Cultural Entrepreneurship and Documentation Program – We have spent the majority of this week working on our entrepreneurial presentations for Friday. The four groups had to come up with a business idea from all of the information gathered from our interviews last week. Since my group’s main topic was masquerade, we decided to create a costume shop that would sell materials for these costumes and even pre-made costumes. Unfortunately, the demand for costumes would not be high enough year round, so to offset sales we decided to essentially create a shop all about Grenada. It would offer costumes (like I mentioned), local foods, local art, local rums, etc. Everything local. There doesn't seem to be a shop here on the island that is a one-stop spot for everything, so that is what we decided to go for. Tomorrow, we present in front of the group we have been working with from the beginning and as well as some other important guests that have been invited. We have yet to really be informed of whom these people are and what title they carry, so this could be an interesting thing for us to do! I am looking forward to seeing what they all think of our ideas, since some of the other groups have some very interesting business ideas as well.
Other than that, this week has been pretty uneventful (not that I can complain, I have literally spent a few hours on a beautiful beach everyday) besides Wednesday when we visited a girls school. One of the girls, Laura, that is here on the trip was able to get her hands on over 100 comics to bring down here to give to the local children. We all went along to help her give these out, and I must admit I did not think the whole experience of giving out the comics would move me in any way, but it really did. We went to St. Louis girls school, which was founded in 1897 so it has some very old beautiful buildings (and an amazing view of the harbor).
When we arrived, we waited for the principle to go get the classes of girls we would be giving the comics to. All of their classrooms were located in the small chapel looking building; it was designed to look like a chapel on purpose and has never actually been used for the purpose of a chapel. Two by two, the girls started coming out and they were all holding hands. They had on blue dresses that went to their knees, and all of their hair had blue and white ribbons or clips (some of the clips even said Jesus which I thought was cute since it was a Catholic school after all). There was about 50-60 girls ages 5-7 (I am just guessing, but they were very young). They gathered around in a half moon like shape in front of us. Our faculty member started talking to them, and he asked them to sing us a song. They were very excited to do this, I am not even sure what they sang but it was lovely. I could not believe how excited they all looked when he told them we were from Canada, they all smiled or had that "no way" look on their faces, it was like they were seeing their celebrity crush in the flesh or like we came from some magical place (but really we do, I mean come on Canada is pretty amazing eh?).
From there, we started handing out the comics, the girls were all reaching for the Hello Kitty ones I had in my hand. When I had one left, I asked who wanted it and I saw a tiny hand pop up from the back of the crowd. When I started my way towards the back to get it to this girl, I had about five other little hands try to grab the last one from me (Hello Kitty was a big hit) and I felt bad saying I had already promised it to someone else, but most of these girls already had one comic so then I did not feel as bad. Most of the girls ended up with more than one comic, so they were pretty happy about that. Laura had about 30 pencils to hand out, which she literally almost got mauled over. The pencils disappeared in a second, I felt bad that we did not have enough for all of them but they all seemed to understand. They all then lined up and walked back to classrooms. This made me sad, I wanted to spend more time with them and talk to them, they were so energetic.
I noticed one of the other NSCC students, Campbell, was standing in the doorway of a classroom. I was curious so I walked over to see what she was doing. She was talking to a class of slightly older students, who were also all crowded around the door. She had asked them what they were learning, and they said spelling. So we asked them to spell for us. They spelled probably about 20 words, and when they did there was this rhythm they all spelled to. We asked them to spell Canada (which again we saw some excitement over the word Canada) and they all managed to spell out C-a-n-a… Before most of group died out (most of them forgot how to spell it, but hey they did pretty good). In the van afterwards, our whole group was full of smiles. What we had just done really warmed all of our hearts.
We are now coming to the end of our trip and although I am sad to leave this beautiful country, I am looking forward to going home. I am not looking forward to this because I am homesick (or because I wanted to sleep in my own bed) but I am excited to go home and share my stories of this experience. Before I left, I had so many people (friends, parents, co-workers) tell me about how this was such a good opportunity for me and that I will have an amazing time. I started a new job at the first of the month, and even my work was very willing to accommodate me being gone since I was going away with school to do such an incredible thing. The director of operations at the hotel even remembered me telling him back in January when we briefly met (and there was no intention of me working at the same place in the future) that I was going away to be a part of this experience. When I think about what we’ve done, it really makes me smile. We not only documented oral histories of traditions that are going extinct in a country, but we also met so many people that have forever changed my life. This whole experience has really made me appreciate cultures and being a stranger in a country so much more, which is really essential in the hospitality business. I feel so much wiser after this experience, and it has truly made me a better person. I was so lucky to have been given this experience and I cannot wait to use what I have learned to move forward in my life.
Student, Tourism Management Program
NSCC Akerley Campus