Understanding our island's rich heritage is important

October 11, 2023

USM History and Culture Course is an important part of the academic curriculum, and all students are required to take it. This reflects our commitment to developing well-rounded individuals who understand the importance of their surroundings and can positively contribute to society.
Pond Island. The University of St. Martin offers an intensive History and Culture (HIS 190) course that deeply explores the island's past and present. Mrs. Juliana Hodge-Shipley, the dedicated Division Head, and Ms. Marcelia Henry, the HIS 190-course instructor, work together to make the course a transformative educational experience for both students and visitors.

Last week, a visiting faculty member, Professor Dr. Jonathan Gayles from Georgia State University (GSU), USA, met with Mrs. Hodge-Shipley, the USM team, and students. His desire to establish a student exchange program between his university and USM was the driving force behind his visit to St. Martin.

The USM team took Professor Gayles on their tour, which is a part of the HIS 190 course. The historical tour of the island was developed to enrich our educational experiences,” Marcellia Henry shared with Professor Gayles. They explored the island's history and culture, from significant landmarks to hidden gems, providing insights that are essential to the History and Culture Course's curriculum.

Professor Gayles's visit to Sint Maarten was to prepare for a student exchange trip slated for 2025. One of the primary objectives of this program is to provide GSU students from the Africana program with an invaluable opportunity to immerse themselves in the life and culture of a black society outside the United States. “This experience aims to enrich their understanding and broaden their perspectives, fostering cross-cultural learning and interaction,” Profession Gayles shared. Additionally, during his visit, the USM team explored potential avenues for USM students to partake in an exchange program at GSU, fostering reciprocity and broadening USM students' horizons.

One of the most interesting aspects of this tour was the participation of a local taxi driver, who joined the group. Despite having spent years navigating the island, he admitted to learning new and exciting facts about St. Martin from the USM team during the educational tour. This demonstrates the breadth of knowledge embedded in the course and its ability to educate even those with familiarity with the island.

The History and Culture Course is an important part of the academic curriculum at USM, and all students are required to take it. This decision reflects the university's commitment to developing well-rounded individuals who understand the importance of their surroundings and can positively contribute to their community.

USM provides high-quality education and fosters relationships with local schools and businesses, particularly those in the hospitality industry. The island's economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and those working in the hospitality industry must be well-versed in St. Martin's history and culture. The History and Culture Course provides people with the knowledge and understanding they need to provide better service, resulting in a win-win situation for both tourists and the local economy.

Furthermore, being well-versed in St. Martin's history and culture allows individuals to engage more deeply with the local community and form meaningful connections. It fosters a sense of belonging and respect for the island's traditions, whether you're a resident or a visitor. This course emphasizes USM's dedication to knowledge, community, and St. Martin's vibrant heritage under the direction of passionate educators and with the support of local partners. Interested persons can apply here
The next intake begins in January 2024 for the Spring semester.


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University of the Virgin Islands Business and Technology Education Council Johnson and Wales University American University of the Caribbean The Hague University of Applied Sciences University of Amsterdam European Qualifications Framework Florida Mechanical Agricultural University General Educational Development Test Monroe College Mount Saint Vincent University Leiden University NIPA University of the West Indies University of Curaçao