Updated: Feb 25
ATLANTA - Feb. 15, 2022 --- Some lucky students at Westminster Academy in metro-Atlanta received hands on experience on Caribbean culture and science thanks to the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation (CACAF). Students participated in the foundation's Cultural Connect program during a two-week learning module that began on January 8th and concluded on January 20th, 2022. The Cultural Connect program offered students from diverse backgrounds and experiences the chance to immerse themselves in their global community. CACAF leaders partnered with the Westside Parent Avengers Program an organization which engages students from the historic Vine City neighborhood in Atlanta---to join in the fun free of charge.
The culturally rich program included components such as Caribbean culinary arts, humanities, and marine biology. Students took a field trip to sample delicious Caribbean meals from Tassa Roti, a Marietta-based Caribbean American restaurant that served up a heaping side of history to connect students with the flavors and spices of Caribbean cuisine. Students were then given the opportunity to experience glimpses of Caribbean fine arts with a special presentation from Mocko Jumbie (stilt dancing) performer, Alison Moolenaar-Foy. The module also opened student's eyes to the significance of mask wearing and design with a special craft instruction from Educator, Sherry Bellille. Bellille is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Westside Parent Avengers.
In addition to arts and culture, the CACAF Cultural Connect program gave students the chance to participate in a virtual marine biology class. Using virtual technology, the students were able to learn about marine life in the Caribbean and how to help care for the oceans that attract millions of visitors to the Caribbean each year. Students were able to ask questions and learn from several professors including Charen Glasgow of Kennesaw State University, Howard Forbes from the University of the Virgin Islands Department of Marine Biology and Molly Perry a liberal arts educator also from the University of the Virgin Islands. Chairman of the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation and US Virgin Islands native, Michael Thomas believes this program is one of the most powerful programs of the foundation because it helps to bridge the gap of cultural understanding. "Immersive cultural experiences have the power to engage students, increase their aptitude for diversity, and allow them to improve their social skills. We believe the program will allow for a greater impact on student’s ability to learn about their global community," said Thomas. The organization plans to roll out the program to more students in local schools, with hopes of replicating the initiative in cities across the country. The Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation's Cultural Connect program is supported in part by the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta.
CACAF was founded in 2016 by Michael Thomas. Since then, the foundation has established programs that support disaster preparedness and response and educational mentorship programs for young people. In addition, the foundation has been committed to the study, advancement and presentation of Caribbean arts, culture, and humanities. To learn more about the work of the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation's Cultural Connect program or to donate, visit www.caribbeanculturalarts.org.