown at them and most of the times it is bias. The public is not seeing what has been done but what can be done; this makes it very difficult for those running the country.
I am really not into politics, but the decisions the government has been making so far are not the best. Why build two schools at once and try to renovate the whole of John A. Cumber Primary? And another thing, why did they change the look of the money? It looks very fake, I even hesitate when I take it from people. I wonder how much people like the look of the new money.
I also do not think we get all the information about what is going on in the country – not unless we put the effort into looking for ourselves or asking someone. To find out I had to go searching for myself. It is not something that is brought up in school or discussed with much of us.
The education system:
We do not even have a good education system in the public school right now. They changed the programme and most of the children are not mature enough or have the level of education to go on to the next options that are being provided.
The crime is a big factor right now and most young people are saying Cayman is boring and there is not a lot to do. We have lots of clubs and bars, there are more advertisements promoting these establishments than is done for youth functions and church.
These advertisements have a lot of influence on young people. Fifteen-year-olds get into clubs without identification, which is ridiculous. I see no reason why young people cannot wait. I don’t see the need to drink and for what reason.
Our cultural heritage:
When it comes to promoting Cayman cultural heritage Tiffany believes the country is doing enough.
There are lots of programmes and activities in the schools, on the streets and advertised based on Cayman old-time traditions for people to get involved. There are lots of discussion on our heritage, which features the preservation of historic buildings, arts and seafaring heritage.
I think we are doing enough to promote tourism. Why, it seems that Cayman just revolves around tourism and we are forgetting about our own people. We are focusing on how to make visitors’ life much better, not how we can make the lives of the locals and the people who live here much better.
She said an article in a recent newspaper asked what to do with the old Hyatt, and her response is: Buy it and turn it into a homeless shelter or halfway house.
A changing life:
She attended Red Bay Primary School, went on to George Hicks, John Gray and then the University College of the Cayman Islands where she is studying natural sciences.
Her career preferences have changed over the years; her inclination toward the arts diminished because there was not much one could do in Cayman with art, so she went for the sciences: “I love to know how things work in detail and science fulfils that for me.”