Creative Project : Family Scrapbook
It takes a village.
When my mother surprised me with a trip to the islands over spring break, I knew that I would return with pictures and stories that could be used towards my creative project. Below you will find pictures of different people, places, and things, but the overall underlying theme is centered around what my roots are and how they are relevant to me in my journey of Caribbean self-exploration.
In almost every Caribbean household you are taught to greet your elders as “aunty” or “uncle.” I knew that I would be seeing family in Antigua, but I didn’t know who they were, so I had to prepare myself to greet everyone accordingly. We left the cruise ship after breakfast in a hurry as it was raining, but when I saw the lovely lady in the picture above, I knew we were family. She looks so much like my late grandmother that I almost cried. I am so glad I got to meet her, Aunt Coralita was her name. Even though I didn’t know she existed until that point, I felt so good to finally connect with and become close to her.
The cruise ship stopped in Barbados and it was there that I discovered that I am also part Barbadian. Even though it is through marriage, I still recognize the influence of Barbadian culture in my home life. It was also very interesting to see Antiguan Nationalism in my family. Even though they live in Barbados, they were representing Antigua with the same intensity. It was beautiful how both flags flew in Barbados. It reminded me of how proud my family is and how proud I should be of my heritage.
While eating at my aunt’s house I was offered a drink of Mauby. I didn’t know what it was, but I’d seen varying opinions about on Twitter and decided to try it. I took one sip and loved it and my aunt laughed and said: “Woi, what a way yuh a drink di Mauby, a one Caribbean gyal dis, ee man?” (Wow, look at how you like the Mauby, you’re definitely Caribbean). I laughed and we continued to eat our Antiguan Bun and drink the Mauby. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t like it one bit.
This is another picture of a decorative house item portraying all the main beautiful cultural things about Antigua, from the different parishes to the national flower, the agave karatto. This is one of the first things you see when you enter my uncle’s house in Barbados. No matter where my family is, they always remember their roots and appreciate them. It was very evident and gave me even more excitement to do the same in America. I remember growing up succumbing to the stereotype that if one wasn’t Jamaican, they weren’t Caribbean; I didn’t even try to learn anything about my island of Antigua. I’m glad that I have grown out of that phase and into a mindset that allows me to love and cherish my Caribbean culture.
In the Caribbean, there is such an emphasis on healthy living. This probably goes hand in hand with the prominence of Seventh Day-Adventism, a faith that also emphasizes healthy living. People are almost forced to be healthy with how much walking you do and all the different fruits and vegetables growing everywhere. It was so fascinating to me to have fresh produce available to me at the drop of hat. Also the way the people gave directions, was funny. I was literally told to “go up the hill, past the pothole, turn by the orange house, make a left by the mango tree, and then I would see the place”. Now when I reflect on how my great aunt and grandmother would tell me that growing up in the Caribbean would have been so much different from growing up in America, I really see how.
I didn’t expect to be lucky enough to see where my great aunt Tantilu and her siblings grew up, but sure enough, it still stands. It is kind of crazy to think that they got in trouble, cried, laughed, had good times, had bad times, all in this house. It was small, up a hill, and quite a vibrant color, but I felt a sense of comfort there. I didn’t get to go inside, but I was overcome with emotion when I got there. Seeing the house was just more proof that they didn’t have much, but they did well with what they had. Seeing the way my family lived helped me to be even more grateful for what I have. My family moved so that I could have a better life before I was even thought about and this project has really helped me see that.
My uncle Ewart drove us all around Antigua and approximately every 5 minutes he would stop and introduce us to more family, more family friends, and it was crazy. Being introduced to this uncle in particular, Uncle Livingston, was special because he was wearing a pathfinder shirt — pathfinders is essentially a combination of boy scouts and girl scouts where you learn about God in the Seventh-Day Adventist church — which really showed me that Adventism runs deep in my family. He also greeted me with such love and open arms I was taken aback. I realized that I would be loved no matter what if I were to ever spend more time there.
Seeing the other side of my Antiguan family was an amazing experience. They welcomed me with open arms and I felt really connected to them. They took me and my mother around the island, fed us, and gave us wifi. I didn’t know they existed, and they didn’t know that I existed either, but as I’m sure you can see, family is everything. It didn’t matter if they were in-laws or half-siblings, I love them all the same and they love me the same as well. I don’t really have any young family members in the US so meeting my cousin was great. My aunt is beautiful and funny and I cannot wait to see her in the summer. It was honestly an amazing experience, and I miss them so much already.
I was so happy to finally see my beautiful island of Antigua. I don’t know what expected, but I was ecstatic the whole time that I was there. It is not the richest island, but it is definitely not the poorest. I saw so many different family members, friends, churches, markets, and the overall experience is something that I will never forget. I only got to spend 6 hours there, but I will be going back this summer and this project has given me so much insight and I feel like I will be able to appreciate my island more upon my return.
I decided to do a family scrapbook for my creative project because I finally had pictures to do so. I remember growing up inquiring about my Antiguan roots and I would often get answers like “we have no records” or “any pictures or records we have would’ve been lost in the journey to America.” Thus, when I was finally granted the tools and the opportunity to showcase some visual evidence of my family ancestry I took it. It was hard to find an underlying theme for this scrapbook, but I guess it was more of a summary of everything from family, to food, to living conditions that tie my whole project together. The goal of my project was become more acquainted with my Caribbean culture, as well as to understand the why’s and push/pull factors that guided my ancestors through the routes that have led them to where they are today.
I deemed it fit to close my project because it is the perfect way to tie all the different aspects together. The goal of the project proposal is addressed. The things I mentioned in my biography are pictured. The research I did in my annotated bibliography is connected to the different pictures that were taken. The stories told in my oral history interview have at least one picture connection and thus the scrapbook is the ultimate way to connect and finish off the project. As I mentioned before, I am extremely happy and proud that I finally have pictures to put in a project like this. Seeing how I could connect everything was entertainment in itself. I would never have had a reason to use these pictures if I didn’t take this class, and I am forever grateful.