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Miss Josie Solomon (right) gives a history lesson.

Published 6th September 2010, 11:26am

More than 30 government school teachers, newly recruited to the Islands, journeyed into the heart of Caymanian culture just before the 2010/11 school year got underway. The teachers were participating in a Cultural Caravan, organised by the Education Ministry, as part of their induction programme. The Cultural Caravan is the result of a strategic partnership between the Education Ministry and the Cayman Islands National Museum. "Ensuring teachers new to our system get a real understanding of our people, our country and our way of life is a critical part of preparing them for success in our education system," explained Education Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP. "We are excited to have the Museum partner with us for a second straight year, to deliver a unique and meaningful introduction to our culture. The feedback from our teachers has been extremely positive." A guided museum tour preceded the caravan's many stops, the first of which was Pedro St. James and a lesson on Cayman's political history. Then the teachers were off to local artist Al Ebanks' studio to view the Native Sons exhibit. The agenda also included a visit to the Josie Solomon Senior Centre in Bodden Town, where custard-topped cornbread and heavy cake awaited and where eleven-year-old Jevaughnie Ebanks delighted the guests with some storytelling. Their day ended with a Looky Ya at Night, back at the National Museum. There they learned how to spin gigs and blow conch shells, viewed traditional craft displays and saw a modern metal caboose in use. Tasty fritters fried in coconut oil and served with mango jelly and tamarind juice completed their activity-packed day. Media studies teacher Vicky Rae, who moved here from the UK thought the day's activities would help her better-understand her students. "If I came in cold I wouldn't have a clue," she said. "But I've learned that relationships are very, very important here and that people are incredibly friendly. This will help guide my approach to, and communication with, my students in the classroom." Patrick Jackson, who teaches design and technology, said he had no prior knowledge of the Cayman Islands before the ad for teachers caught his eye. "Grand Cayman is a new experience for me, and this outing definitely brings the culture to us. "Already I can appreciate the challenges that exist in this small but diverse community," he continued. "It will be a lot different from my experiences in Jamaica and the UK, but I'm looking forward to learning more about the culture and to enjoying all that Cayman has to offer - particularly the beaches." Museum Education Coordinator Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, who conceptualised Cultural Caravan, was herself a teacher for nearly 16 years. She noted, "As I taught, I noticed that many new teachers didn't really get to know who we are as a people, but I believe that familiarity with our culture and history will always help them relate more effectively with our kids. "This experience gives them a starting point. It's like licensing them to go out into the community afterwards to get to know our people instead of just doing things with friends from their own countries." Mrs. Chollette added that she's already seen several teachers from last year's caravan attending numerous cultural events. The teachers have been assigned to government primary- and high schools across Cayman.