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Connecting with students

tpetstmaryscolumbiauniversitySt. Mary’s Primary is one of the main recipients this year of an educational enhancement programme by first generation Caribbean descendants.

Eleven volunteers of the Caribbean Students Association of Columbia University in the United States are in Barbados for an eight-day trip to learn more about the education system and conduct a service project mainly with the St. Mary’s students.

Kimberley Small, Head of the There Is Hope Campaign, which is part of the CSA’s activities, explained that this initiative was started in 2009, and each year since then the Caribbean descendants from the association have visited a Caribbean country to carry out a project.

The project, she said, changes but certain tenets remain the same, namely assisting students or youth in the particular countries and also educating themselves as descendants about the respective places.

While this was the first time they did not have a Bajan descendant among the group, Small said the trip had been largely educational and satisfying thus far, because in addition to conducting identity classes titled Who Am I? with the St. Mary’s students, they were also able to visit the Erdiston Special Unit as well, which was one of her own core areas of interest.

“I am really interested in special education and that was one of the reasons we came to Barbados because it has done so much for children with disabilities. So it was really great speaking with the principal, Ms [Kay] Sargeant and interacting with the children there. The group really enjoyed it.

“As well, we have been talking with the children here at St. Mary’s about who they are, what is their self-image, which we consider really important as well for young children. We want to connect with the students individually, while also learning about our own history in the Caribbean,” she said. The campaign, which they refer to as an “alternative spring project”, she said had aims of combating colonialism, advocating positive self-image and framing education in a context of success for Caribbean students.

All of the volunteers she said were first generation Caribbean descendants and were here with facilitation by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

On Friday, the CSA group is supposed to conduct a field trip to the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus where they will explore a number of topics as they interact with students from Cave Hill as well the St. Mary’s Primary School on topics including Who Am I?, Environmental Sustainability and Preparing for Success. (LB)

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