During the trip the activities that are salient in my mind are the events that focused around interacting with the locals. I absolutely loved immersing myself into another culture. In a culture that is so welcoming, it was not hard to get acclimated to the charming people, the warm weather or the general relaxed vibe. One of my favorite social activities was the snorkeling adventure we took on Frank’s Glass-Bottom Boat. This was one of the major highlights for me because as a group we really bonded over the adventure we took together. We each did something that we had never done before. For me it was swimming out in the ocean to see the beautiful coral and fish. For Raqueal it was jumping off the top off the boat while all of her colleagues cheered her on. For Dondra it was just getting off the boat and swimming in the ocean. Because we were all doing something that wasn’t familiar to us we had to put a little (or a lot) of our trust in the group surrounding us. Thus, causing us to go beyond that trust and create a bond that I think is irreplaceable.
Another event that sticks out in my mind is the day that we did community service in the community of Sea Lots, at It’s Up to MEnvironmental. This day will always hold a special place in my heart. We got to interact with everyone from small, school-aged children up to an elderly community member, and everyone in between. On this day we also met with some of the students that we would be working/presenting with at the Symposium. Meeting some of the college students from the University of Trinidad and Tobago was a real eye opener for me because I had the misconception that they would be so different from us, when in all actuality we were all pretty much the same. The only thing that was remotely different was that most of these students were relatively older than traditional college students; Most of them being in their upper 20s.
The last event that really left an impression on me was going into the Success Laventile Secondary School. In preparation for this visit we had been told that the students at this school would be a rather challenging group to deal with. I don’t think that that assumption could have been more wrong. The students that we interacted with were no worse than your typical teenage students and actually seemed to be better behaved than students their age. The best part about visiting these students had to be the steel pan performance that they gave us. Their performance was one of the best musical experiences I have ever had.
All in all, my favorite part of going to Trinidad and Tobago was bonding with my peers, the faculty and staff and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I made lasting memories with people that I hope to be connected with for a lifetime.
-University of Louisville