Community Engagment

15 Mar

Wow. Time is really starting to fly by down here. Between species I.D. exams, midterms, community service and preparing for spring break which starts next Wednesday, the last couple of weeks have gone by in a flash. It’s hard to believe I’ve been down here for more than a month already, it seems like just yesterday I was stepping off the plane. If I have taken anything away from this trip abroad so far, it would be that the first week is by far the toughest, and after that time goes by way too swiftly.

But anyways, on to the good stuff! I mentioned community engagement already, and besides the usual swim lessons, English courses, and shore cleanup that we participate in every Saturday, we have gotten the chance in the last week or two to hang with the locals in a setting that isn’t the center. Wednesday of last week, we all went to a church service for several hours, and some of my fellow students performed “Hallelujah” (I think that’s the name of the song, not quite sure), and did a really great job. There was one hiccup when Jane, who had spent five minutes tuning her violin, started to play and her strings snapped off right at the beginning. She’s had the violin for over 5 years, so pretty unfortunate. Talk about bad timing! The other two students, Danny, who plays the guitar, and Brittany, who does all of the singing, went ahead with the song anyways and still sounded pretty fantastic.

After they got off stage, we were treated to a dance routine by one of the elementary students, and were then preached to by a guest speaker who had come over from Jamaica I believe, although he was a native of South Caicos. It was one moment where the cultural differences really reared their head; I had never heard anyone preach like that before, except maybe when I’m flipping through the channels back home and I pass by an evangelical station. He talked for a good 45 minutes, and about halfway through, after the novelty had worn off, I began to feel really uncomfortable. Lots of yelling, lots of amens. I don’t go to church a lot back home, so I was really unprepared for the intensity of his sermon. A lot of the SFS students who go to church told me they were pretty overwhelmed by it as well, so at least I wasn’t alone. Not every cultural barrier you encounter abroad is going to be a great experience, but it was still interesting to say the least.

Last Monday was cultural day on the island, which was celebrated by a big bash at the Regatta with foods from the United States, Italy, Jamaica and TCI. A lot of the local people got up on stage to perform dance numbers; one of the more entertaining ones was done by a group of elementary school kids who got up on stage dressed as grim reapers and then danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Awesome. The most memorable award, though, goes to a schoolteacher who got up on stage and danced for a good five minutes, right in front the kids she sees every day!

That’s all for now, until next time.

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