Report from the Hermit Reunion 2008

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REPORT OF THE HERMIT REUNION GATHERING
BY RUDY ROBINSON

They came from the USA and England, they came from St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. James and Kingston to gather at the Iberostar hotel to do what hermits do best, lyme!

A small but enthusiastic bunch of hermits spent Saturday July 24th eating, drinking, reminiscing, and setting policy for the proposed hermit association and the way forward for future hermit reunions and gatherings.

OPPOTUNITY LOST
The original 3 day format for the reunion had to be abandoned due to low registration. There are over 2,000 hermits world wide spanning the four decades since Canada Hall opened. We were in direct contact with about 500 of them, most of whom were in contact with many other hermits not in our database.  The reasons given for non-attendance in order of frequency were as follows:

(1)   Prior commitments

(2)   Too Expensive

(3)   Would not know anybody

(4)    Did not hear about it in time

(5)   Not interested

This is a pity as a reunion like this should have been seen as an investment, not just an opportunity to “have fun”, and begs the question “Do hermits understand the significance of Networking?”  The reunion was styled on similar reunions for other professionals like lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. which are always well attended.  Many of the younger engineers for example, missed out on a chance to meet senior engineers (both local and overseas based) in their field of expertise, who are always looking for new talent, in a relaxed atmosphere that did not require the formal presentation of resumes and interviews.

 


HERMIT ASSOCIATION

Based on the list of names submitted via the Internet by numerous hermits, a vote was conducted by those present and the name: “CANADA HALL HERMITS ASSOCIATION” was selected.  Membership would be automatic for “Former residents of Canada Hall, UWI, St. Augustine campus”.  In addition, chapters from various countries / special interest groups can be formed.  Term limits of two years were imposed on some of the executive positions. These include the positions of president and vice-president, treasurer and secretary.

The executive for the association would consist of the follow positions:

·         President

·         Vice-President

·         Treasurer

·         Secretary

·         P.R.O.

·         Fund Raising

·         Era Representatives *

·         Chapter Presidents

*It was felt that, because no hermit stayed on the hermitage for more than four years, and a “generation of hermits” would last between  8 to 10 years, an “era rep” would be assigned to the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s 90’s and 00’s.

It was also agreed that the association should be formed in the USA because of the tax, fund raising, and group benefits that could be derived there. This will be undertaken by hermit Michael Gardener on his return to Boston. No officers were elected as it was felt that there were not enough persons present. Michael however, will need to act in the position of president in order to form the association and may call on members as he sees fit. The association will seek affiliation with the St. Augustine Past Students Association, the St. Augustine Engineering Association and any other relevant bodies. Other matters to do with the structure, by-laws and operation of the association, were deferred to a later date.

HERMIT DATABASE

Some hermits expressed confusion, as on their emails they only saw 25 names listed and only a few of their close friends. This was deliberately done as yahoo would not allow all 350+ names to be added to one email, so the list was broken down into alphabetical groups of 25. Similarly, some hermits had their email systems set to reject emails sent to more than a fixed numbers of persons for SPAM reasons. In addition to the 350 email addresses, there were 200+ hermits in 4 groups on Facebook. The entire database will be given to the Association as part of its membership contact list.

TRINIDAD REUNION

The next reunion has been scheduled for Trinidad and is to be a major reunion. The format for the reunion was debated and the one used in Montego Bay was mentioned. However, concerns were raised over the affordability, as most hermits reside in Jamaica and would need to find money for airfare, hotel, meals & transportation as well as event fees.  To have a reunion lasting less than 3 days made little sense to persons travelling from overseas.  The timing of the event would be either summer 2009, Carnival 2010 or summer 2010. More feedback from other hermits would need to be sought before any decisions could be made on this reunion.

SUMMARY

The interest shown in the build up to this year’s reunion was fantastic with dozens of hermits debating who their hall chairmen were, and even more participating in the HERMITPEDIA exercise. Up to two days before the reunion, we were still adding persons to our email list. For those that attended the reunion, the only disappointment was the overall attendance as the hotel, food and ambiance were excellent, and the camaraderie was great. New friends were made and old friends reunited, some having not seen each other for 25 years! On the down side, memorabilia like the custom ivory bone Hermit dominoes, Hermit playing cards, polo shirts and caps had to be cancelled.

Over the next few weeks, an online survey will be conducted seeking further feedback from the wider hermit community on several matters.  Hermit Desmond Jacas has promised to give me the name for a professional website where hermits can further increase their network of contacts. The website works in a similar manner to Facebook or Myspace, but it is not a social network. I urge all to join.