Popular Barbadian Author urges St Maarten Teens to adopt new lifestyles

Third-form students of the St. Maarten Academy attended the book fair symposium last Saturday to hear leading Caribbean novelist, essayist, poet, critic, social commentator, and professor, Dr. George Lamming, who explored the life and legacy of Dr. Walter Rodney, a prominent Caribbean historian and political activist from Guyana.

Lamming, who hails from Barbados, was the feature presenter at the President’s Forum held at the University of St. Martin during the 10th annual St. Martin Book Fair, extrapolated on Rodney’s early life, his work, and how he influenced the shaping of Caribbean history and politics.

Prior to the days leading up to the event, none of the students had heard of Rodney, and were challenged on Saturday to not only know “the room they occupy” (their country or territory), but also “the house” (Caribbean region), as well as the relationship between them, said their teacher Kim Lucas-Felix.

Lamming stressed the importance of people emancipating not only their physical being, but also their mind. He said people should “transform the reality” in which they find themselves.

For example, “Novels are directed to an area of feeling, with specific intentions to make the ‘feeling’ think…[They] depict aspects of social reality,” the noted author stated.

In presenting their reports upon their return to school, the students were able to discuss points of Rodney’s influences in the working class society of not only Guyana, but the Caribbean region as a whole.

One of the things that resonated with them was that Rodney used history as a way of ordering knowledge and as an instrument of social change,” said Lucas-Felix.

One student, Claudia Simms, said: “I got to know his past and people in the past and I liked the fact that the Book Fair took the time to invite Dr. Lamming to talk to us.”

Many students found the information very helpful, especially for history classes, said Lucas-Felix, who heads the English Department.

It was educational and it is encouraging me to be like Dr. Rodney [and] further my studies in history. I find it was very good having someone talk about Mr. Walter Rodney and I love how the discussion was set up,” said another student, Christa George.

St. Maarten Academy high school students are like a youthful crown above the heads of their elders at the symposium of the 10th annual St. Martin Book Fair (L-R, seated): author Fabian Badejo, HNP president Jacqueline Sample, noted Caribbean scholar George Lamming, Academy teacher Kim Lucas-Felix, and USM president Annelies van den Assem (CLF photo)

Students were also happy to have been photographed with a renowned literary figure such as George Lamming after the Presidents Forum, said their teacher.

This was the first time that the forum was held on a Saturday and the larger-than-usual audience will make us think about keeping the Presidents Forum in the future on the Saturday instead of on the usual Friday afternoon of the book fair weekend, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

On Friday, June 1, two other visiting authors, Wena Poon (Singapore/USA) and Myriam Chancy (Haiti/Canada) shared their work with students at the St. Maarten Academy high school.

The St. Martin Book Fair ran from May 31 – June 2 and attracted authors and presenters from a myriad of areas, including St. Martin, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Italy.

Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers organized the literary/book festival on May 31-June 2, 2012, in collaboration with the University of St. Martin, the Ministry of Education & Culture (MECSY), the Collectivité de St. Martin, and the strategic partner St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

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