My grandmother Gomes Casseres-Salas passed away 3 weeks ago. A day after her funeral a beautiful arrangement of white roses and eucalyptus arrived at my family’s house, “thinking of you in your difficult time, my sincerest condolences” from my kindergarten teacher, Juffrouw Regales. (This gesture goes above-and-beyond, even for our warm, hospitable culture)
Juf Regales, whom I hadn’t seen in at least 10 years, is now the principal of the Johan van Walbeeck kindergarten. I stopped by my old school to thank her for the flowers and to catch up. We chatted for over an hour… several chikitíns (translation: little ones) coming in-and-out for advice on their work-in-progress crafts for Culture Week.
A tech guy popped in to fix something and Juf Regales urged him to come back the following week “anto ku pótmóni gordo!” (translation: with a fat wallet) as the students would be selling their Culture Week crafts to raise money for a sound system upgrade. (She had to write a letter in Dutch to inform parents of their fundraising objectives and agonized over translating the word “upgrade”; no such word in Dutch! “verbetering”(translation: improvement) doesn’t quite get at it, so she just kept “upgrade”)
Since I couldn’t be at Johan van Walbeeck School’s Culture Week closing ceremonies and fundraising, my mom – also a JvW alum – kindly agreed to give me (and us) a full account. (Thanks Ma!)
Teachers, parents and kindergarten-through-6th grade students dressed in their interpretation of traditional folklore costumes and gathered under the overdekte (translation: covered area) to admire each others’ creations and dance to local music. Hand-made flags representing our hodge-podge culture decorated the walls: South Africa, Venezuela, Haiti, Lebanon, Portugal, Colombia, China, Suriname, the Netherlands, to name a few.
The students were proud to show off their handcrafts, made of all-natural things: calabash, sand, pebbles, shells, boonch’i flamboyan, coconuts, driftwood etc. As you can see, they love painting in bright vivid colors, and our traditional Kunuku houses feature prominently in their whimsical architecture.
They also sold ko’i dushi di Kòrsou such as lèter, tèrt, ko’i lechi and chukulati kayente (translation: hot chocolate) [All of these are Awesome in their own right and will follow in posted recipes. Stay tuned!]
We wish the entire Johan van Walbeeck community a very big Pabien for organizing such a fun and creative event in celebration of our rich culture. And a very special thanks to Mrs. Sanches-Koffie, principal of the Johan van Walbeeck Elementary School and Juf Regales, as well as their team of awesome teachers. Keep up the great work!