by Latoya Burnham
It’s hard to find the words necessary to describe the couple that represents St. Michael. The only thought that comes immediately to mind is that these two mean business, which is perhaps fitting to the setting as we sit for a chat in the business capital of the country — Bridgetown.
Parish Ambassadors Rasheed Drakes and Taneish Springer are the youngest couple I have met yet, both at 20 years old. But for a pair so young, the image they leave you with can only impress.
Rasheed is the Acting President of the United Youth Leaders of Barbados, and very active from school days in youth service. He currently works with the National Council on Substance Abuse as a drug education officer and has dreams, and fully intends to pursue a career as a police officer. Taneish is a student of Theatre Arts at the Barbados Community College, who wants to go on to study both acting and psychiatric nursing, even while she holds down a job with DB Productions.
Rasheed first came on board the St. Michael Parish Independence Committee to lend some assistance with public relations, but continued encouragement to join the programme as an ambassador finally took hold.
“They encouraged me to get involved but to be honest I was a little hesitant. I had to decide if I would do it because it is a lot of work,” he said, adding that the toughest part was juggling other activities with his duties as a new ambassador.
For Taneish, a largely backstage hand in numerous productions, it was a matter of looking on and realising that the programme seemed like it could offer her some additional experience.
“I like acting, performing. I was working backstage last year when I saw the ambassadors presenting. It seemed like the programme could give you a voice so I decided that I wanted to be a voice for young people. I decided to get involved,” said the 20-year-old lass.
When the two found out they were partners in the programme, they got on the phone to each other, so by the time they met officially they felt they had known each other for a while.
It was also the chance to meet a host of new people who appealed to both. Taneish, who confesses to being a “home body”, said beyond the different activities she’s involved in, this got her a bit out of her comfort zone and associating with a broader circle of people.
“It was about meeting new people and seeing the different ways in which we all approach life. It was also a chance to do something for the community and get to know about the people in the different communities as well. It’s the kind of opportunity that you might not get a second chance to have,” said Rasheed about what appealed to him about the experience.
The fact that he got to go on a cook-out with all the other ambassadors to Batt’s Rock, was only another piece of icing on the cake.
When it comes to giving back to the community though, both are passionate about their project The Carpenter’s Son: Building A Stronger Nation, in which they have recognised the contribution of three persons who played a significant role in nation building and development.
“We conducted a survey asking people to nominate persons in the areas of sports, youth and culture and we used that as the core to select the persons we would honour from St. Michael. We were also able to develop some road tennis courts in the parish,” Rasheed said.
“All of it was a new challenge. Some of the sessions we have been through were really developmental. It’s the kind of programme that helps and I encourage all youth to get involved. You get to go to a lot of places and learn a lot more about your country,” he added.
Taneish too was heavy with praise for the programme, encouraging others to make the decision to get involved next year. Her experience has been similar to Rasheed’s in terms of how much exposure and development she has garnered from the numerous training sessions. As someone who has her eye on a career in performing arts, the various speaking engagements and the opportunities to be on a stage have been a plus.
“I remember when I was young, like primary school, I told my childhood friends we should put on a show. We got acts together, a PA system and we put on a performance for the neighbourhood. I love the idea of becoming someone else when you are acting and the response after you do well,” said the Bayville, St. Michael girl.
The focus now is one the biggest performance of the entire programme, the Spirit of the Nation Gala, which both ambassadors promised they would be pulling out all the stops to secure the top spot. firstname.lastname@example.org