CaribWorks IT team, Minister Stuart Johnson, Cruise Director of Carnival Horizon Mike Pack, USM Dean of Academics Rolinda Carter, and USM staff.
PHILIPSBURG–Carnival Corporation on Thursday donated a computer server equipment package valued at more than US $31,000 to the financially strapped University of St. Martin (USM).
The institution said it is the first significant corporate donation since Hurricane Irma. The servers arrived in the country aboard Carnival Horizon cruise ship and were delivered to USM marking the beginning of a new partnership. USM officials are said to be happy with the donation, as old servers are failing. “This very generous donation on behalf of Carnival Corporation comes to us at a crucial time,” said USM president Antonio Carmona.
“Since September 2017, we have been going through a difficult time and our computers and servers are running old, as are much of our other equipment which is used to prepare St. Maarten’s future teachers, business leaders and professionals. For this we are eternally grateful,” he added.
Cruise Director of Carnival Horizon Mike Pack, Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson, USM Dean of Academics Rolinda Carter, and USM board member Sharine Daniel.
Collaboration between the two entities began last July when 10 USM Education, Business and Hospitality students visited Carnival Princess on the initiative of USM faculty member Sharon Freiburg and Carnival Vice President for Global Ports and Caribbean Government Relations Marie McKenzie.
“This was a great opportunity for students to learn and see our ship first-hand and now we are honoured to be able to make a difference in the lives of students at USM, especially after the devastating results of Hurricane Irma,” McKenzie said.
“We are always looking for ways to assist and give back to our port of call communities, especially within the education system,” Cruise Director of Carnival Horizon Mike Pack said.
“The Carnival Horizon team and the Carnival family, both on board and ashore, are so grateful that we can do our part in supporting the wonderful students in St. Maarten by providing the tools for fostering educational growth and development. Investing towards higher education is an excellent opportunity to advance in the country’s continued recovery. As USM is the only university on the island serving the local population, it is very important for us to ensure its longevity. After meeting with Dr. Carmona, we agreed that computer servers were an essential resource for both students and faculty alike.”
Carmona is enthusiastic about their future partnership. Alluding to data provided by the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) that cruise ship tourists are becoming less interested in retail and more attracted to onshore services; including tours and cultural activities Carmona said, “we hope to carry out more research in this area; hopefully our students can unveil this emerging niche as part of their studies.”
McKenzie sees potential in linking business and hospitality students with cruise related internships or future mentorships for the multi-ethnic and multilingual student body.
“Carnival Cruise line has been a key stakeholder in the Cruise Tourism Industry on St. Maarten for many years. They continue to show their commitment to our destination, and we were happy to see their quick return to St. Maarten after we were devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Coming from the field of education, and as an USM Alum, the University will always have a special place in my heart.
“Cruise tourism, tourism in general and education go hand-in-hand and are equally important for the sustainable redevelopment of St. Maarten. Therefore, especially with my vocation in education, I am excited to witness the very generous donation that Carnival Cruise Line has made to the USM. This will help to strengthen the university’s position as it rebuilds and expands its reach to shine its bright light illuminating the pathway to the future for students from even more islands in the Caribbean,” TEATT Minister Stuart Johnson said, thanking Carnival Cruise for the donation.