Anatol Rodgers Student Crowned Junior Minister of Tourism

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Iant’a StubbsThe topic was simple and timely — because culture today is more than just about allowing visitors to experience one’s country. Tourism breaks through barriers and crosses global borders, linking countries and people in a special way. As such, contestants in the Junior Minister of Tourism Speech Competition were encouraged to use the simple three-word topic “Tourism Linking Cultures” to look at tourism as more than what The Bahamas has to offer, but instead look at what other countries offer and how to blend it all together.

Anatol Rodgers High School 11th grade student Iant’a Stubbs’ unique spin on the topic blew her 13 competitors out of the water during the 10th Annual Junior Minister of Tourism Speech Competition at the Holy Trinity Activity Centre.

In her speech, Stubbs said as countries continue to develop globally, they must ensure that chain links are created to form mutual commonalities among people, languages, festivals and the environment. She believes the links would merge culture and tourism into a diverse circle of success.

Rodgers went into the competition confident, but was still surprised to be chosen as the overall winner.

“When I won... the feeling was unexplainable. It was a mixture of joy, excitement and disbelief. I knew I had executed well, but I was still surprised at how well I had done,” said Stubbs. “I knew I had God on my side and just trusting in Him when I got the butterflies and was preparing for this speech but how everything turned still was surprising. My teacher also played a key role in me doing well.”

While the judges determined her speech was the best out of the field, Stubbs did not think there was anything that amazing that stood out about her speech that won her the competition. Rather she believed it was the elements she used in her presentation and the conviction she conveyed about what she was saying that swayed the judges. She said all the other contestants were just as good when it came to content and had an equal chance to take the coveted title.

“I had my schoolmates play drums and maracas during my introduction which was basically a popular Bahamian song with some of the words changed slightly to fit my angle for the speech competition. From there I just spoke from my heart and did my best. I guess it was enough because now I am the new Junior Minister of Tourism. It’s so exciting.”

As winner of the competition Stubbs was awarded a four-year scholarship tenable at The College of The Bahamas from the Bahamas Hotel Association. She also got a $500 cash prize and a trophy. She will also be sent on an all expense paid four-day trip to this year’s CTC conference. Her school, Anatol Rodgers High will also benefit from her win. The school was awarded a $500 prize and plaque.

Sixteen-year-old Taran Carey, representing Preston H. Albury High School out of Eleuthera placed second. One of the only two males in the competition, he returned home with a $300 prize. He also earned a $300 prize for his school.

“Win or lose, I had a good time. Being in the competition was a great experience that I would advise others to give a try if they wish to. It’s really a great addition to one’s high school experiences. I really liked my speech and I spent about a week preparing for it.”

Carey believes his engaging introduction — a song about Bahamian culture, got the crowd going and was key to him scoring a second place showing.

Third place winner Kenteeshe Williams of Old Bight High School in Cat Island returned home with a $200 prize. Her school was also the recipient of $200 and a plaque.

Although she did not win, Kennesha Rolle, from R.N. Gomez All Age School in the Berry Islands said she learned invaluable lessons about public speaking and preparedness. The 11th grade student felt that she was not as prepared as she could have been. She depended a little too much on her written speech and said if she could redo the competition she would definitely spend more time preparing not to rely on her written notes.

Joshua Fawkes, the only other competitor, from Alice Town High School in Bimini said he was returning home with a deeper knowledge and understanding of speech competitions. He believes his loss will benefit the next competitor from his island since he knows now what to do from what not to do.

“I didn’t win but I am happy that I entered the competition. The experience was amazing,” said Fawkes.

“Besides not knowing I could use props for my speech, the most surprising thing about the competition was that there were only two males in the competition. This was strange to me because I have noticed that most, if not all of the former Junior Ministers of Tourism have been males. So I expected more males to be interested and involved in this event. But nonetheless it was a great experience.”

Finding a way to continually engage students in tourism and the changes in the industry is one of the main reasons for the creation of the competition according to Samantha Cartwright, coordinator for the Junior Minister of Tourism speech competition.

“The competition has been going strong since 2002 and it is always refreshing to see the brightest and best young minds in action from year-to-year,” she said. “This year in particular I was impressed with the skills and passion of the young people who competed. It was truly the creme-de-la-creme. It was a tough year.”

The Junior Minister of Tourism program was launched in 2000 in New Providence, and adopted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in 2003. The program emerged as a result of CTOs youth initiatives that required Caribbean countries to send a representative to participate in the Youth Congress, similar to the Youth in Parliament.

Chakara Bennett
The Nassau Guardian
Published: April 4, 2012