The surprising sound of pounding base echoes through the campus on Sunday afternoon, January 26. UWI Fete has begun. The Campus Principal’s residence, normally one of the most peaceful spots at UWI St Augustine even during the busiest times, is at the heart of the action. A stream of guests come through the gates. The stream will flow well into Sunday evening. On the other side, a toy village of tents and booths decorate the lawn. Wines, vodkas, rums, and whiskeys of all varieties await them. The deep aroma of different cuisines intermingle on the walkways.

And down on the open field is the stage. From below it looks like the towering engine of a spaceship. In a few hours it will be the engine of UWI Fete, powering the crowd with performances by David Rudder, Patrice Roberts, Superblue, Swappi, Voice, Ravi B and Karma, Kes d Band, and Raymond Ramnarine and Dil E Nadan, and Rhapsody the Band.

They titled it “White Diamonds”, and it’s easy to think of it as just a high-end, all-inclusive Carnival party. But UWI Fete is much more. Its true value isn’t in the performances, the food and drinks or even the outstanding Carnival vibes. The diamonds, the true wealth, is in the opportunity UWI Fete has created for deserving students for a full 30 years now.

UWI Fete is an initiative of the UWI Development and Endowment Fund (UWIDEF). All proceeds from the annual event go towards students in need. Over the decades, these funds have had a transformative effect on the lives of hundreds of students, their families and the university. Over 3,000 scholarships and bursaries, valued at more than $18.5 million have been awarded since the first UWI Fete. For students who may come from economic or social backgrounds where attending university feels inaccessible, scholarships give them access.

To commemorate its 30 years of positive contributions, UWI Fete honoured its founder, the late Professor George Maxwell Richards, former President of Trinidad and Tobago and Campus principal of UWI St Augustine. Although he passed in 2018 and his tenure as Campus Principal ended in 1996, Professor Richards has left a legacy for UWI St Augustine and many of its past, present and potential students of tomorrow through UWI Fete, a legacy of mining for the diamonds of opportunity.