Afiya’s love of Cayman shows through winning Rotary essay

Slow pace, colour, family, caring, good food. 

Those were all images that Afiya Anyabwile conjured up when writing her winning essay on the topic My Cayman (see essay below). 

With her prose, Afiya won this year’s Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Adventure’s in Citizenship Essay Contest.  

She was awarded her prize of an ipade at a recent Rotary luncheon at the Marriott Beach Resort where Minister Rolston Anglin handed her the award and she read out her winning essay. Other competition finalists were TsinZan Graham from Cayman International School, Starri Smith from Clifton Hunter High School, Kevin Weber from Grace Christian Academy, Joanna Tibbets from Layman E. Scott High School and Dorothy Ojero from Cayman Prep and High School. Each received a Kindle in recognition of their achievement.  

The Adventures in Citizenship Essay Contest was open to all students in their junior year of high school in Cayman. Of the six schools that participated this year, there were 19 essays entered with one finalist from each school that entered. The entries were between 500 and 750 words and completely original. 

As part of the prize, the finalists enjoyed a glimpse into the inner workings of government. On Thursday, 18 April, the finalists, along with their Rotary chaperones, were guests at the weekly Cabinet press conference. They also visited the court house and met with the Court Administrator Kevin McCormac. 

The following day the finalists met with Speaker of the House Mary J. Lawrence and toured the Legislative Assembly. Immediately following, Governor Duncan Taylor hosted a luncheon at his residence. The adventure closed with a tour of the Government Administration Building and a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose. 

Renee Edwards, public relations director of Rotary Club, said the Adventures in Citizenship programme brings together a select group of youths living in Cayman so that they can learn about the privileges and responsibilities that go along with citizenship. 

“The programme provides a unique opportunity for participants to express their thoughts and feelings about the Cayman Islands,” Ms Edwards said. “It allows participants an opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Cayman Islands government to learn about how the country is operated and to meet some of the country’s political leaders.”


My Cayman by Afiya Anyabwile

Callie pressed her face up against the small rectangular air plane window and stared at the beautiful island below her. Home. Slow pace, she thought. She had been making a mental list of things she loved about Cayman since the day she booked a flight. Her feet tapped impatiently on the floor as the island below her grew bigger. After spending an entire year away in England at boarding school, she was looking forward to spending some time on Cayman with her family. Before long, she could make out the tops of houses and palm trees. The ocean held vibrant shades of deep blue, sea foam green and every colour in between. Callie smiled as the air plane dipped down towards the airport and glided gently onto the runway. Colour, she added.

Minutes later she was skipping down the stairs off the air plane. Her bag thumped against her back as she jumped off the last step. She’d missed it all so much. The humid and hot Caymanian summer air that hit her face and whipped up a few beads of sweat on her forehead almost instantaneously, the sweet, salty smell of the ocean less than a mile away, the sound of beautiful green parrots cawing overhead… It was all so beautiful and calming and homey. Sea water, heat, sun, relaxing. It felt like the entire island was saying “Welcome home, Callie!” She couldn’t get out of the airport fast enough. She swirled through immigration and dragged her luggage as quickly as she could out the doors of the airport.

Before she could even adjust her eyes to the change of lighting she was thrown into a whirlwind of hugs and kisses from family members. She wrapped her arms around her mom and thanked her dad as he took her bags from her. Her little sister held her hand and skipped towards the car, chatting away about her new dance classes. Family, she whispered to herself.

Everybody spoke over each other, peppering Callie with questions about school, friends and England. She did her best to answer as fast as they were able to ask. Caring, she thought. Soon her mom’s rickety minivan pulled into the driveway. Luscious flowers grew up around the sides of the house and a cluster of balloons hovered by the front gate. Her dad turned in his seat and smiled back at her. “Welcome home, Cal,” he said.

Callie threw open the door to the car and ran into the house. She took a slow breath in through her nose and recognized food. Jerk chicken, rice and beans and curry goat. All of her favourites. She flicked on the light switch and almost fifteen people sprung up from behind sofas, walls and tables yelling “Surprise!” or “Welcome home!” Friends. All the people she cared about the most were gathered in her living room and had planned a party just for her. Callie went around hugging and thanking friends. Her aunt piled spoonful upon spoonful of food onto a flimsy plastic plate and put it in her hands. Good food she thought, as she downed a serving of rice in record timing.

She looked around the room and smiled, feeling so thankful for this beautiful country. It wasn’t perfect, but it was hers. This is my home, she thought. This is my Cayman.


Rotary winning essay

Acting Rotary President Stephanie Wight, with competition winner, Afiya Anyabwile and her parents, Thabiti and Kristie Anyabwile. – Photo: Joanna Lewis

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