Caribbean Culture Shared During Banquet

The Students of Caribbean Ancestry hosted their First Annual Awards Ceremony Banquet in the Pavilion on Wednesday night. Filled with music, dancing and food, the event offered cultural perspectives with an infusion of both Caribbean and African descent.

“We’re highlighting Ramapo Cares for Haiti,” said Ketsy Pierre, President of Students of Caribbean Ancestry. “It brings awareness for the Haitian Scholarship Fund which we’re really passionate about.”

Historically, the Caribbean has been considered a diverse set of countries, many of which derive from African descent. Consisting of over 28 countries, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and Dominica, these countries offer a variety of different cultures and traditions. However, any student on campus can be a member of the Students of Caribbean Ancestry.

“I like that when people come to our events it’s not only Caribbean,” Pierre said.

With the Ekklipse Steel Band playing a steady beat, the banquet’s guests were treated to a wide range of Caribbean foods, including traditional jerk chicken, stew chicken, tilapia, white and black rice and Caribbean macaroni and cheese-just to name a few of the options.

“A lot of the food is spicy,” Pierre said with a smile and fair warning. “We’re trying to expose people to different types of food.”

The banquet began with both the American National Anthem and the Black National Anthem sung by Shadaji Williams, a freshman. Her performance was then followed by the introduction of the E-Board and a traditional African-Caribbean dance piece performed by Kevin Hurtado, a sophomore. After Hurtado’s dance, the Haitian Scholarship Fund was explained in full to the guests.

“The Haitian Scholarship fund is just a great fund,” Pierre said.

Ramapo Cares sponsors the Haitian Scholarship Fund, which currently supports two students. Originally living in Haiti, the scholarship provides these students with the opportunity to receive higher education in the United States that, otherwise, they may not have had the opportunity to receive. These two students, present at the banquet, are close to graduating.

“I think we’re one of the few organizations on campus that give back to Ramapo. A lot of people donate money outside of Ramapo-we want to keep it inside and help our Caribbean neighbors,” Pierre said.   

The banquet concluded with speaker Edouard Eli, poetry recited by senior Joshua Guillaume and Paul El Sadate, and the much-anticipated Awards Ceremony itself.

“Our goal here is to promote diversity,” said Pierre. “In the Caribbean it’s not just one thing-it’s so many cultures together.”