US Peace Corps Volunteers undergo cultural immersion
By VonDez Phipps
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE batch of US Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) that arrived in the Federation on August 30 has been undergoing a series of sessions arranged by the local organisers of that association.
The six-week programme attempts to ensure an easy social transition and adjustment into the St. Kitts/Nevis culture and society.
A visit to Brimstone Hill National Fortress and facilitated cultural sessions there are the main planned events for this week; and on completion of this stage, the volunteers will be sworn in and take up residence in various areas throughout both islands.
Internship Co-ordinator Meredith Warner, in speaking to SKNVibes, stated that the cultural emersion is a major stage in “breaking the ice” and equipping the volunteers with a basic understanding of the language, culture and social behaviour of the people of St. Kitts/Nevis.
She declared that the sessions should be a good step in preparing them for their stay in the Federation and their interaction with governmental and non-governmental organisations as well as small businesses.
“Of course, these sessions provide an easier way for the volunteers to be integrated into the culture. They have just been here for seven days, but they are already beginning to understand features of our culture and they are excited to learn more,” she added.
Warner said the volunteers are cognisant of the need for resource personnel in the schools, small community groups and in various government ministries, and are looking forward to working alongside these groups.
She thanked the US Peace Corps for sending a new set of volunteers and hopes for the continued partnership between the US and St. Kitts in this regard.
Creighton Pencheon, Director of Culture and facilitator of the programme, said he is pleased to be a part of this year’s activity. He indicated that this year’s language/cross-cultural emersion allows the volunteers to get in tune with the language which would help them to appreciate the culture of the country.
~~Adz:Left~~ “They will be involved in role playing which will serve to reinforce language structure and using different methods including folk singing, ring games and storytelling to get a real feel of the language.”
Pencheon explained that from previous experience with the US Peace Corps, he has observed that the volunteers prefer to be involved in the learning process and that the sessions are programmed for them to learn through discovery, rather than lecture. He stated that they often feel “a great sense of achievement when they are able to understand or speak Kittitian Creole”.
He pointed out that having the first cultural session at Brimstone Hill serves a good backdrop of African heritage, as the World Heritage Site is pregnant with the history of the nation. He hopes that the cultural emersion will also serve as a “tool of adjustment and survival in the society”.
The 12 volunteers all expressed their eagerness to offer their professional expertise in any way possible in order to strengthen social bonds and improve human resource in the country through volunteerism.