Our study abroad experience in Trinidad and Tobago was very enriching because we attended lectures at the University of West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. This experience allowed us to be students at another campus in another country. Each lecture was presented with culture and history from Caribbean perspective that enhanced our academic knowledge the social, political, and cultural dynamics in regards to people of African descent.
The first lecture we attended focused on the Indian Diaspora here in Trinidad and this lecture was presented by Dr. Sherry-Ann Singh. In this lecture we learned more about how the Indian population was established and how they adapted to society. The Indians from East India were mistreated by European settlers. Indians began their life in the society of Trinidad as agricultural laborers under a contract to work on sugar and, later coca plantations for a specified period usually within five years for males and three for females.
The second lecture we attended presented an intriguing concept which was British Abolitionism this was presented by Dr. Geilen Matthews. We really enjoyed this lecture because she spoke with confidence and wisdom. In this lecture we learned more about why abolitionism served as way for the British to enhance their economic and moral interests. One of the most notable leaders of the abolitionism in Britain was Granville Sharpe he was given the title of being “The Grandfather of British Abolition.” His life and works were very intriguing because Granville Sharpe used all of his financial and political resources to help African slaves gain their civil rights in English society in addition to fighting legal battles for African slaves he provided the slaves with health care assistance from his brother who has a prominent doctor.
The third lecture we attended was presented by Dr. Claudius Fergus the content was used from his book Revolutionary Emancipation which was one of our readings for this course. Dr. Fergus posed two important arguments which were the 1760 rebellion in Jamaica, which was Tacky’s War, one of the largest and most destructive rebellion’s of enslaved Africans. Another important revolution that occurred was the Haitian Revolution which provided rationale for abolition and reform of the colonial system in the Caribbean. Dr. Fergus suggested that the British were afraid of a revolution occurring in Trinidad therefore reform was implemented. One of the strongest sentiments we learned in this lecture was that slavery in the Caribbean began with resistance, resistance was a natural reaction. In addition to resistance violence was revolutionary and revolution implies violence as a tool of change.
Today we had the opportunity to complete a service learning project here in Trinidad we arrived at the Tuna Puna Government Secondary School. As a group were asked to sit down with high school students and encourage them to pursue a college education. The experience was very rewarding because the students shared a common long term goal; which was to attend college and pursue careers they were passionate about. In addition to establishing their careers they want to return home to Trinidad and rebuild their communities with education and financial resources. Even though the students were young they had concrete goals and they were very articulate. We were able to have both intellectual and personal conversions with the students the conversation content was diverse topics ranged from family dynamics to politics.
One girl we spoke with was named Nicola Carter she is fourteen years old; Nicola aspires to be a heart surgeon and plans on pursuing her college education at Harvard University. Nicola’s passion for medicine and health care began when one of her best friends became very ill and provided remedies to heal her friends pain. It was very inspiring to see the value of education and future endeavors at such a young and these are the things that guided the conversations and interactions with the students.
The purpose of this conference is to present students with an opportunity to connect and understand the perspective of students that are members of under represented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Arabic, etc on the campus of Western Kentucky University. This conference will provide students with resources needed to succeed in academics, develop networking skills, while enhancing personal growth.
Everyone has at least one fear that they feel like they can never get over and that’s no different for the officers of the Uniquely Underrepresented Leadership Conference. Fears ranged from jumping off a rock into the Argyle waterfall in Tobago to fear of heights. These fears served as a hurdle for students to accomplish all they could, but they pushed their fears to the side and faced them head on.
Eppiphanie said she was scared to jump into the waterfall because she had the fear of the unknown.
“The process was quite intimidating which was climbing the rocks and the hardest part was jumping off the rock,” she said.
She pushed her fears to the side and jumped in. The result of overcoming her fear was fun and liberating. By facing her fears it will help her to step out of her comfort zone and go after what she really wants rather it be a competitive job or title.
Eppiphanie was not the only one with fear sanding between her and her full potential.
Jasmine, co-chair of the URLC serves as a liaison to students and university administrators. She overcame her fear of heights by zip lining. This experience gave her the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone and overcame her fear by taking the initiative to.
Jasmine reminded herself that she was capable of overcoming her fears. During the process, she had to motivate other students and encourage herself to remain positive. By motivating others and pushing herself she will lead other students to great leadership positions.
1. Trinidad has an asphalt lake called Pitch Lake, which is made up of natural gases and minerals
2. Carnival is bigger in Trinidad than Tobago based on their size.
3. Cashews come from a fruit and the cashew is actually a seed
4. Pitch Lake has natural fires that happen every dry season because of the mixture the sun and gases.
5. According to Angostura Factory their rum started off as a pain medicine.
6. The five ingredients for Angostura Rum are imported separately and are secret.
7. The Angostura Factory labels don’t have to go through customs because they’re so traditional.
8. Fort King George, Tobago’s preserved historical site, has canons from World War II.
9. College students don’t have to pay for school and their Student Government officers get paid.
10. Gasparee Cave is naturally made and there are myths in the cave. For example, if you look closely around the cave you can see Michael Jackson, a man’s face with leprosy and more.
One of the students is focusing on Trini food ways.
Check out some of our food experiences so far:
Day One – salted cod, fattoush, and natural salt on mango tree leaves
Day Two – veggie gyro, fried plantains, and natural asphalt
Day Three – shark, mango chutney, cocoa pods, coconut candy, and spicy mango
Stay posted for more culinary adventures.
According to the Webster dictionary the term “Negro” is defined as a member of a race of humankind native to the continent of Africa and usually classified according to physical features such as dark pigmentation. In the American context many African Americans become defensive when this term is used to describe their racial identity especially older African -Americans that endured racial discrimination under the Jim Crow laws.
At the University of West Indies we were introduced to a student named Danni and she gave us a tour of the university. During the campus tour we asked Danni questions about race within the social context in Trinidad. She explained to us that people of African descent in Trinidad preferred to be called “Negro” instead of “Black” when they are asked to identify their racial identity; in addition to this form of racial identity she emphasized that many natives of Trinidad have a strong sense of nationalism. Many people of African descent in Trinidad prefer not be identified as a “Black” person. Everyone in Trinidad identifies themselves as Trinidadians instead of African- Trinidadians or Indian-Trinidadians. This piece of information resonated with us as students because in our native country America race is an important yet sensitive subject because structural racism has impacted our lives in various ways. Our tour guide Danni was surprised to learn that we African-Americans become offended when they are identified as “Negroes” in the racial context although after we explained the history behind the word in the American context she appreciated being able to understand this concept from our perspective.
Brief History on the Steel Pan
During the 1800s, the inhabitants of Trinidad had been participating in a street carnival brought to the Caribbean island by the French. When the freed slaves (West Indian) slaves joined the festivities, they could not afford the conventional instruments, so they used African drums, the instruments of their ancestors, and then created percussion bands made up of bamboo joints cut from the plant. The “Tamboo Bamboo” bands were rhythmic ensembles that provided the accompaniment for the masquerades in the annual parade.
After attending our lecture on British Abolitionism in at the University of West Indies; we got the opportunity to learn more about the musical culture of the Caribbean. We received a private lesson on the steel pan drum; in addition to learning how to play the instrument we were also taught how to read music. We were taught a popular folk song called “Tamboulay.” In the beginning, it was a challenge at first to learn how to play the music and melodies of the folk music, but eventually as a group we learned how to play the song.