Exploratory Meetings with Cuban Delegation to Yield Concrete Results

Cultural workers, educators applaud opportunity to exchange ideas

It was yet another hectic day for the delegation from Santiago de Cuba currently visiting the island for exploratory talks with various institutions and stakeholders here concerning the possibility of establishing bilateral cooperation ties between the two countries.


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Following a courtesy call on the President of Parliament, Drs. Gracita Arrindell, who welcomed them to St. Martin on behalf of Parliament and wished them a very productive and pleasant stay, the delegation held what was described as a "very informative" meeting with the management team of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs.

Acting Secretary General of the Ministry, Mrs. Claudette Forsythe-Labega welcomed the delegation to what she termed "an extraordinary management meeting" due to the presence of the Cuban guests. The two sides proceeded to explain the structures of their respective ministries and how their systems function.

The more than two-hour meeting ended with the Cuban delegation offering token gifts from Santiago de Cuba to the Acting Secretary General, with a pledge to remain in contact to continue the dialogue in further detail.

The delegation later met at the Cultural Center, Back Street, with a group of cultural workers that included Mrs. Elsje Wilson of the St. Martin Museum, Mr. Joslyn Arndell of Tanny and the Boys, Ras Bushman of Freedom Fighters Foundation, Clara Reyes of Imbali Dance School, and Lasana Sekou of House of Nehesi Publishers, among others.

The Cuban delegation gave a power-point presentation on the organization of culture in their country and fielded several questions from the attendees.

Next stop was the University of St. Martin, where the delegation exchanged ideas with members of the Board of Directors in a combined session with the President of USM and the Dean.

Mrs. Valerie Giterson-Pantophlet, President of the Board, expressed enthusiasm at the prospects of cooperation with institutions of higher learning in Santiago de Cuba and several areas of possible exchange were muted, including an exchange of lecturers and students. The idea was also floated for USM’s undergraduates specializing in the teaching of Spanish to do theirt last two years in Cuba.

Vice Chancelor of Research and Post-Graduate Studies of the University of Pedagogical Sciences, of Santiago de Cuba, Dr. Marlene Esther Daley Gonzalez, gave a presentation about tertiary education in Cuba in general and in Santiago de Cuba in particular. She also offered assistance to USM in the area of curriculum development in teacher education.

Head of the Cuban delegation, Dania Mesa Valenciano, while thanking the USM officials, expressed the belief that concrete results would come out of the various discussions the delegation has been having with different instances on the island. However, she stressed that all the ideas would have to be taken up in a bilateral cooperation agreement between the relevant ministries of both countries.

The delegation will continue its mission today with visits to two schools and a final wrap up session with Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, under whose auspices the current visit is being undertaken.