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Students Head to Denmark to Learn Building Skills

Sept. 14, 2005 — St. Croix residents Almandho Armantrading, Tanya James, Kimberly Rivera and Hugh Toussaint are about to get cold.
Several speakers at a press conference Wednesday at the Fort Frederik Museum in Frederiksted told them Denmark gets cold in November, but the four appeared more excited about the training they would receive over the next two months than the threat of chilly weather.
The four departed Thursday as part of the V.I. Danish Apprenticeship exchange program. The program's goal is "to revitalize tradition building crafts."
Myron Jackson of the State Historic Preservation Office said he believes the four will come back "equipped to be active in the preservation of our historic buildings and also to earn money."
The VIDA program is a collaboration between the Virgin Islands and Denmark to preserve the Danish West Indian style of architecture common in the Virgin Islands. Along with educating young people about building crafts, VIDA hopes to establish permanent workshop facilities at Fort Frederik, research traditional building technologies in the tropics and to exchange knowledge and skills within the field of architecture and building crafts.
The exchange program started in 2001. The first two groups were Danish masons coming to St. Croix to conduct workshops.
In June of last year, Monica Joseph, Dennis Cornelius and Trevor Williams of YouthBuild in the Virgin Islands went to Denmark for training.
In this group, James and Rivera also come from YouthBuild, but the program has been expanded to include Armantrading from St. Croix Educational Complex vocational program and Hugh Toussaint, a YouthBuild instructor. YouthBuild is sponsored by the Virgin Islands Housing Authority.
A whole spectrum of community groups gave support to the program. Nina York of Rotary Club Mid-Island said this program demonstrates that cooperation between the two countries can have a significant, positive effect on the Virgin Islands. As a former resident of Denmark and a resident of the Virgin Islands for the last 29 years, she said the success of this program meant a lot to her.
Other organizations giving support to the project are the St. Croix Foundation, Department of Education, the Children’s Seal of the Virgin Islands, Our Town Frederiksted, the Delegate to Congress office and the State Historic Preservation Office.
The four will receive training at the Odense Technical School. York said the school was located in Funen, the third-largest Danish city, and was more than 100 years old.
She said the participants would also have a few days on which they would visit Copenhagen and Danish cultural sites.
For additional information, call the Historic Preservation Office at 773-1082, ext. 2208.

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