The Caribbean: Climate, Commerce, and Culture

A word from Dr. John Strudwick

It is my pleasure to introduce the topic of this year’s Head of School Symposium – The Caribbean: Climate, Commerce, and Culture. This year marks the 15th year of symposia at LFA where I choose a topic within global education on which the entire school community can focus. I alternate each year between a topic and a geographical area and so after Immigration, Emigration, and Migration last year, I had to choose a country or area for 2016-17.

I selected the Caribbean as I felt it was a part of the world very close to us and yet not well known or understood. It is a unique and diverse area of the world that has many lessons from its history, economy, society, politics, and culture for our community. I wanted LFA to have the opportunity to learn about the area’s struggle with colonization, imperialism, and independence. I wanted you to see the vibrancy of the Caribbean cultures with their array of local and European languages and arts. I wanted you to understand such topics as the history of Cuba, the challenges faced by Haiti after the earthquake, the challenging economics of the region and the unusual importance and impact of tourism, and the constant medical threats including the current challenge posed by the Zika virus.

It’s an area of the world that I wanted all of us to understand better through exploration, speakers, movies, and study. It is an area of the world that I felt was too often relegated in our minds to a sunny tourist destination rather than an area with significant economic and political challenges yet rich in history, language, culture, and potential. In the words of author Malcolm Bradbury: “If Caribbean writers have one single unifying theme, it is a strong sense of place, and of home. There is also - always, beneath the humour, which is a West Indian characteristic - a sadness: an awareness of a past that can never really be forgotten, or forgiven.”

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