Education. We all know that working at broadening one's perspective pays intellectual dividends. I advise my students that a youngster from a small Caribbean Island cannot expect to possess a well-rounded education without having spent quality time away studying. Being physically present in another culture, even another climate, is a whole education in itself. Staying at home and absorbing the same degree of cultural exposure takes unusual focus and determination. A good education calls for wide-ranging reading and study so that the mind is opened and can flourish.
Well-stocked libraries hold the total sum of human knowledge. Some libraries that I have known store millenia of human research and learning. Successfully accessing the sum total of human knowledge from home, when one's homeland is a tiny island, is problematic. The only effective way is to spend time as a student on campus in another land.
Anguilla's public library is no focus or centre of world-wide learning. I recently asked for a copy of a Greek classic to discuss with a student. It was nowhere to be found. When I enquired, I was told it was too old for the shelves of our library! My students laugh when I ask their views of the school library. I have not pressed them on the topic any further.
Last week I've been in Paramaribo, Surinam. There I listened to the offerings of the best of our West Indian scholars speaking on our history, sociology, economy and politics. They were a mixture of professors, students and researchers. As a result, I return home refreshed both mentally and intellectually.
The field-trip this year was to the historic recreation centre of Kolacreek. We swam in its bauxite-red waters.
The past week brings home to me the crass materialism and shallowness of Anguilla's elite. I become aware of the narrow-mindedness and spite of our not-yet-elite. Both impressions are nearly washed away by the week's immersion. Surviving another year of incompetence, corruption, bigotry, spite and malice seems just possible.
We can go away to live among other civilisations and still come back home unimproved. I have known students who have spent several years at distant Universities and return home qualified, but as unimproved as if they had never left.
It remains true that one can lead a horse to water, but one cannot force it to drink. I still urge my students to spend a few years in New York, London, or Vancouver. Drink deeply at the waters before you come home. An education is not a means of earning a living. It is an essential attribute for enjoying a quality life.
Professor Pedro Welch with Joel and Joyce Toney
President Verene Shepherd and Gail Saunders
Professors Bridget Brereton and Richard Blackett enjoy Koalcreek
Verene Shepherd, Richard Blackett and company
Yes, that is a Surinamese ant walking across a half-inch board