Rot Theme Night Takes Students to the Caribbean
Coconuts and cruises, reefs and reggae, beaches and boats – all these come to mind with the word Caribbean. The Caribbean Student Association (CSA), recently founded by sophomore Benjamin Moultrie-Grant, stepped into the spotlight with its partnership with the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall for the Caribbean Cruise Night on Tuesday, April 17. Its own Painting in Paradise event that will occur April 28.
According to Moultrie-Grant, the president of the CSA, the association is intended to be a community for students who are either culturally or ethnically Caribbean. In the “home away from home” atmosphere the group provides, Caribbean students can meet other students from their same countries: the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos among others.
Before the CSA, it was very challenging for Caribbean students to find each other. Senior Dejah Pratt, public relations officer for the CSA, said that if they had had the group when she was a freshman, it would have made the transition to a new country and a new college a lot easier.
“Just walking around campus, you wouldn’t know that a person is from the Bahamas, or Jamaica or whatever. You wouldn’t know that unless you have friends in common,” Pratt said. “So with the Caribbean Students Association, it just helps for all the people to basically touch base with each other because we wouldn’t.”
The CSA has weekly meetings filled with games, discussions and other activities, with about 40 members total.
One of the members saw an advertisement for the Caribbean Cruise Night and brought it to Moultrie-Grant’s attention. He then met with Duane Davis, the general manager of the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall, to discuss partnering with Sodexo Dining to put on the event together.
Davis agreed and the CSA members jumped on board with menu ideas, crafts, hair braiding and other entertainment.
Pratt was thrilled at the opportunity, especially considering that this is the organization’s first semester.
“It has definitely surpassed what I thought it would be this semester, especially the cruise night that just passed, I did not expect that,” Pratt said. “I did not expect to actually be a part of that so that was exciting for our association.”
Alexis Ferguson, a member of the CSA from the Bahamas, tried to encourage her friends to attend the event.
“You are going to taste things you never thought you could imagine,” Ferguson said. “The Caribbean food is the best food out there honestly. It is super different from American food … even if you are not an adventurous eater, just go and see what other cultures are doing with their food.”
Before the dining hall opened at 5 p.m., there were around 100 students eagerly waiting for the doors to open and for the event to begin.
“I didn’t expect for students to be into to it as much as they were. I saw some guys wearing floral shirts and shorts and I was like ‘Wow, I really feel like I am on a cruise!’” Pratt said.
Pratt was especially proud of the fact that the food was authentic since some of the Caribbean students assisted and made some of the dishes themselves.
Beyond the CSA community, the association hopes to share the treasure of their culture with the Liberty community. The CSA is planning its first independent public event called, “Paint-ting in Paradise”, hoping to provide non-Caribbean students with a unique experience.
“We wanted to do something that would interest the public and we didn’t want to do something that is really common and we thought it would really cool to do a paint and sip,” Pratt said.
Moultrie-Grant promoted the event as another way to engage with diversity.
“Our upcoming painting night is something like that where we want people who aren’t from the Caribbean to come in and try the drinks and taste the food and listen to the music and just experience what we have grown up with,” Moultrie-Grant said.
Moultrie-Grant has been pleased with the awareness the Caribbean Cruise Night and the upcoming “Paint-ting in Paradise” event have generated for the CSA.
Ferguson hopes that by attending these events people will be more culturally in tune.
“I want people to be more aware of the different types of people around them because a lot of people don’t really consider the Caribbean when they think of diversity and multicultural things because we are so small and so close to the U.S., we often get overlooked,” Ferguson said. “We are just a bunch of friendly people, honestly. We are different. Just like every nationality, every ethnicity has their own culture, but the Caribbean culture is something special and really something you should go out and experience because we love it.”