by Riley Taitingfong
Today, most of the students from the Barbados program headed back to Washington. We bid adieu as a few of us are spending some extra time here.
The end of the program was filled with memorable experiences and even a few surprises!
We had an underground tram tour of Harrison’s Cave, caves formed naturally by water erosion.
The top left photo shows formations called “The Village” for the columns that resemble people. Those ‘people’ have taken thousands of years to form! The hanging stalactites (remember c for ceiling) and emerging stalagmites (remember g for ground) lined the cave as we made our descent over 100 feet down. Look at the photo at the right of the collage- those formations will take over 20,000 years to touch. Our tour guide joked that if we make reservations now we can get a discount to see that.
We also got to swim with Hawksbill and Green turtles! We snorkeled over shipwrecks and swam through schools of fish.
We stepped out of our student shoes and into more of a tourist role for the Harbor Lights Dinner show.
Our final days in the classroom included presentations by each student on a research topic of our choice.
My presentation was about how the enslavement experience is communicated (and often not communicated) here in Barbados. As we toured the island’s historic sites, I noticed the enslavement experience is sometimes muted or excluded from informational tours and exhibits (like at plantations or museums). My presentation allowed me to analyze those patterns of communication and explore related discourse. To omit a historical narrative as integral to Barbadian history as enslavement does not paint an inclusive picture of the past. One researcher and archaeologist we met with, Dr. Watson, said that “in a museum you hope to represent the past, and send a message for the future.” With inauthentic representations of the past, the message for the future is skewed. There was certainly a range in representation from place to place, and interviews with the locals also provided some enlightening insight. But in a nutshell, as important as what museums may show us to remember, is what they show us to forget. The photo below is an account of slaves sold in Barbados in February, 1685.
As I reflect on the great experiences and new friendships this program has provided me, it’s unbelievable to think about how quickly it all went by. I’m happy to be enjoying some extra time here, and to be able to see the country’s biggest celebration (Crop over). I’ll be documenting what I expect will be the most colorful and vibrant experience of my life! And to all my friends from the program, I’ll see you guys back at home in a few weeks!