While they are there, the students will deliver copies of historical archives that are currently unavailable on the islands.
By studying American involvement in the Caribbean, the students are learning about migration, imperialism, environmental impacts, tourism, economic development, and the way that cultural identity is formed.
In February, the group traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to work on a project that seeks to give residents of the Virgin Islands access to historical documents that are currently only available in federal archives. They copied passport applications that island residents completed in the early years after the islands became U.S. territory.
For several years, Lee has participated in this project that delivers copies of passport applications to the Virgin Islands on Transfer Day—marking March 31, the day that the U.S. purchased the islands.
|Randolph students work with passport documents in the National Archives.|
Alex Fella ’15 enjoyed working with the passport applications, but he is especially looking forward to delivering them for Transfer Day because he knows how significant the documents will be for people who live there. “They will be able to see these family ties—they can see pictures from their ancestors who have emigrated from the islands,” he said.
The group also met with representatives from the Organization of American States and the Council for Puerto Rico Statehood. Then, they had lunch at a Caribbean restaurant and met its owner, a Jamaican immigrant. “We wanted to get a more personal understanding of what it is like to live in the Caribbean, leave, and become a pretty successful business owner,” Fella said.
|In 2011, another group of Randolph students went to|
the U.S. Virgin Islands to study water quality there.
Smith signed up for the American Culture Program because she wanted to get an American perspective of the Caribbean to compare with the perspective she developed while growing up in a British territory. By learning more about the history and cultures of the Caribbean, she has developed ideas that she hopes to apply as an ambassador between Caribbean islands someday.
“We’ve had a history of dependency on first world countries. There have not been as great efforts to reach inside and partner with different islands. We see more differences than similarities,” she said. “But we really are so similar. If we regionalize the area, that’s one of the ways we can become more developed.”