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Character Education

Promoting Character Education in St. Vincent

As coordinator of the UPF summer internships abroad for college students, I flew with Gina to St. Vincent, a neighboring island, where we were met by Abner Richards, director for a five-day camp held in Barrouallie from July 30–August 3 at the Barrouallie Multi-Purpose Academy. This is a secondary school for students who want to learn trades.

This was the first camp of its kind for St. Vincent. The schedule, activities, and lessons were along the same model as the camps in St. Lucia. Students ranged in age from twelve to eighteen. Mrs. Kyoto Kuramoto, Chairwoman for Women's Federation for World Peace in the Caribbean, taught crafts; Mrs. Cenac and I taught drama; and Mr. Piere, from the school, ran the sports activities.

We were joined by Dwight Augustin, Dannel Chassang, and Arlette Cenac, all from St. Lucia. Mrs. Cenac is a retired school principal and an Ambassador for Peace who is committed to bringing character education to the youth of the Caribbean. Dwight and Dannel are trained Christian counselors who work in public schools throughout the year teaching the abstinence message in "Family Life Education" classes. The five of us became the support staff for the teachers and counselors from St. Vincent who were trained by Mr. Alan Saunders.

It was a busy week that included a national holiday. August 1 is Emancipation Day, commemorating the emancipation of the slaves in 1834. It is a day for family picnics when all workplaces and stores are closed. We had almost full attendance that day, and we organized into teams to clean the school. Mr. Crease, the principal, was especially happy to see his school thoroughly cleaned!

The House of Hope, a local HIV/AIDS charity, sponsored a visit to St. Vincent by the WAIT Team (Washington AIDS International Teens). They brought their music, dance, and drama to our camp. They are recruiting and training a St. Vincent team. One of our campers, "Biggie" (Glenroy John), performed and sang the song that won him an award in the island's 2006 HIV/AIDS songwriting contest.

I feel great wonder at the transforming effect a five-day experience can bring about. The fact that we achieved such a feeling of oneness and joy over the course of such a short time gives great hope for what can be accomplished through on-going programs.

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