by Riley Taitingfong
We arrived safe and sound at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill on Monday. A combination of jet lag, heat, and genuine awe had me in a lingering dream-state… From our first swim in the Caribbean sea, to watching a breathtaking sunrise from our dorm rooms, those first experiences felt surreal.
We spent the first few days getting oriented to campus and getting to know one another. University of the West Indies has three campuses: Jamaica, Trinidad, and Cave Hill in Barbados. This campus is the smallest of the three and is just 50 years old, but is bursting with rich history. UWI’s core value of integration takes many forms on campus. Architecture, artwork, and traditions symbolize the diverse influences in the foundation of UWI.
While on tour, we bumped into the UWI principal. He explained a symbol, the sankofa bird, upon an African drum UWI received as a gift from a donor in Ghana. The sankofa bird flies forward, but keeps its gaze back, symbolizing the importance of remembering your roots. He said it is a reminder that “no matter where you go, you must always remember where you come from.”
I’m seeing glimpses of what’s to come in this program- new friendships, good food, new perspectives and challenges to my own cultural norms. I’m so fortunate to be experiencing all of this in such a beautiful place and in such good company. The genuine hospitality of everyone around me reminds me of my own family, so even in a foreign place I feel a sense of home.
FIVE FUN FACTS
1. George Washington lived in Barbados in 1751, and it is rumored that he may have fathered a child while here- scandalous!
2. People from Barbados are Barbadian or Bajan
3. A little vocab: bust a lime; to lime (verb, noun): to hang out
4. Barbados just released a new currency (see photos)- it has braille!
5. Drivers stay to the left here…to quote our van driver, “stay to the left, or be left dead!”