TAIWAN/CARIBBEAN: – Caribbean students in Taiwan will on Saturday, April 24, showcase elements of the region’s heritage, culture, and cuisine during an event dubbed “Caribbean Callaloo”.
“In Taiwan we do not always get the opportunity to showcase who we are and where we are from. That was the main purpose of [organising] this event,” Vincentian Tasheka Haynes said of the cultural gala slated for National Taiwan University (NTU) at 6 p.m.
She said the Caribbean students — representing Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, St, Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines — will “have fun together and partake of each other’s company and customs” and correct misconceptions about the region.
An after-party will be held at Roxy Roots, a night club in Taipei. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“Often times when we are asked where we are from and we say the Caribbean, we are either mistaken for Central America or India or Africa,” she told I Witness-News.
“It is going to be an ideal occasion where we can show them exactly where the Caribbean is, what kinds of islands we are made up of — just mix the fun with some educational aspects,” Haynes said.
Guests at the event will hear remarks from NTU’s Office of International Affairs, the main sponsor of the event. The show is also being supported by Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund and the four Caribbean ambassadors to Taipei, who will bring greetings.
A multimedia presentation, incorporating images from the eight Caribbean countries on display, will offer insights into the geography, people, culture, and cuisine of the eight countries and guests will also be served “a typical Caribbean meal”.
The cultural gala will include songs and dances, the modelling of national wear, stand-up comedy, a display of Caribbean attire and hairstyles, a steel pan performance and the parading of Caribbean carnival costumes.
“We are trying to incorporate an item from each [of the eight countries] and we are just trying to have everybody come together and put on a really good show for the non-Caribbean people we have here in Taiwan, so they can have a good appreciation of our region and our people,” Haynes explained.
The event will also feature an appeal for donations to Haiti, which was rocked by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, killing an estimated 250,000 people.
“Dr. Nadjy Joseph from Haiti is going to [talk] a little about her experience when she went back as a volunteer doctor to help and then we are going to have a little appeal, trying to get some [donations] for our sister nation,” Haynes said.
Haynes said organising the event has been challenging because of initial hesitancy among some Caribbean students and the fact that they live and study in different parts of Taiwan.
But she was pleased with the outcome of the effort by the members of the team that is organising the event.
Asked why the name “Caribbean Callaloo”, Haynes said most Caribbean people are familiar with that dish, the main ingredient of which is the young leaves of the taro plant.
“Additionally, we are referred to as a melting pot. … We are taking different people from different countries, who are similar in many ways, and we are putting them together in one pot,” she said.
She added: “Because, you know when you make a callaloo, you put a lot of different things into it — provisions, meat, dumplings, so many things. But when it comes together, it makes a really good dish, a really tasty dish.
“So, that’s the whole idea behind it. That we are bringing everybody together: different culture, different music, different heritage. But, when everything comes together, it would be a really good main course,” she said.