Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - - Kayra Wil­liams

In 2014, hav­ing worked as a se­nior reporter at the STAR for sev­eral years un­der Ni­cole Mc­Don­ald—now the prime min­is­ter's se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer—I took my­self away to pur­sue jour­nal­ism-re­lated stud­ies in Canada. The urge to spread my wings had been over­whelm­ing. On an al­most daily ba­sis, at var­i­ous Toronto shop­ping malls or en route to classes or to part­time jobs, I en­gaged com­plete strangers in con­ver­sa­tion. Some­times their sto­ries were up­lift­ing, some­times not. But al­ways they of­fered lessons. I'd think to my­self, Wow, that would make a great piece. And then I would re­call the sev­eral ef­fec­tive fea­tures I'd writ­ten in my time at the STAR about friends whose lives had been cut short by to­tal strangers; de­prived peo­ple in need of a voice; of­fi­cial govern­ment pol­icy in need of crit­i­cal anal­y­sis. In short, even as I was pur­su­ing stud­ies in ra­dio and TV broad­cast­ing in Toronto, I missed home; missed the Saint Lu­cian at­mos­phere; missed writ­ing what—but for the STAR— would've re­mained un­told sto­ries.

For much of the time I was away I stayed in touch with my for­mer pub­lisher (and men­tor) Rick Wayne. Some­times I put my life on the line by invit­ing him to cri­tique items I'd writ­ten, al­though not for pub­li­ca­tion. He was al­ways en­cour­ag­ing, gen­er­ous with ideas about how par­tic­u­lar pieces might be im­proved. Then I started email­ing him weekly con­tri­bu­tions to the STAR.

One win­ter morn­ing, hav­ing submitted my lat­est piece about a des­per­ate young man who had fi­nally turned to the news­pa­per for as­sis­tance after the po­lice re­fused to take se­ri­ously his per­sis­tently re­ported threats on his life (he was fa­tally shot days after my story was pub­lished), I rushed out of my Toronto apart­ment to catch the bus to classes. I have no doubt the in­tense cold con­trib­uted as much to my de­ci­sion as did the rec­ol­lec­tion of that young man. From all I was read­ing about home, since my de­par­ture it seemed not much had changed for the bet­ter—par­tic­u­larly in terms of crime as well as the lame jus­tice sys­tem. I felt an ir­re­sistible need to get back to my na­tive sun­shine to do what I loved best.

To cut an al­ready lengthy rec­ol­lec­tion, come 2017 and here I am, in hardly the best of times, oc­cu­py­ing the STAR ed­i­tor's desk. I learned so much more while in Canada than what I had planned on. I learned to see as I had never seen be­fore; I ac­quired new eyes, so to speak; new sen­si­bil­i­ties.

Hav­ing ob­served over­seas how well treated are the es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble by reg­u­lar cit­i­zens and the au­thor­i­ties alike, my con­cern for our poor and de­prived is greater than ever. Per­haps most im­por­tantly, I learned there was more to life than daily chas­ing a buck, as vi­tal as that is in these harsh eco­nomic times! I truly am con­vinced I was born to write and that by writ­ing what needs to be writ­ten about, I can help af­fect pos­i­tive change. I hope read­ers of the STAR will have good rea­son to agree.

I am es­pe­cially keen on teach­ing young peo­ple that of­ten what we seek is right be­fore our eyes, right here at home, al­beit un­seen. As Derek Wal­cott has es­poused: in much the same way we train our minds and our bod­ies via spe­cial stud­ies and gym classes, so we must train our eyes to recog­nise hid­den or dis­guised op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Par­tic­u­larly in this age of fake news and con­ve­nient word def­i­ni­tions, I truly in­tend to stand by the STAR's motto: “Bring­ing the truth to light”. Need­less to say, I look for­ward to your as­sis­tance in this re­gard.

Here's hop­ing your year has be­gun, as has mine, on an es­pe­cially pos­i­tive note!

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