Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2014 Contents B31
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Going off to university might be
a daunting task for parents and stu-
dents alike. The fear of the unknown
is so real that it can delay and even
prevent this upward movement. Fur-
thermore, studying in a foreign coun-
try brings additional mystery and
stress of some sort.
However, no need to fear much
longer. Here are some tips for first-
year students on what to expect when
you go off to UWI, Mona.
Hall orientation: While providing
accommodation is its main tasks,
senior students on halls seek to "ini-
tiate" or "brainwash" the freshmen
into the norms and traditions of their
Speaking from personal experience,
it involved rising before the crack of
dawn, learning chants and even
marching and running around a field.
Nothing too harmful, I think.
For concerned parents and stu-
dents: Please know that most uni-
versities, if not all, have banned hazing
and extreme forms of hall initiation.
Freshmen, my advice to you is to just
participate. Don t complain, because
this may affect your future university
Clubs and societies: In your ori-
entation week, you will be flooded
with requests to join different clubs
and societies. The purposes of these
are to create an all-rounded student
and to groom future leaders for the
world of work and the society by
extend. I recommend that you join at
least one club, because "All work and
no play makes Jack a dull boy." It pro-
vides one with a vast number of
opportunities for networking.
Lines...lines and more lines:
Paying fees? Unless you want to spend
your entire day in a line at the Bursaries
office, I advise that you arrive at 7am.
Even though you might find people
ahead of you, I highly doubt that you
will be leaving at 4.30pm.
Groceries: If you intend on study-
ing in Jamaica, groceries are extremely
expensive. That first grocery bill will
be a culture shock to you, as it was
to me. I usually carry as much food
as possible in my suitcases to cut down
on this monthly expenditure.
Pickpockets: Believe it or not, there
are people who actually lurk and wait
for young, impressionable freshmen.
Thieves know that freshmen are usu-
ally new to the surroundings and take
advantage of this fact.
What I did? Walk with as little cash
as possible and try to use a bank card
for all official transactions. Also take
a friend or a relative who knows the
campus and its surroundings, to avoid
getting lost. Lastly, walk in groups.
Rice and peas: This last tip is spe-
cific to Jamaica. Rice and peas, or as
I call it, "the National Lunch Menu
of Ja," can be found at every shop,
cafeteria and even five-star restaurant.
It is literally everywhere! No...it s not
pelau. It is a combination of red beans
and "seasoned rice" eaten with any
variation of chicken.
When I left for university, my cook-
ing skills were non-existent. Thank
God for my handy Naps Girls cook-
book. Take it from me, buy a cookbook
or go to a cooking class.
These are just some tips and per-
sonal experiences to show what first-
year students can expect. The uni-
versity experience is unforgettable and
gives one the opportunity to make
• Rawlisa Sylvester is president of
the T&T Students Association at UWI's
Mona, Jamaica campus.
University experience is unforgettable
Thankfully, renowned Surinamese photog-
rapher, Edward Troon, is not averse to a T&T
launch for his collaborative work on Beyond
the Shopkeeper s Counter; Images of Chinese
Life in Suriname.
The hefty photo-essay narrated by Paul Tjon
Sie Fat with substantial photographic inputs
from news photographer, Ranu Abhelakh, tells
the story of the contribution of the Chinese to
life in the lone Dutch-speaking republic on the
South American continent.
"Why a photo book about (the) Chinese in
Suriname?" Tjon Sie Fat asks aloud. "Would it
show anything remarkable at all?"
As a matter of fact, as the collection of photos
shows, there are absolutely remarkable visuals
associated with a Chinese presence that has
endured, grown and thrived since the first handful
of immigrants arrived more than 160 years ago.
The initial connection had been the Dutch-
controlled Indonesian island of Java in Southeast
Asia from where an initial shipment of 14 ethnic
Chinese were shipped "as a pilot project for
alternatives sources of cheap labour to com-
pensate for the end of chattel slavery," according
to Tjon Sie Fat.
Unlike in the British colonies of the 19th cen-
tury, African slavery only ended in 1863. Slaves
were not actually freed until about ten years
later--even as the Chinese had already begun
The momentum to replace African slave labour
with cheap Asian workers however accelerated
between 1858 and 1876 with close to 1,900 immi-
grants registered by authorities.
Beyond the Shopkeeper s Counter focuses not
only on the integration of the Chinese, but on
their continued, distinctive presence as a cultural
force in Suriname. The publication features pho-
tographs of Chinese celebrations, cuisine, art,
sport, religious practices, music and commercial
"I have a Chinese background," quips Tjon
Sie Fat, "is one of the many meanings of I m
from Suriname ."
The book also points to differences between
the several waves of Chinese immigrants includ-
ing the most recent influx not unfamiliar to
most countries of the Caribbean Community
and Latin America.
Tjon Sie Fat however points out that while
there are "contrasts between the older, predom-
inantly Sanyi Hakka migrants and the so-called
New Chinese migrants...one of the reasons why
Chinese migration to Suriname has been so suc-
cessful, was the fact that the migrants created
community institutions from the very begin-
By contrast, the first wave of Chinese immi-
gration into Trinidad occurred in 1806 even as
African slavery remained in place until close to
30 years later.
Not unlike T&T, the Chinese presence in Suri-
name has contributed to a national heritage that
is vast and varied.
In their acknowledgements, Abhelakh and
Troon conceded it was not an easy task to gain
access "to the personal, the normal everyday
life of people whose native language we do not
"An open mind, respect and interest for fellow
humans, culture, religion, language, food and
surroundings; these soon proved to be the key
to the door of this rather closed Chinese com-
munity in Suriname," they add.
In the end, their cameras did much of the
talking on their behalf. This is a photographic
journey worth a place in T&T bookshelves.
Photographing the Chinese presence in Suriname
One of the scenes of everyday life for Chinese in Suriname from the book Beyond the
Shopkeeper's Counter; Images of Chinese Life in Suriname.
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