Exploring the notion of transcendence, Ariana White ’22 discussed the ways resilience is manifested in Trinidadian culture in her Community and Multicultural Development (CaMD) Scholar Presentation, “Transcending the Barriers of Slavery: Sub-Saharan Religion, Festival, and Folklore in Trinidad and Tobago.” White touched upon her connection with Trinidadian folklore and spiritualism, detailing the cultures, languages, and religions of stolen Africans on Caribbean lands.
Reflecting on the experiences of working on her project, White mentioned the difficulties and challenges of her writing process while also thanking the community for making the experience rewarding for her.
“My mother was my biggest inspiration for this project as she has been telling me Trinidadian folklore all my life. She sparked my curiosity in the history of storytelling and its representation in Trinidadian Carnival. My biggest takeaway from [doing this] research was to give myself time away from reading. In those moments away from my work, I found myself brainstorming and analyzing literature I had read with the need to write it down, which was incredibly helpful for the writing process,” said White.
White continued, “The most difficult part of this process was probably starting it. It took me a while to initially sit down and start my research because the level of digging I knew I had to complete to have a finished product was daunting. But once started, I grew into my work and found confidence in my words and knowledge. I loved giving my CaMD presentation and interacting with the school community through a series of topics I had learned so much about and cared deeply for.”
Attendee Dominique Williams ’24 shared her excitement when first seeing the topic of White’s presentation, as it relates to her home country. Williams appreciated White’s candidness and directness in narrating the history of slavery from her culture.
Williams said, “I’m from St. Kitt’s, so this subject was familiar to me, and I was interested to learn more about it from the perspective of research. Ariana really made the entire conversation approachable and amiable. Even when talking about enslavement and its trauma, she made herself like the Trinidadian spirit she spoke about, her presentation was mostly unburdened by the subject.”
Donald Slater, Instructor in History and Social Science, who served as White’s faculty advisor, was impressed by White’s studies. According to Slater, faculty advisors guide through CaMD Scholars’ research, assist with writing the paper, and prepare scholars for the public presentation.
“Ariana’s rich research and dynamic presentation the other night hopefully left the audience with many take-aways. The most significant takeaway, I think, is quite ‘big picture’: any culture’s current practices are a complex palimpsest that has developed over time as the result of internal and external influences; both positive and negative. Resultantly, it is difficult for people to understand our present practices without understanding our past. This, in turn, can help determine which practices we most value and how we can take them with us into the future. I am incredibly proud of Ariana. She has grown as a scholar and young woman through the CaMD scholar program. It was a joy for me to see her celebrate her heritage during the process,” wrote Slate in an email to The Phillipian.
White said, “I’d like to add that this was a life-changing experience. I and my fellow CaMD Scholar peers have grown tenfold over the course of this year-long process, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity and team there to support my endeavor.”