As a part of growing up on a small Caribbean island, many Caymanians have had the chance to spend some time overseas, be it through travel, working at sea or going to school in a place like Canada.
But even for the most adventurous souls, expanding their horizons in the Great White North is reassuringly easier when friendly faces from home are within reach.
That’s where Caymanians Tracey Forbes, Donovon Kellyman and Kristina Wright, all students at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada come in.
The Caribbean community at Trinity accounts for 20 per cent of the school’s student population and is represented by students from 11 Caribbean nations, including six from Cayman.
Some of these students came together a few years ago to form CaribCouncil, a group which promotes Caribbean cultural heritage and current affairs.
Along with their fellow students, Tracey, Donovon and Kristina are committed to providing support for CaribCouncil’s members by encouraging academic excellence, self awareness, unity, responsibility, creativity and good government.
‘We recognize that as students who have been granted outstanding opportunities, it is our responsibility to use our learning not only to better ourselves but ultimately and more importantly to the betterment our society,’ said Grade 12 student Tracey, who is the Finance Director for the group.
‘At the same time, we want to make it easy to stay connected to our culture.’
All three students are enthusiastic about their plans to return to Cayman once they’re done school, as they see this sojourn as a chance to gain new knowledge that will help them contribute to Cayman’s future.
Tracey is grateful for the opportunity to study overseas in her ambition to become a lawyer.
‘Going abroad lets you meet people from all over the world, and has already given me the chance to gain an outside perspective on Cayman which I think will really help me bring some fresh ideas when I return after law school,’ she said.
‘You’ve got to experience other cultures to understand your own in the global perspective.’
That’s certainly one of the reasons why the Caribbean students are so excited about sharing their culture with the other students at the school who come from across the globe and all types of backgrounds.
CaribCouncil holds events throughout the year, including a three-round dominoes competition, an ‘Islander’ chapel service where students have a chance to make brief presentations on their Islands’ heritage, and hold a fun-filled Caribbean vs Canadian dance-off.
The ever-popular Islander ice hockey game pits students from the north Caribbean against their mates from the south.
‘It’s a good laugh for all of us,’ said Grade 12 student Donovon, who is the group’s Executive Director.
‘Hardly anyone can skate, of course, but the Canadians are really supportive in our efforts to get a handle on Canada’s national sport.’
Kristina also recently acted as choreographer for the Fashion of Dance competition at the school which showcased Caribbean music and style. With hopes of becoming a professional choreographer, the Grade 11 student saw it as a great chance to practice her skills and treat the international student body to some cool Caribbean moves.
Aside from holding special events, the group raises money for a number of charities including an orphanage in Haiti and a hurricane relief fund.
The group also sponsors one of their members to participate in the Jamaica self-help program, where a number of Trinity students spend either their March break or part of their summer holiday working at an inner-city school in Kingston.
The highlight of CaribCouncil’s activities, however, is CaribFest.
The party takes place on Trinity school grounds over a weekend in April, with four major events scheduled this year. Kicking off with an arts and careers night, it features the dominoes finals and a Carnival parade and country showcase in the sunny spring weather, and winds up with the Islander school dance.
Tracey, Donovan and Kristina are especially looking forward to the food – Caribbean fare is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the three days, a treat the whole school enjoys.
In order to put on the event, the students appeal to Caribbean organizations for sponsorship. The companies that participate enjoy not only local coverage but the chance to piggyback on Cayman Department of Tourism campaigns in the Ontario region.
‘We’re especially grateful to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, who have helped us organize our events, and to the Tortuga Rum Company and the Hamaty family, who have been our largest and most generous benefactors to date,’ said Tracey.
Judging from the effort these young Caymanians are already putting into CaribCouncil and their dedication to their homeland, it seems more than likely they will soon be shining on the political, professional and artistic stage here in Cayman in the not-too-distant future.
For further information regarding CaribCouncil or Trinity College School, please contact Donovon Kellyman at (905) 885-3217 extension 3823 or [email protected]. Contact Trinity College School at (905) 885-4565.