Forty-six U.S. government cultural exchange alumni representing 19 countries from the Caribbean and the United States converged on Port of Spain from February 19-23 to participate in the seminar Alumni in Action for Resilient Communities: Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness.
In the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that made landfall from Dominica to Puerto Rico, the seminar examined quick responses and long-term recovery capacity building for emergencies and natural disasters in the Caribbean region.
Hosted by U.S. Embassy Port of Spain, the seminar was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by World Learning, and marks the first U.S. exchange alumni workshop to share efforts in emergency and disaster preparedness throughout the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. These efforts are in line with the U.S. government’s policy to increase engagement in the Caribbean as underscored in the Caribbean 2020 strategy.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Mara Tekach traveled from the U.S. State Department in Washington to address seminar participants. “By joining together to tackle themes such as ecosystem restoration and environmental health, emergency response management, and community resiliency, you have created a network of practitioners from across the Caribbean armed to develop sustainable approaches to disaster management,” she stated.
The seminar aimed to build a regional network of leaders to share best practices, increase community resilience, and improve strategic planning and recovery efforts.
Participants – who now have an opportunity to compete for small grants to make a positive difference in local communities – described the seminar as extremely timely and a fantastic opportunity bringing Caribbean nationals together to find solutions to the region’s challenges with disaster preparedness and management.