MARIGOT–A group of university students from New Orleans has spent two weeks immersing themselves in the cultural and social aspects of the island for their cultural anthropology courses under the guidance of Tulane University’s Assistant Director for the Centre for Public Studies Myriam Huet, PhD.
It is the second consecutive year that Huet has brought a student group to the island for the same project. Ranging in ages from 18 to 24, the students hail from different areas of the USA. The short but intensive project has seen the group visiting heritage sites, local archives, meeting local artists, personalities and elected officials, to gain an understanding of the history, culture and social reality of the island.
Each morning the students have been working in the market gardens in Bellevue under the supervision of Ras Touza Jah Bash to learn about cultivating plants, fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. The afternoons are set aside for various activities.
“It’s a service learning programme which is integrated with a course aspect,” Huet explained. “The students have readings that we discuss daily, and they turn in reflection essays and research methodology exercises. I incorporate different methods and exercises, because it is a cultural anthropology course. It gives them a sense of qualitative data collection.”
One of the visits had been to the Territorial Archives to look at the registers for pre-emancipation, which prompted discussion on comparisons between pre and post emancipation.
“That aligned really well with the readings that were assigned and discussions we had about history and the Fort Louis tour we were given by Archives Director Stéphanie Dargaud and her assistant Audrey Claxton,” Huet added. “We’ve been learning about the island from different angles and different voices.”
The students attended the recent Abolition of Slavery ceremony, the Book Fair workshops, visited Loterie Farm, Anguilla and met artists Ruby Bute and Roland Richardson, as well as President of University of St. Martin Francio Guadelupe, and Rhoda Arrindell. Meetings were also arranged with President of the Collectivité Daniel Gibbs and the High Priest of Solidarity Rastafari.
Students remarked on how enriched they were from the experience in St. Martin. They were particularly struck by the strong sense of identity, family ties and social connections among St. Martiners.
Myriam Huet is no stranger to St. Martin, having lived here for a year and a half when she was researching for a thesis on Solidarity Rastafari organisation and has always remained in contact with Jah Bash.