Another full week of work and cultural experiences have passed us by and left us with many more questions than answers. Questions we explored this week and will continue to explore over the next few weeks — like, what does plantation slavery have to do with modern day St.Lucia? What does Cultural Imperialism mean, and does it factor into the history of the Caribbean? Besides this academic exercise of having grappled with these questions, the Gap Crew had a few more opportunities to go out into the island and actually bear witness to some pressing social problems as well as some of the things going well in the Lucian community. For example, the crew was able to go to the top all-girls school on the island, spend some time at the Bordelais Correctional Facility, and humbly watch as the proud new homeowners moved into their new house — a house the Gap Crew helped build!
Last Friday, October 31st, the Gap Experience took a field trip to Saint Joseph’s Convent School. The Convent School is the top all-girls secondary school in Saint Lucia and holds the creme de le creme of academically inclined girls. The talent show was put on by the seniors and poked fun at modern culture and the school administration. The ladies hosted us to an afternoon of fun entertainment and lots of laughs. The program consisted of skits, singing, dancing, and even a fashion show. After the talent show we had some down time before our ride arrived. We used the extra time to discuss the show as well as see the newly installed pen making room, where girls can learn to operate equipment used in pen making and master the art. Although the class is part of their curriculum, the equipment was donated by Good News.
On Wednesday, Lauren, Martha, and Peyton, with two of our Lucian volunteers, Nathalie and Jesse, visited the Bordelais Correctional Facility in Dennery, which is on the Atlantic side of the island. When the girls arrived, they went through a security check point consisting of a thorough search through their bags, a swift pat down of each member, and a lock up of all their personal belongings. The girls were then led through the men’s unit of the prison to the women’s unit where they passed through large open courtyards and buildings lined with cells. Upon reaching the women’s unit, they realized how little privacy the women living there had. The gals entered a small concrete building with one room consisting of group showers, a common meeting area, and cells along the perimeter. The students were then introduced to the 11 inmates that occupied the women’s unit. While there, everyone gathered to make bracelets and play Bingo and the friendly game of Hot Potato. It was uplifting to see the creativity the inmates brought with them as they made improvised Christmas trees with pipe cleaners. The difference in the judicial system was shocking in terms of how in America, an individual is innocent until proven guilty whereas, it appears, in Saint Lucia, an individual is guilty until proven innocent. Most of the women in the prison have been there for months, even years, and, in most cases, have yet to receive a trial or sentence. They do not have the opportunity to receive bail and the time already spent in prison waiting for a trial does not count towards their sentence.
For our “Sunday Funday”, we went on a snorkeling escapade, saw many beautiful sights, and took many marvelous pictures. We went to two different diving locations and were fortunate enough to “sea critters” such as flounder, eels, lionfish, and sea-horses. Seeing the elusive sea-horse is a rare occurance, as many divers who have been searching for years have yet to see one in it’s natural habitat. We ended our excursion with a scenic boat ride into the sunset over the ocean.