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Community College students host primary school in heritage education course

Community College students host primary school in  heritage education course

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Since 2008, SVG Community College students have experienced their cultural heritage first hand through field trips to the organic farm of Lawrence ‘Captain” Guy.

The visits began as extra curricular activities, and became an Associate Degree Heritage and Environment course delivered by SVGCC’s Art and Design Department in 2011.{{more}} Now in its fourth year, over 55 college students have experienced what has become a regular sight in Top Village Vermont: youths in college uniform climbing the steep hill to Lawrence ‘Captain’ Guy’s wooden house and workshop.

There, they are introduced to their heritage ‘in action’ as preserved by culture guardian Lawrence ‘Captain’ Guy. Classes are held over a two-and-a-half month period where students learn how to organically cultivate and process tubers, herbs and spices and create local dishes from raw ingredients. They listen attentively to Captain Guy’s stories from ‘the old days’ and gain insight into the participatory culture of their fore-parents.

On March 24, the course grew further towards its objectives of preserving cultural practice through experiential education, when the College students hosted eleven eager Grade 5 Sugar Mill Academy students who came up the hill in the pouring rain.

The exchange between students of different age-groups demonstrated the primary aim of the course- to foster the preservation of community practices for sustainable living through intergenerational skills’ exchange. The adolescents were excited to pass on what they have learned, leaving the primary school children hungry for more!

SVGCC Programme Coordinator, Vonnie Roudette described the experience as “Exhilarating! This is an educational model where youths learn naturally though interaction, observation and doing. Throughout the process they document their heritage through written and photographic compilations of recipes and stories, blogs, videos and through experience of learning to work together as they shift in their own awareness from dependence on imported foods to a healthier practice of starting their own gardens and supporting local farmers.”

As in other courses in the Art and Design programme, entrepreneurial linkages are made. Roudette, students and graduates have collaborated to develop a fledgling cottage industry assisting Mr. Guy to generate sales of breadfruit flour, farine, plaintain flour, cassava flour, dried sorrell, coconut oil, spices, herb teas and cocoa.

The response from the youths without exception is enthusiastic as they formulate their own ideas and demonstrate a sense of responsibility to pass what they have learned to the next generation.

“The three courses on our programme involving outdoor education and community exchange are very popular with the students” says Roudette. “This is an effective way to learn about the science and art of food security, wellness, and community culture. It has everything to do with creative processes of observation; research; documentation; positive action.” Student projects culminate in sustainable design solutions to environmental challenges and discussions on “The Art Room,” an interactive radio programme.

On the importance of cultural education to children’s overall development, Roudette states ‘“creativity, compassion and local food are healthy for the brain and create resilience! Hence the course’s subtitle: Cultural Practice for Community Resilience.”

Director of the SVG Community College Nigel Scott reinforced the role of tertiary education in strengthening national identity through the lives of college students by stating: “Vonnie Roudette and her team of facilitators have done an excellent job in adding value to our young students through the Fine Arts, Design and Cultural Communication Associate Degree Programme. The students are stimulated to see the linkages that exist in all facets of their lives and it leaves them with a tremendous respect for their heritage and their understanding of who we are as a people. I am extremely pleased with the outcomes of this programme as it helps our young people to develop their creativity and find their niche in the cultural ecosystem of our Caribbean civilisation. It is another way in which the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College is making a difference in the educational and cultural landscape of our blessed country.”

Vincentians can take pride in SVG Community College for leading the way in offering recognised courses that positively impact creative action, local culture, wellness and economy.