Sunday, 28 March 2010

Here am I

The University wrote. I got the letter - last Friday.

I thank God for the times when He says, "No, my love."

He knows the plans He has for me, and, I gotta recognize when something I desire is not a part of them. And that's OK.

He knows where He wants me to get to and the way He wants me to get there. (Sometimes it's not necessarily the route I'd had in mind.) My energy is redirected for the journey that continues.

I am about the Abrahamic "Here am I" obedience.

Btw, here are excerpts from what I had written:


written by


for the

Program Admissions Committee

The Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Adult Education and Community Development program
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

in partial fulfillment of the application for candidacy in the Ph.D. program:

“Workplace Learning and Social Change”

November 2009

“The last word on anything hasn’t been said,” a former professor of mine, Dr. Donna Kowal, once stated during one of our spirited seminar discussions. Here I am, desirous of adding to the conversation about Workplace Learning and Social Change, convinced that I, too, can make a meaningful contribution. It is my intention, if given this opportunity, to examine the concept of the learning organization as I try to appropriate it within the broader social trend of globalization and organizational restructuring.

Whither the organization in the sea of social change and the inevitable impact on workplace learning? My very first thought on this was that the organization has to learn a few things itself. How can the organization learn to identify, value and maximise the contributions made by internationally-qualified newcomers to Canada?

Before I go further, however, kindly permit me to introduce myself. My name is Claudia ____. I am Jamaican by birth and recently adopted Canada as my new home. Over the past few years, I have been thinking seriously about pursuing a degree at the doctoral level. The time has come. In engaging in research for the Ph.D., I would have achieved one of my main personal academic goals. In addition, making this move – and completing the journey in an excellent way – would also serve to inspire, not only my immediate family, but also onlookers who may be on a similar path, though several steps behind.

... The decision to commit to a Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto, and, specifically, OISE, was not a difficult one. It was influenced by factors such as location and flexibility (I intend to maintain a work schedule).... The most influential factor, however, was the breadth and frankness of faculty members’ contribution to this conversation. I desire, very much, to be a part of that conversation! I believe this unique program at the OISE/UT will build on my strong university foundation — B.A. in English and M.A. in Communication — and be critical in helping me achieve my objective, through stirring academic exchange.

“The path of least resistance makes men and rivers crooked,” the saying goes. The journey to this decision has been fraught with challenging, albeit, productive and rewarding learning experiences. It has become clear, (hindsight is always 20/20), that those experiences will certainly inform this particular area of study. I have gleaned much from working in several capacities in Jamaica, the United States of America and Canada; working while studying (and graduating with honours); working in both the public and private sectors and, as well, being unemployed.

I believe that there are differing perspectives about the concept of workplace learning. Sure, there is the almost spontaneous response of examining training within the workplace/organization. Consider, too, the effects of the dynamics of social change as they are brought to bear on organizational policies and programs regarding learning in the workplace. However, I imagine that the organization, as a living organism, needs to successfully play the role of learner as well.

In 1993, Watkins and Marsick observed that “Organizations are part of social complex systems,” and the relationships with “their direct customers and suppliers have an immediate impact on when, how, and what organizations learn” (p.11). They are also impacted by societies’ imposed regulations and economic challenges as well as employees’ “family and sociocultural systems of which they are a part … the people and institutions with whom they are joined, and the values that have influenced their development. Learning at each level is increasingly collective and interdependent.” In order for the organization to thrive and remain competitive within such a system, (to coin a phrase): “Every organization can learn; every organization must learn.”

At present, I work with _____ . The Ministries’ Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan is designed to, among other things, “embed diversity objectives and outcomes in OPS policies, programs and services” and “respond to the needs of a diverse population.” At the very least, “responding to the needs of a diverse population”, requires organizations — not only within the public sector — to assume the role of learner. In many ways, this (not so new) paradigm shift is heavily impacted by “waves of social change”. By that I mean the simultaneous movements of the collective thought and modus operandi of people across the globe; across all disciplines, with increased connectivity via the ubiquitous worldwide web and other technologies. Several years ago I overheard someone say: “Geography is now history.” How true. This means that societies — individuals, family structures and organizations — have had to do much rethinking in assessing their own values against those of “others” that come to be thrust upon them.

Does creativity and value pass the organization by, just because it hasn’t yet learned how to appropriate and maximize the contribution made by others? How does the organization become a true learning organization, and to what end?


It is my intention, upon completion of this program, to continue to serve in Public Sector management. However, I intend to speak from a far more influential position, in helping to shape organizational policies toward valuing and maximizing the experience and input of “others”.

I look forward to continuing this conversation as a Ph.D. candidate in the program Workplace Learning and Social Change at OISE/UT. Kindly permit me to thank you for your time in reviewing my application. I do appreciate the enormity of the task in which you are now engaged.





Thursday, 18 March 2010

I have wings! (Cee Dubya)

A former co-worker gave me a postcard shortly before we part ways in 2004. On the cover is a cartoon depiction of a girl in a swing, reaching up, hair blowing in the wind. The caption reads: "She always knew she could fly..." On the inside: "...the question remained, "How high?""

Love that.

(Of course, I still have the card.)

I remembered all this the other day after we'd had quite an exciting Saturday morning - March 13, 2010. My little sis telephoned me and greeted me with stteo: "Congratulations! Your letter to the Editor is the Letter of the Day!!!" Well! I could hardly utter a coherent sentence. I had to tap each key, rather slowly, to type the URL. When I finally got to it, there it was: My letter - a thing of beauty.

We went over it again and then some. We analyzed why the Editor had made the "corrections"/amendments he had; why he had omitted a section of a paragraph as well as the very last line ("Maybe he is trying to protect you," she offered). I called Mommy and asked her to get a copy of The Gleaner with my letter of the day in it. She did. And they - she and Daddy - read it again.

My other sisters offered their congrats and support, too. Yes. It was, truly, one of the best days of my life.

For, you see, as I reminded my lil sis, it was encouraging to me as a suffocating writer. She has a sense of how daunted I feel under the weight of knowing that I am a writer but not writing what I should. It's like I mention in the title and sub-title of another blog: The Vital Air: When you're suffocating, all you can think about is breathing.

I am yet to write my book(s). I don't want to go to my grave with it (them) inside me.
I am yet to write the book with Daddy - worse yet.

So, it's been kinda like that. (See very first entry in this blog.) And then, one day, someone thought that what I had written was worth publishing - and worth the distinction, to boot!

My prayer was short: Oh God, thank you for my wings!

Below is a copy of my letter to the Editor of the Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner. I used the email associated with my pen name, Cee Dubya.

Sidney Bristow was right. "There's no drug like adrenaline!"


The Editor, Sir:

When we appoint certain people to be "entrusted with the responsibility to lead the State's anti-corruption, law-enforcement and prosecutorial institutions" (a quote borrowed from another paper), what are the measures that we put in place to ensure that they are up to the mark, and keep up to the mark, in every way, as they carry out their duties?

Apart from periodic reports - which can say anything you want them to - what do we do to make sure that in every nook and cranny, things are being done in acceptable ways? Sure there are audits, but, again, don't you wonder sometimes how some things get 'overlooked'?

As so many have said, repeatedly, Jamaica has sunk into a rather horrific abyss. The taxpayers would welcome suitable persons in whom to repose their trust. However, when we appoint someone in Jamaica to a position of almost unrestrained power - doesn't matter who it is - we have to remember that that person is human. He or she, like anyone else, has to deal with personal demons. There may be psychological or emotional shortcomings which, as we know, are not usually indicated on a résumé or highlighted during an interview or even have been demonstrated in a 'less powerful' job. Being in a position where he or she doesn't have to answer to anyone, per se, is a pretty powerful one. As Lord Acton said in a letter to Bishop Mandel Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Hope is not a method

Does this mean that we leave these positions of almost unlimited power unfilled because each man/woman has his/her set of weaknesses? Do we throw our hands up, appoint someone who seems to fit the bill, and then hope for the best? Again, hope is not a method.

It's a different take on the whole thing, but, I submit that while we look around for these positions of power to be filled, for the best woman or man to be "entrusted with the responsibility to lead the State's anti-corruption, law-enforcement and prosecutorial institutions", we also institute some kind of mandatory psychological (and other relevant) evaluation to assure ourselves that the incumbent remains fit for the job - in every way! No set date, either. Between a year and 18 months, with no more notice than a day or two, the evaluation is done and the taxpayers get to hear the final result. No. This is not to evaluate them to determine sainthood. But, certainly, however it is crafted, it should help to determine whether power is going to the head, and possibly leading to some 'can't touch dis!' behaviour.

Real transparency

Consider the yet-to-be created Independent Commission of Investigations to be led by a commissioner - pretty powerful position. Generally, those are regarded as 'what I say, goes' positions. But, every public position is answerable to someone and, ultimately, the country's taxpayers. A palatable pronouncement is one thing. Behind the closed doors of the organisation, what is taking place and how? Intrusive? Lack of trust? Perhaps, but, we're talking about real, real transparency. Nothing to hinder the work, just enough to keep us assured.

So, it's not just about who is watching the watchman. Deeper still, are we keeping track of whether he or she is embracing delusions of grandeur under the weight of the powerful position? Who questions him/her? Do media even bother? Listen, danger ahead when people in powerful positions become 'media darlings'. The media only become conduits of messages and clearly lose objectivity as they are essentially dictated to, as they dare not carry out 'investigative journalism' which might topple the status quo. And if the media do get wind that something has gone awry, again, do they bother, or do they just leave it be, because everything else seems to be working and 'no better nuh deh a John shop'?

Things like reports and audits do not necessarily capture, for example, the hell of a milieu to which employees are sometimes subjected, as they endure the psychological and emotional onslaughts borne out of the psychological and mental delusions from occupying an 'almighty' position.

I am, etc.,




Monday, 8 March 2010

Vitamins and puppies

There’s something delightfully refreshing about ...wait for it ... taking your vitamins! Wish it were far more exciting than that. :-)

Thing is, you get that feeling that you’re doing something you ought to; something that contributes to your well-being.

I resumed taking my vits yesterday. Also resumed taking the Calcium tabs. The effect of the Cal tabs are, perhaps, a bit delayed. However, the vits are already kicking in!

Btw, feeing that travel bug again. Would love to go visit with family in April, life spared. Another very important reason? I want Tara’s and Xena’s puppies to get to know me! LOL! Imagine visiting much later in the year, only to be greeted by growls and barks.

I don’t think so.