Earlier in 2019, two members of Caribbean Yard Campus visited Guyana and met up with the Guyanese Languages Unit. But what is Caribbean Yard Campus? Educator Johannah-Rae Reyes explained more about what they do:
Caribbean Yard Campus is an educational enterprise that is designed to network traditional knowledge systems in the Caribbean. It functions as a partner organization of the Lloyd Best Institute of the Caribbean. The great cultural diversity of the region has bequeathed to its people ways of being, seeing, knowing and doing that are informed by places of origin, historic conditions of arrival in the Caribbean and encounters with other cultures in this space. This body of experience, know-how, wisdom and values constitutes ‘traditional knowledge’ which has shaped the people and cultures of the region. In the movement of peoples throughout the Americas, the Yard has been at the core of a lifelong learning space – from womb to wake – and represents, therefore, a valuable repository of traditional knowledge which, if tapped, could contribute significantly to a culturally coherent path for Caribbean development.
Through creating intersections between traditional knowledge system experts and academic workers, Caribbean Yard Campus aims to produce culturally relevant approaches to development challenges in the region. This is realized through the co-ordination of various learning opportunities and participatory events for persons of all ages. From our many collaborative events with our yards to our Rainy season and Dry season programmes and community outreach projects, the need for mutual aid work becomes more evident to us. Some of the courses we offer are: Nou Ka Pale Patwa: Conversational Kweyol; Planting People: Agro-based Sustainable Livelihoods; and Panchayat: Co-operative Development and Community Organising. Our One Yard Tour 2019 is scheduled to journey through Guyana and Suriname. We continue to work towards the development of educational content, methodology, ownership, authority and ultimately, empowerment in a knowledge-based Caribbean society.
ABOUT THE VISITORS:
Dr. Ben Braithwaite has a PhD in Linguistics, and has worked with deaf communities around the Caribbean on language rights, language documentation, and education over the last 12 years, during which time he has been Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. He has published widely in international academic journals on Caribbean sign languages and linguistics, and has received grants for sign language research and documentation work in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Honduras, Colombia and the Cayman Islands. He coordinates a programme in Caribbean Sign Language Interpreting at the UWI.
Johannah-Rae Reyes is an educator, researcher, activist, and administrator, with a BSc in Geography from the University of the West Indies. She currently works with Caribbean Yard Campus to provide innovative, transformative training in areas of Caribbean traditional knowledge, and is directly involved in the teaching of Trinidad and Tobago Sign Language. She has experience as a sign language interpreter, has carried out sign language research in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, and has written about issues facing Caribbean deaf communities for publication.
Dr. Braithwaite and Ms. Reyes are currently working on language documentation and educational resource development in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Providence Island. In collaboration, with different Deaf organisations in the region along with ICT developers, Startl Reality, Caribbean development organisations: Lloyd Best Institute and Caribbean Yard Campus, the goal is to redefine what regional integration and inclusion could mean in contemporary times.