Since 2001, Native Doctor, Wendy V. Coram Vialet, N.D. returned home to the U. S. Virgin Islands after medical school to help using her appreciation and education of nature’s healing abilities. Respectful of the wisdom passed down from grandparents, traditional culture bearers and natural healers, Dr. Coram Vialet is also knowledgeable of the need to educate the community on cautions in order to prevent accidental toxic reactions.
Born and raised on the island of St. Thomas, she attended local public and private schools then continued to obtain her Bachelor degrees from the University of the Virgin Islands and Syracuse University in the Biological Sciences. In 1996, she learned about Naturopathic Medicine, realizing her life path as a healing facilitator. She graduated in June of 2000 with a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and in March of 2001, she became certified in Naturopathic Midwifery.
“I returned home to assist the people of the Virgin Islands in achieving a better quality of life through optimal health and wellness measures,” she said.
Listen to more about Dr. Coram Vialet:
Since there was no legislation for naturopathy in the Virgin Islands, at the time when she returned, Dr. Coram Vialet served as a Naturopathic Medicine pioneer and was instrumental in passing legislation (V. I. Code: TITLE TWENTY-SEVEN Professions and Occupations Chapter 4. Naturopathic Physician Licensing) to license naturopathic physicians in the territory.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Dr. Coram Vialet is currently the Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness at the University of the Virgin Islands. Prior to running for political office in 2014, Dr. Coram Vialet was also employed as the Director for the University’s Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism. She has been most endorsed by her LinkedIn networking community in the areas of leadership, teaching, higher education, public speaking, research and community outreach.
While serving in her roles at the University, Dr. Coram Vialet also provides office hours at her practice in two locations on island. As stated on her Facebook about page, Corvia Natural Healthcare Services is, “an established family health and wellness office serving the V.I. community blending scientific medical expertise and traditional healthcare approaches.”
In addition to her professional studies, Dr. Coram Vialet also enjoys performance arts. She learned her favorite quote, “Nothing is so complicated, that it cannot be simplified by hard work,” during her years as a student in the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra. Also enjoying pageantry, she held the title of the first Miss University of the Virgin Islands in 1988.
Father and son team, James and Jamaal Carroll continue their personal mission of empowering and supporting young men in the community with the Virgin Islands Fathers March this September 8, 2015 starting with a rally on Saturday, August 29th.
As an attorney, judge and most recently having previously been appointed by the Governor in the position of Virgin Islands Attorney General, James Carroll III, has what is considered to be an expert perspective on what kinds of things are needed to help young people succeed, both in school and life in general.
Judge Carroll states,”Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives, earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and college.”
“This has a real objective to get the fathers to go back to school with their children,” he continued.
Having gone through the experience of losing his own son to gun violence has helped to make it one of his personal purposes to affect change in the community by being an example for young men and providing opportunities for them to have better chance at succeeding.
James’ son, Jamaal Carroll, currently holds the position of Anti Violence and Peace Initiative Coordinator at the University of the Virgin Islands. This position gives Jamaal the opportunity both to support some of his family’s initiatives as well as those directly related to the University’s students.
In addition to the V.I. Walk/Run Against Violence and Peace Walk, another of their initiatives is the VI Father’s March where they collaborate with other organizations to encourage fathers to take their children to school on the first day as well as support them throughout the school year. In preparation for the March, they hold a public barbeque and community event where they give out certificates, vouchers for free haircuts, t-shirts and other giveaways at a precursory Rally for Father’s March. They have the fathers say a pledge, committing to support their children on the first day of school and beyond.
This year, the Rally will take place on Saturday, August 29th, from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the Emile Griffith Park and on September 8th, fathers will go to school with their children as part of their V.I. Fathers March.
Empress PJ Crosby, poet, playwright, director, is transforming Virgin Islands youth, through the arts at Pistarckle Theatre each summer on St. Thomas. Born in London, England and raised in Long Island, NY Empress PJ Crosby has been working with the youth since she was a youth and is an active outreach teacher of spoken word and poetry.
Over the years, Empress PJ has repeatedly travelled with her programs to St. Thomas where she teaches children during the summers at the Pistackle Theatre. Since 2012, she has returned annually to teach her leadership program. Funded by a grant from the V.I. Department of Labor, “Stopping Crime Starts at the Roots!!” her youth playwright camp is now in its fourth year.
PJ has also taught at Kidscope Inc., which serves child victims of abuse, neglect and sexual molestation on St. Thomas. She says that what strongly influenced her interest and drive for working with youth was active involvement with organizations such as the Student Government, Campus Women’s Collective and the Honor Society during her college years.
Released on January 22, 2011, A Journey With Empress PJ is her debut solo CD. As an active freestyler, writer, poet, public speaker and mentor, while on island, she also continues to use her talents while performing at The Rock Collective’s The Rock Lounge or mentoring youth in the Virgin Islands and abroad.
Organized by the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES) office, in collaboration with other agencies, the UVICES held the Agricultural Enrichment Summer Camp (AESC), officially merging two types of agriculture related youth organizations (Future Farmers of America and 4-H) for the first time in the territory. The camp took place at the UVICES office on the University’s St. Thomas campus and was lead by their staff as well as junior counselors from various high school FFA organizations.
Earlier in the year, the FFA Hunger Drive and School-based Farmers Market held their collaborative activities in support of encouraging youth in agriculture while promoting general community agricultural awareness. The summer program was yet another experience for youth to engage together around the theme of agriculture education.
“This experience ‘kinda like’ opened my eyes. It gave me an opportunity to really not only look into just agriculture itself, but myself,” said Jonisha Aubain, AESC camp Junior Counselor and Charlotte Amalie High School FFA organization Treasurer.
Due to financial restraints, their regular 4-H summer camp has not been offered in the past two years. UVICES staff decided instead of waiting hopeful for renewal of funding, it was time to find a way to create another program for youth. The success of the program can be attributed through local partnerships with the Departments of Labor, Human Services, and the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
“From the perspective of our partners, they were hoping to connect these young adults, from their unit especially, with job opportunities,” said Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. Ph.D., UVICES Assistant Director of Agriculture & Natural Resources. “The success in this case is that we were able to make a partnership, a connection, with the Mahogany Run Golf Course who indeed accepted to have one of our youngsters, after coming to the program, work with them.”
The camp finished as of their closing program on Friday, August 7, 2015. The parents and general community were able to see for themselves what the youth gained at the camp closing ceremony which showcased presentations by the students that reflected their summer experiences while working directly with a diversity of agriculture professionals, including crop and livestock producers, landscapers, agricultural instructors, inspectors, enforcement officers, etc. during the six week program which began on June 29, 2015.
Ashlely “Ashanti” George, Albion “Chico” George and Dr. Petersen as well as other UVICES staff lead the youth camp during the six weeks. Photos were captured of all activities, guest speakers and field trips and can be found on the UVICES facebook page. An exploration of career topics in agriculture included:
- Veterinary medicine
- Livestock and poultry science
Irrigation and water usage activities and field trips included:
- Ivanna Eudora Kean High School aquaponic farm
- two local landscaping & plant nurseries
- tool safety & usage demonstrations
- Introduction to 4-H & FFA Organizations
- UVI Marine Science Center boat trips
- US Customs and Border Protection canine inspection demonstration
- plant propagation exercises
- local farms
- plant Identification exercises
- seedling production
- irrigation system assembly
Dr. Petersen reflects on the experience and shared that the six-week summer program successfully increased knowledge and created awareness of career and work opportunities in the field of agricultural science both for the youth and their parents. The second objective was also successful in equipping the participants with job preparation skills through classroom presentations, practical exercises, and field activities. One camper has gained employment at a position at the Mahogany Run Golf Course, a junior counselor is now employed at St. Thomas Adventure Tours with other potential job placements still in negotiation at other locations. As networking continues throughout the year, other students are expected to be connected to local businesses or organizations.
UVICES staff will stay connected to students throughout the year and will include them in other activities including the 31st Caribbean Agro-Economics Symposium happening on St. Croix from Monday, August 10. At the conference, FFA and 4-H students will present collaboratively on what we have been doing regarding the aspects of production, promotion through social media, and the actual market site. They also will share their success in the indoor systems they have used used a model for the issue of climate change mitigation.
The community can assist through volunteering their time and mentorship support, sharing the news of the activities as well as simply being present at various public activities to congratulate and further encourage the youth.
“We’ve had no 4-H program for two years, the public has been calling and we just responded to that need. So we like to pride ourselves, as we said, to responding to the changing needs,” he continued.
“That is exactly what we have been doing for the six weeks. We also like to pride ourselves on responding to the changing needs of the community,” said Petersen, as they have shown in providing a successful and effective youth camp.
With a new location, The Rock Lounge, a monthly poetry and open mic creative expression event on St. Thomas, had about 40 people in attendance on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the recently opened E’s Garden Teahouse and Things. Found just beyond the easternmost point of Charlotte Amalie’s backstreet, at the bottom of Bunker Hill, the teahouse ads color and a new energy to the area of Garden Street and The Rock Lounge enhanced it even more.
No matter where it’s located, the same can be said for the experience according to Jahweh David, the event co-host.
“The Rock Lounge is an exciting space and place in each and everyone of us that is always ready to be nurtured, where our creativity can be cultivated, and community can be supported,” she added.
In addition to poetry, all types of creative expression is featured and the audience ranges from creatively energetic school children to teachers and senators. What’s special about the event, based on the audiences that attend, is the openness of the crowd and how that helps to promote and motivate those who never even considered writing, much less sharing their feelings and experiences in public. The hosts always encourage the crowd to show support for everyone that steps up to the mic, no matter the message or the method of expression.
Local musical and poetry performer Akingtafari, shared his thoughts about the over a decade of memories created as a member of the group that organizes the event.
“Being one of the original members of The Rock Collective has enabled me to use my creativity to be satisfying to my soul,” he stated.
The tea shop also prepares food, has drinks and is currently an art gallery space. Owner Judith Edwin had long envisioned a place where she could sell teas and things, hang art as well as other ideas before contacting Rock Collective members about having their event at the location.
Held only every second Friday monthly, the organizers have found a way to keep it very simple and easy for anyone to feel comfortable. Using only text messages, their Facebook page posts and word-of-mouth grassroots advertising, their normal location at The Frenchtown Deli usually only has standing room only by the end of the night.
The next event will be held on Friday, July 10, 2015 again at the Teahouse. To get notified monthly by mobile text as a Rock Lounge event reminder, send a text message with your name to 340-642-5851 asking to join the reminder list.
Branford Marsalis Parker came to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) as an exchange student from Chicago with the intention of building his photography and videography portfolio. He ended up being the main recruiter for students in the University’s Communications area and WUVI student radio station.
When he originally moved into the dorms on UVI’s St. Thomas campus, Branford’s initial personal goal was to work on his mission of building his own digital media resume. Instead, when his website class got cancelled, he ended up enrolling into a radio production class. Not really being interested in broadcast journalism, Branford found himself redefining his purpose and recreating his mission. He would use his new personal connections with the Communications students and radio club to give himself more practice with his craft.
His motivation quickly increased while merging efforts with Michael “DJ Temp” McFarlane, who Parker credits for getting him involved with the radio station and Communications program. As time passed, he forced himself to be more social and started speaking to people that he normally would normally not have approached, with his common random question, “Do you wanna join the media club?”
Soon, he became the President of the WUVI 4-H Collegiate Media Club, recruiting students into the media club, radio station backup crew and Communications Department at every given opportunity. He was then offered the position as the WUVI Student Radio Station Production Manager. Combining his new responsibilities, he saw opportunities unfold not only for himself, but for fellow classmates, non-communications major students in the club as well as collectively as a student radio station.
Parker was largely responsible for organizing, hosting or assisting with on campus social events that helped to make the student population more aware and supportive of the Media club and radio station. His largest organizational accomplishment, and quite possibly the most well attended student event for the semester, was having a standing room only event called ‘Wildin’ Out‘.
As Production Manager, Parker’s responsibilities included editing and finalizing all radio audio prior to airing, assisting with social media posting. He created commercials, promos and edited shows for uploading to the WUVI SoundCloud digital archive site.
As if being the on call photographer, videographer and President of the club, adding audio editing seemed to round off all of the digital media work he had originally hoped to build on. His mission redefined, Branford Marsalis Parker unknowingly worked himself into being the MVP of the University of the Virgin Island’s WUVI Student Radio Station.
On Saturday, April 25, 2015, parents, facilitators and young boys at the Family Resource Center Youth Intervention Program celebrated the closing ceremony of their Boys Rites of Passage program. The gathering allowed parents to see the various character building experiences and growth their children achieved during their months together as participants of the program. The free program is funded by the Department of Human Services, and starts in January and September annually.
Learning emotional and spiritual self management Tai Chi with Calvin Dallas students start the day off doing Tai Chi and Chi Gung to balance and center themselves with self discipline and focusing techniques outdoors facilitated by Calvin Dallas. Dallas is one of the four adult instructors at the Boys Rites of Passage Program on St. Thomas, VI under the Family Resource Center.
Photo Caption: Calvin Dallas bringing it in with the boys after a Tai Chi morning session
Teaching self pride and respect through cultural literacy, Dr. Celia Victor uses methods like The Virtues Project along with modern and basic history instilling a sense of accomplishment and possibilities in the young men.
Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Art Teacher Leba OlaNiyi teaches ecological arts and crafts to the boys along with African drumming. The facilitators at FYCIP understand that listening first, then sharing non academic methods of training encourage the boys to express themselves creatively and also become more considerate problem solvers.
Students display their vision boards with their mentors
If I borrow you my love
will you return it
battered and bruised
tormented and used
or will you cherish it?
Loving me like
when it’s really only been moments
in each others thoughts
If I allow you to let me come in and sit for a while
just enough to make you smile
will you let me leave
or will this
innocent effort of kindness
passion and mindlessness
be too much to let go
once you know
I know of the pain you speak
and I too feel the void you wish to seek
though I’ve not yet found it myself
the hope of it haunts me
my realities have become fairy tails
and my daydreams my reality
I create heroes and halos from recycled matter
than have no home
this gives me solace
when I can’t find my way
helping others throughout their day
allows me purpose in a world of my own
where even the youngest appears full grown
a pleasant Distraction
yearning for satisfaction
not my own
I feed myself
by fulfilling your hunger
If I borrow you my love
will you return it
feeling that you owe me
You’ve already paid
It’s actually me that’s returning the favor
Reginald Cyntje, a musician and educator from the Virgin Islands, uses artivism to help support those who he interacts with, listens to his music or reads his blogs. As a multi-media and nu media journalist in training, I too choose to use artivism and social media to share the pride we have in home here in the United Virgin Islands.
Historically from a background where the griot tells the story, which then becomes the history and fabric of a place, many artists use their genres to continue in the tradition simply out of the pure love for doing so.
Trombonist, educator and activist, Reginald Cyntje, shares his angle of being a Virgin Islander and what experiences helped him become who he is and continue feeling the pride in his cultural heritage and love of music, children and Virgin Islands history and culture that moves him to share his story with the world through his music.
Sharing experiences he’s had with people who’ve come to love the VI that weren’t initially from here, he often travels to the Virgin Islands, sometimes bringing along with him other musicians who are amazed by the natural beauty of the environment and everyday warmth of Virgin Islands people.
He tries to return home often and meets with young music students, giving them hours of lessons in his parents’ home. He feels that his mentoring of the youth helps them become better prepared for their potential futures as professionals in music and or in school.
Through an initiative that he initiated called the V. I. Movement for Change, Reginald has used visits to schools and his writings to find ways of impressing upon students and other people that they can use their skills and strengths to uplift the community at whatever level that they are at.
Taking his cues from successes in history and the wisdom of elders, his latest album entitled, Spiritual Awakening, shares some of the steps in the process of tackling problems. Wherever he resides, he encourages communities to use collective work and responsibility and cooperative economics to help solve their challenges.
Healing… educating… local musician Reginald Cyntje hopes to continually share with others a little of what the Virgin Islands essence perpetuates. A spiritual awakening unlike any other, he uses music, education, outreach and artivism to promote and welcome you to his home.
Author’s Note: When I was contacted by a fellow Virgin Islander about being one of the main local faces or supports for Pay it Forward USVI, my main concern was how much I would be overwhelmed with putting into it. Random acts of kindness are so regular in my experience that to now be responsible for documenting and sharing when they happen, immediately felt like a full time job. Similarly, when Reginald contacted my about being part of the V.I. Movement for Change, I had to explain my concerns of into being able to be a dependable contributor. As he reminded me, in reality, so many of us already naturally do these things daily without thinking twice about who we’ve helped or what we sacrifice. There can never be too much of us doing it and we continue to encourage by any means possible the random acts of kindness that continues to spread what Virgin Islanders and together our Virgin Islands are naturally about.
“Most people come only with the intention of purchasing local produce, but there’s so much more to experience than just the food, ” shared JahStarr Ras Koniyah, former secretary for the We Grow Food, Inc Bordeaux farmers organization prior to his untimely transition.
He would brag that, driving into the Western most part of the island, “the difference in the air,” is the first thing that changes as the city life is left behind replaced with the surrounding green hills and vegetation. The peaceful environment lays right in the middle of a small quiet neighborhood in the Bordeaux area also known as Fortuna.
Here children run freely and the one main road is only a connecting line allows locals and visitors to get into and out of the area. A large portion of the hillside is farm land and home to the island’s oldest Rastafarian community. Horses, cows and other animals can be seen in the area and on every other Sunday music heard coming from the bi-weekly Farmers’ market.
Here is where you’ll find many of those known as the caretakers of the land as from sunrise to sunset there is always a hand in the soil preparing for the next rains or reaping. Young and old assist in the work and also in the enjoyment of celebration when it’s time. Along with technology that has made it’s way into this community, you will also see random children running around the market playing games made of everyday items like basketball with cardboard water boxes or baseball with sticks and stones. Even a simple game of tag transforms groups of youth into flashes of color and happy sound as they run by.
Here is where local families are found singing, dancing before, during and after they sell or trade their produce with each other and visitors that may appear. Decades of memories and traditions color the stalls high-lit with red, yellow and green as well as African symbols, sayings and faces.
A relaxing trip to the Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on a bi-weekly basis tends to leave smiles on the faces of many and lighter souls return to their homes after sunset every other Sunday from the hills of Bordeaux, on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. “A long ride for long life,” as We Grow Food, Inc. co-host Empress Shaca, proudly shares during their weekly radio show.