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T&T Author urges at Tribute to the Americas

Monday, May 7, 2018
Build bridges through walls
Heritage educator, journalist and author of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction Dr Kris Rampersad, presents an autographed copy to community awardee Steven Chang at A Celebration of Arrivals, LiTTribute to the Americas 2018 in Florida, USA. PICTURES COURTESY DR KRIS RAMPERSAD

Dr Kris Rampersad, author, heritage educator and journalist, has urged the diverse populations of the Americas to build bridges through walls.

Rampersad is on a literary tour dubbed LiTTribute to the Americas 2018 across North America and Canada aimed to promote intercultural dialogue showcase the connections with literary heritage and other experiences of peoples of the Americas inspired by her commemorative book LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction. LiTTscapes has been hailed for its efforts at bridging the gaps among the diverse cultures of the Caribbean.

The Canadian appearances begin as guest of the Zoomers’ Association annual Mothers’ Day celebrations at the Erin View Residence Hall, Mississauga, Ontario from 1 pm, May 13, to autograph works and for interactive engagement on the theme Mothers, Motherlands and MotherCultures and from 3 pm, on May 20, and a Reading at Windies Restaurant, Scarborough Toronto.

Speaking at A Celebration of Arrivals in South Florida USA last week, accompanied by steelpan music, calypso, and dances, Dr Rampersad told of how these cultural forms were the bedrock of the literary culture. Creating linkages between the two can encourage appreciation of literature and encourage reading that can foster greater appreciation of other peoples and cultures, she said.

A peace advocate, Rampersad observed a moment of remembrance for the victims of the recent school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students in Florida and urged guests to harness their collective energies and knowledge of the strength of community gained from their villages of origin to counter the culture of violence and despair that seems to be crippling communities across the Americas.

Dr Rampersad recalled her early schooling, when “students did not have access to guns” and gave anecdotes of when “chalk was our only weapon!” in the presence of some of her early mentors, now resident in the diaspora including former Deacon of the Anglican Church Reverend Winston Joseph. A former priest at Trinidad’s All Saints Anglican Church in Newtown, Joseph said he attended as he has followed Rampersad’s achievements since a student.

One of Rampersad’s early childhood teachers, Marion Karamath, a retired special education teacher of Canada, introduced her to the US audience.

Dr Rampersad said that laying a solid foundation for children through a culture of reading and exchange of experiences can bridge the generation gap and redirect the anxieties that lead to violence, as she shared successes of the children of LiTTscapes who showcased their talent during the initial launch of the book at Whitehall, one of the Magnificent Seven heritage landmarks in T&T, and other LiTTributes held in the Caribbean, UK and Europe.

“We are nurturing and building cultural confidence so they emerge from any sense of marginalisation to self-esteem,” said Rampersad, noting that “in the land of Walt Disney, that cannot be too lofty an ideal to consider, nor too much an impossibility to recreate.”

She recalled being tasked to recite before her entire school a poem which contained words that were “very bigly” and felt then the power of words to move apart the walls that also served as blackboards, and to build bridges of understanding through knowledge.

“It did leave me with the notion that reading has the capacity to remove walls that divide us,” she added, identifying some of the ‘bigly’ words in the poem as indelibly, phenomenal and unfathomable and challenged herself to put them into a sentence.

“Scaling first the walls of unfathomable words that have remained indelibly imbedded in my mind, I graduated into a phenomenal obsession to see those walls pulled aside so that we can build bridges and all share in a common vision for unity and camaraderie,” she said, to applause.

Rampersad said she was connecting with people who share this vision to empower youth and to bring diverse communities together, not just those of who migrated from the Caribbean, and who came from other continents but also the indigeneous peoples of the Americas.

She said her research on many communities who have migrated show the journeys have been long and treacherous and “there are still tectonic jostlings in adjusting to the aftershocks that are similar in small islands as continental spaces dealing with diversity—jostling for recognition, for access, for equality of treatment. Sometimes it takes over our young and not so young, and spill over in frustrated and violent and extremist behaviour.

“It is my belief that if we create tracks through the imagination for a journey beyond the weight of that history, beyond the erasures and distortions of historical records, there will be a different tone to our conversations about diversity,” she said.

“It was my interest in the village space that grew from my focus on a rural spot on a small island the expanding contours of the global village, and my research grew to encompass a broad range of interests that now is described in those bigly words as sustainable development.”

Many eagerly shared their memories of growing up in villages, such as those represented in LiTTscapes, following the formal presentations of awards to diverse community members, as Gary Persad and Steven & Margaret Chang with an inscription from the Tao Te Ching —an ancient Chinese text—“The Heart that Gives, Gathers.”


Dr Rampersad’s will continue efforts at engagement through heritage in Toronto, Canada in May at the Erin View Residence Hall from 1 pm on May 13 where she will speak on Mothers, Motherlands and MotherCultures, and at Windies Restaurant, Scarborough Toronto from 3 pm on May 23 For details and bookings email [email protected]


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