Ezbai Francis is a 23-year old-resident of Vieux Fort and a teacher at the Micoud Secondary School. She is recognized for her involvement in youth organisations, and has taken part in the National Youth Parliament and National Debate competitions. Recently she was appointed to the post of CARICOM Youth Ambassador; she represents Saint Lucia at various CARICOM Youth events and relays the outcome of those discussions to Saint Lucian youth.
Q: How did you become involved in youth parliament and debate?
A: I was raised in a home where I could speak freely as long as I remained respectful, and that translated to me always wanting to speak first in class. This was further cultured with more public speaking opportunities. Eventually, at A Level, I was introduced to the art of debate and my passion for it began to grow. From there, a former lecturer recommended that I be given an opportunity to audition to participate in the National Youth Parliament.
Q: Describe how these experiences have benefitted you as a young person.
A: This type of exposure has changed my perspective on what leadership is. I used to believe a leader had to be someone with power or social standing, like a minister or a manager. Through my experiences in youth work I came to understand that a leader is someone with the passion to inspire change and stand up for what they believe in. I became more selfless and empathetic as you can never remain selfish if you are aware of issues that affect the youth. It also boosted my confidence, since I grew more courage to speak out when I found it necessary.
Q: You were recently appointed CARICOM Youth Ambassador (CYA). How did you gain this position, and how has it made you feel?
A: I originally applied for the post last year with encouragement from my friends and family. The interview process was rigorous and it wasn’t an easy task to justify why I deserved the position whilst sitting in front of a panel of very experienced youth leaders from across the country. I did not receive the post last year but, through God’s graces, I was selected for the position this year. Naturally, I am anxious. Nevertheless, I am very ecstatic and ready for the responsibility of representing Saint Lucia. I am determined to fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my ability, and leave feeling satisfied.
Q: Briefly explain your responsibilities as CARICOM Youth Ambassador.
A: The CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme (CYP) was established as a means of allowing the youth of fellow CARICOM countries to increase the consciousness of other local and regional youth on CARICOM issues and priorities through active education, and to incorporate the views of youth in making or changing policies and programmes that affect us. Many times, the government seeks for solutions to youth issues outside of the youthful community, when the youth are the ones who hold the best solutions to change.
Q: You are scheduled to visit Belize in November to attend the World Youth Conference. What do you expect to gain from it?
A: My trip to the CYP will be my first out-of-state event as the new CYA. My hope is that I can successfully contribute to the sessions and discussions that will be hosted under the theme “Globally Running to 2030, Becoming Sustainably Strong”. I hope to obtain relevant information on sustainable development for Saint Lucia.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What are your goals?
A: I used to see myself in school studying to become a pharmacist or forensic scientist. However, through teaching and constantly working with young children, I am now drawn to new avenues in child or forensic psychology.
Q: Apart from debate and your responsibilities as CARICOM Youth Ambassador, what other things do you like to participate in?
A: As a teacher, I love engaging my students in academic activities like science fairs and supporting them in sporting activities. To date, my team and I have been successful for two consecutive years at both the National Science Fair and National Lower School Quiz. I am hoping to repeat this at my new school this year.
Q: What is one random fact about you?
A: I am never without the colour purple – even my hair is purple!