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UVI HUMANITIES FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS V.I. DIVERSITY

March 29, 2004 — Like a pot of kallaloo soup brimming with greens, meat and seafood, the start of the University of the Virgin Islands Humanities Festival 2004 provided event goers with a wonderful sampling of the islands' diverse cultural "flavors."
"Celebrating Cultural Diversity Virgin Islands-Style" was the theme of Sunday night’s program on the St. Croix campus, as more than 400 Virgin Islanders and visitors crowded under the arches of the cafetorium, dodging the much-welcomed spring rains.
Despite the weather, the crowd seemed eager to enjoy the smorgasbord of dance, singing and storytelling. It was just a good old-fashioned gathering of ethnic groups that call the Virgin Islands their home.
Shirley de Chabert-Highfield, the event coordinator, told the audience: "As we were putting this program together, we reflected on the many cultures of St. Croix." Later, UVI's St. Croix campus chancellor, Jennifer Jackson, and her partner led the faculty in a two-step dance down the center aisle to the sounds of Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights.
In an interview before the program, Jackson said that the night’s event was a celebration of the culture of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. "Tonight is not just about dance," she said. "As you know, quelbe music is our music. We are giving our people a taste of Caribbean art forms. We are placing this in an academic context so that we can focus on the evolution of these art forms and understand the commonalities of our culture, minus the political implications that may have separated us."
Jackson said the festival represents the university’s commitment to fostering and promoting the arts in the Caribbean. "We are all one people in the Caribbean," she said. "We can’t make it together in the Virgin Islands if we don’t collaborate."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed a bill into law January designating quelbe as the official traditional music of the territory. Jackson said another bill is being prepared to designate quadrille as the territory's official dance.
Sunday’s program — sponsored by Sunny Isle Shopping Center with grant support from the V.I. Humanities Council — consisted of Crucian storytelling; American Indian spirituality; dance and sari fashions from India; folk songs from the Philippines; heritage dancers from St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Croix; Middle Eastern belly dancing; and Hispanic folklore from Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Arnold Highfield, a linguist and retired UVI Caribbean history professor, set the tone as he greeted every group in their native languages, including Spanish, Hindi and Papamiento. He told the English-speaking members of the audience that he left them for last. Speaking in Crucian dialect, Highfield said, "Leh we all cum tugehdah," which he then translated as "Let’s all work together."
The cross-section of ages and races in the crowd ranged from an 8-month-old Filipino baby girl to octogenarians and longtime Frederiksted residents Delta Dorsch and Marta Suarez. "This is really diversity. It feels good," Dorsch said as she offered a brief history on the art of storytelling passed on to her by her uncle, who entertained his neighbors under a Tamarind tree.
"We had no radios," Dorsch, a former St. Croix educator, said. "We had no TV. When I was growing up, we really, really knew the meaning of 'It takes a village to raise a child.'"
David Burnett of the Rose Bud Sioux Tribe greeted the audience in his native language and spoke of the symbols that were a part of his people’s ancestry. He cited the legend his father told him about the White Buffalo Calf Woman, who brought the Native Americans the peace pipe and the medicine wheel.
"Those symbols are used to remember all the important things," Burnett said. "I am a part of that sacred circle of life. Every morning at the dawn of the new day we have a choice. She brought us the knowledge of how we should live our life."
"I would like to know more about the different types of folk dances and attire worn by each group," Semoya Phillips, an 11th grader at Education Complex who participated in her school's dance program, said. "They all wear madras, tie their heads and have similar blends of music, but I would like to know more about its history."
Later in the evening, Sofronio Navarette, an elementary school principal, and Dr. Francesca Alonzo, a pediatrician, gracefully hopped to the Tinikling, a bamboo stick dance representing the egret dancing through the reeds in the Philippines.
CASH, a quartet of UVI students of Celtic, Arabic and Spanish descent, mesmerized the crowd with a jazzy mariachi selection. Later, an 18 members of the Music in Motion dance company added excitement to the evening as they ruffled their lace-embellished madras skirts with a graceful flair.
The 3rd annual, weeklong festival also will include appearances by storyteller Paul Keens Douglas, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, and the Arthur A. Richards Junior High School Steel Orchestra; poetry readings; and a student literary conference.
All activities are open to the public, and most are free.
Marvin Williams, an assistant professor of English at UVI and editor of "The Caribbean Writer," an annual anthology of Caribbean literary works, said he hopes that "people realize the rich diversity of V.I. culture."

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March 29, 2004 -- Like a pot of kallaloo soup brimming with greens, meat and seafood, the start of the University of the Virgin Islands Humanities Festival 2004 provided event goers with a wonderful sampling of the islands' diverse cultural "flavors."
"Celebrating Cultural Diversity Virgin Islands-Style" was the theme of Sunday night’s program on the St. Croix campus, as more than 400 Virgin Islanders and visitors crowded under the arches of the cafetorium, dodging the much-welcomed spring rains.
Despite the weather, the crowd seemed eager to enjoy the smorgasbord of dance, singing and storytelling. It was just a good old-fashioned gathering of ethnic groups that call the Virgin Islands their home.
Shirley de Chabert-Highfield, the event coordinator, told the audience: "As we were putting this program together, we reflected on the many cultures of St. Croix." Later, UVI's St. Croix campus chancellor, Jennifer Jackson, and her partner led the faculty in a two-step dance down the center aisle to the sounds of Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights.
In an interview before the program, Jackson said that the night’s event was a celebration of the culture of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. "Tonight is not just about dance," she said. "As you know, quelbe music is our music. We are giving our people a taste of Caribbean art forms. We are placing this in an academic context so that we can focus on the evolution of these art forms and understand the commonalities of our culture, minus the political implications that may have separated us."
Jackson said the festival represents the university’s commitment to fostering and promoting the arts in the Caribbean. "We are all one people in the Caribbean," she said. "We can’t make it together in the Virgin Islands if we don’t collaborate."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed a bill into law January designating quelbe as the official traditional music of the territory. Jackson said another bill is being prepared to designate quadrille as the territory's official dance.
Sunday’s program -- sponsored by Sunny Isle Shopping Center with grant support from the V.I. Humanities Council -- consisted of Crucian storytelling; American Indian spirituality; dance and sari fashions from India; folk songs from the Philippines; heritage dancers from St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Croix; Middle Eastern belly dancing; and Hispanic folklore from Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Arnold Highfield, a linguist and retired UVI Caribbean history professor, set the tone as he greeted every group in their native languages, including Spanish, Hindi and Papamiento. He told the English-speaking members of the audience that he left them for last. Speaking in Crucian dialect, Highfield said, "Leh we all cum tugehdah," which he then translated as "Let’s all work together."
The cross-section of ages and races in the crowd ranged from an 8-month-old Filipino baby girl to octogenarians and longtime Frederiksted residents Delta Dorsch and Marta Suarez. "This is really diversity. It feels good," Dorsch said as she offered a brief history on the art of storytelling passed on to her by her uncle, who entertained his neighbors under a Tamarind tree.
"We had no radios," Dorsch, a former St. Croix educator, said. "We had no TV. When I was growing up, we really, really knew the meaning of 'It takes a village to raise a child.'"
David Burnett of the Rose Bud Sioux Tribe greeted the audience in his native language and spoke of the symbols that were a part of his people’s ancestry. He cited the legend his father told him about the White Buffalo Calf Woman, who brought the Native Americans the peace pipe and the medicine wheel.
"Those symbols are used to remember all the important things," Burnett said. "I am a part of that sacred circle of life. Every morning at the dawn of the new day we have a choice. She brought us the knowledge of how we should live our life."
"I would like to know more about the different types of folk dances and attire worn by each group," Semoya Phillips, an 11th grader at Education Complex who participated in her school's dance program, said. "They all wear madras, tie their heads and have similar blends of music, but I would like to know more about its history."
Later in the evening, Sofronio Navarette, an elementary school principal, and Dr. Francesca Alonzo, a pediatrician, gracefully hopped to the Tinikling, a bamboo stick dance representing the egret dancing through the reeds in the Philippines.
CASH, a quartet of UVI students of Celtic, Arabic and Spanish descent, mesmerized the crowd with a jazzy mariachi selection. Later, an 18 members of the Music in Motion dance company added excitement to the evening as they ruffled their lace-embellished madras skirts with a graceful flair.
The 3rd annual, weeklong festival also will include appearances by storyteller Paul Keens Douglas, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, and the Arthur A. Richards Junior High School Steel Orchestra; poetry readings; and a student literary conference.
All activities are open to the public, and most are free.
Marvin Williams, an assistant professor of English at UVI and editor of "The Caribbean Writer," an annual anthology of Caribbean literary works, said he hopes that "people realize the rich diversity of V.I. culture."

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice... click here.