West Indies Club in Full Force

By Colleen Chasteau ‘15

The West Indian club offers a cultural explosion of the Caribbean. The club meets every Tuesday periods five and six in room A217. It is run by Ms. Patricia Heyligar.

The West Indian club has been a part of the school since the 1990s. It had been taken over by other teachers in the past but has not been active. Ms. Heyligar, who is of Jamaican decent, recently took it over and revitalized it.

A  typical  club  meeting  includes  discussion groups on  senior  seminar , future  possibilities  and  any events  that  occur  within  the West Indian community, for instance, the  recent issuing of the  first Jamaican Patois  Bible. On Christmas parties held by the club  in the past, members  got  to  enjoy  traditional Caribbean dishes like  curry chicken, roti, salt fish, patties and oxtail just to name a few.

The club is active outside of school also. Members go to Caribbean cultural events sponsored by several museums and organization such as The Brooklyn Museum, The Harlem Museum of Art, and The American Museum of Natural History. In February the club is planning on attending a Black History Month story telling tribute hosted by The AMNH.

Aside  from  cultural events the  club  also  works on  giving  back  to the  community. Each member makes  small donations to  buy  clothing and personal articles to give to charities including  Chip’s Food Kitchen in Park Slope which  serves  a large  Caribbean population.

Students don’t have to be West Indian to join. The club accepts students of all ethnic groups and backgrounds.

“Every year the club population varies,” said Ms. Heyligar, “Last year we had a large Caribbean and African male population. This year the majority of the club is Asian but we always have been a sustained club.”

Club members are given the opportunity to  share  and  compare cultural  views with each other and  learn  more about West Indian  heritage  which  has become  a major part of the  school  due to the  growing number students of  West Indian descent.

“The club is beneficial to members because they get to exchange information on cultures,” explains Ms. Heyligar, “It shows the unique features that are different, but represent similar concept of ideology.”

West Indian culture is becoming more recognized especially in the New York’s melting pot. The West Indian club is contributing in the spread of awareness of this diverse culture.

Like the Jamaican motto says, “Out of many, one people.”

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