Dawn Marie De Four-Gill
It’s a New Year and new decade.
At the time of writing this, twenty ten is only two months old and it was already filled with many challenges for the Caribbean. Challenges that allowed us to band together and show what we as a region could accomplish in the face of adversity. This special double issue of the Pelican focuses on the ‘Caribbeaness’ of our beloved institution and the deep impact we have had and continue to have on the region.
The devastation occasioned by the earthquake in Haiti has deeply affected everyone in the region and The UWI community responded generously, in cash as well as in kind, to alleviate the suffering of the people of Haiti. A UWI team, comprising psychologists, engineers, public health practitioners and other technical experts, stood ready to provide assistance, as needed. In addition, an appeal was made to all staff members and students across the entire University to contribute to the emergency fund set up by the Vice Chancellor and special bank accounts were opened in various UWI countries to receive the contributions. To find out more about how UWI has responded to Haiti, read the on-line exclusive ‘UWI for Haiti’.
The entire University and the West Indies community were devastated by the loss of the colossal Caribbean cultural icon, Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford. He died on Tuesday 2nd February, 2010, just four hours short of his 77th birthday. Professor Nettleford’s life has been seamlessly intertwined with that of The University of the West Indies. At every stage in the growth and development of the institution his quiet, self-effacing leadership could be discerned. Even after his official ‘retirement’ in 2004 Professor Nettleford continued to serve in the capacity of Vice-Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Cultural Studies. Our ‘In My Opinion’ article pays tribute to the legend that was Rex as we feature his acceptance speech when he received the Chancellor’s Medal in April 2009.
The significance of these two traumatic events on the Caribbean, mirror, though not in its graveness, the deep effect that UWI has had on the development of the region. In this issue of the Pelican, we also look at the role UWI played when two major international meetings—the 5th Summit of the Americas and CHOGM—were held in Trinidad & Tobago; and honour our very own Sir Shridath Ramphal, in a special article by Professor Norman Girvan called ‘The Caribbean’s Diplomat’. The expansive internationally acclaimed cross-campus special library collections are also prominently featured in this issue. In fact, it is the cover story—‘UWI’s Jewels of the Caribbean’, with part of the collection featured on the cover and inside spread. A true testament to the brilliant imagery and uniqueness of what can be found on all of our campuses. In Conversations with Alumni, Emmy Award winner and UWI Alum, Kwame Dawes, is interviewed by Annie Paul, and he reveals how UWI has shaped him as an artist and poet. We also look at the impact UWI is having on shaping Early Childhood Education throughout the Caribbean when Vaneisa Baksh pulls together a snapshot of the internationally respected UWI researchers in that area that have caused a shift in the policies of Caribbean governments. Our very own Sir George speaks to the need to generously invest in the constancy and permanence of The University if the West Indies—an institution that has “...survived some of the most fractious and tendentious periods of West Indian history...” as well as one that is “...the major source of human capital responsible for stitching together much of the fabric of Caribbean society.”
I want to thank all our Pelican readers for the many letters and good wishes received, and to ensure that these good wishes continue to flow in, I would like to invite you to participate in our on-line readership survey so you can have input into the continuing improvement of the magazine. Keep on visiting Pelican on-line for updated on-line exclusives and back issues.