Credit: Derrick Scott/JIS Plans are in high gear for the staging of the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference scheduled for Kingston, Jamaica during from June 16th -20th. According to Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., his Ministry began the preliminary process and will be seeking the input of the Diaspora to make this conference a success.Seeking the Diaspora’s inputAddressing members of the U.S. Diaspora at its inaugural summit at the Morrow Convention Center in the city of Morrow, Georgia, Minister Charles pointed out the US Summit is a precursor to next year’s Biennial Diaspora conference in Jamaica. He said the Diaspora’s input is being sought in the total planning of the conference so that its voice will form part of the programs and events that will be implemented.The Minister said the conceptualization of this Summit was timely and visionary as it placed Diaspora interests on the “center stage. It presents an opportunity to further cement intra-Diaspora partnerships with the national goals in sight.” The Junior Minister told the over 200 participants that any formulation of a strategic Diaspora Development plan should be inclusive where it brings together the Jamaican organizations, associations, taskforces and those who may not be affiliated with any group. It should also entail strong partnerships and co-operation across a wide spectrum at the local and national levels. Diaspora Youth Councils The Plan, he further stated, should embrace mutuality, that is, it should serve the interests of all parties involved such as the millennials. “I intend to lead the establishment of Diaspora Youth Councils so that the young people will have a functional space to craft ingenious strategies and programs for their own empowerment. I also wish to expand the Birthright Program by giving youngsters the opportunity to experience Jamaica in terms of the work environment and culture. This will serve to strengthen the affinity and linkages with Jamaica.”In her remarks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks pointed out that, “The Jamaican Diaspora represents more than a source of remittances and the Government of Jamaica sees you as important partners in nation-building. Your support over the years which has taken many forms, is deeply appreciated. As the Government takes the necessary steps to take the country to the next level of development, we invite you to join in taking our partnership to the next level, so that together, we can realize Vision 2030 which seeks to make Jamaica “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”Town hall meetings across the USThe Jamaican envoy stated that in an effort to support Jamaican nationals. she along with the embassy, will stage a number of town hall meetings in key cities across the United States so that Jamaicans can be aware of the impact of the evolving policies on Jamaicans living in the US.