A look at the VICCC: preserving and restoring Caribbean Culture

ARIGE SHROUF |

ST. CROIX— The Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center (VICCC) began as a vision of UVI President, David Hall, and was officially launched at the International Islands in Between Conference (IIBC) last year on St. Thomas. The St. Croix launch, roundtable, and ribbon cutting, however took place on Jan. 30 at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Albert A. Sheen campus.

According to the VICCC Director, Chenzira Davis Kahina, the St. Croix launch was a “phenomenal success” with “probably” three times as many people in attendance as expected.

The launch featured several speakers highlighting the importance of the VICCC, its goals, and its objectives. The roundtable discussion at the launch allowed people to state their expectations for the VICCC.

“[One] goal of the launch,” said Kahina “was to present the Inaugural [Journal] Publication… to identify that the VICCC is here, and is here with a strength and a voice, to stay.”

According to Kahina, the audience’s response was positive; many donated CDs, films, books, and publications “that were linked specifically to the cultural richness of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.”

The community reaction bodes well for the future of the newly minted VICCC.

As outlined by Hall, the Center aims to “nurture, respect, research, restore, and preserve” the Virgin Islands’ Caribbean Culture.

Under Kahina’s direction and the advisory board, the VICCC seeks to gather cultural knowledge and publications through extensive research and interviews of culture and tradition bearers. The VICCC intends to digitally archive cultural documents and publications in collaboration with the UVI library for easy access to all who are interested.

The VICCC’s objective is to produce two publications a year, highlighting their progress and findings. The center’s hope is that there will be more community and student engagement in the process.

In the spirit of keeping the culture alive, Dr. Kahina stated that the University will also be adding a Caribbean studies minor in the fall of 2013.

Kahina also stated that the VICCC plans on hosting monthly “bamboulas,” a “roundtable [discussion] around a particular theme of culture.” The gatherings will be aimed at getting feedback from members of the UVI community, but all are welcome.

The center is funded by the Office of the President with the amount of $50,000 a year to start. However, the goal is to gather funds from government and private organizations to aid in the expansion of the center.

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