Service and Steel Pan: an Authentic Experience of Culture in Tobago


We started another day at our service sites, and today was an exciting new endeavor. Having a new admit is always unpredictable and so we were extremely lucky to be able to witness the admittance process including the review, discussion of possible diagnosis, examination, and creating a treatment plan going forward. It was the mystery part of medicine that made me fall in love in the first place, the being able to solve a puzzle and in doing so help to heal a person.When we returned to the guesthouse I went exploring and found a beach access point from the guest house, and while the beach wasn’t as beautiful as Bacolet Beach and didn’t begin to compare to Pigeon Point Heritage Park, it was secluded and convenient. That evening we did a driving tour of a local steel pan competition. The bands we went to watch were smaller than Exodus, and the locations were known more exclusively to locals. Because this was a competition we were able to travel the route of the judges and witness five performances from the steel pan groups in the area, all of which were fabulous and an authentic experience of the culture in Tobago. While the skill levels and enthusiasm varied from group to group, my personal favorite was the first band, pictured in orange, because they were passionate, and had unmatched synchronicity and tune. Steel pan has been a driving force grounding the thriving African culture expressed within Trinidad and Tobago. It is an adaptation of traditional African drumming that was invented on the islands and withstood the tests of time and colonialization. One such testament was when Christians decided that steel pan music was a sin, was evil, and attempted to have it legally abolished, but just as you can’t force people to stop praying in their own minds to their own Gods, it is entirely impossible to prevent someone from drumming a beat with their hands on their thighs and their feet on the floor. While you can see steel pan performances at tourist destinations on Tobago such as at Buccoo Reef for Sunday School or in Castara at the bonfire held each Thursday evening, the performances for the competition were an unmatched example of their authentic culture. This was also a great opportunity to start conversations with some of the local women, many of which were ‘mothers,’ and considered their job to be keepers of the home, the kids, and the husband and so they didn’t spend much time in many of the touristy areas we had visited. This was an unmatched opportunity to get to know the perspective of the local women, of the culture of womanhood in Trinidad and Tobago, and of how women here engaged in feminism. Thank you to those women for being willing to speak to me and I am forever grateful for the opportunities this trip has afforded me.

#Service #Travel #Vacation #TrinidadTobago #Tobago #SteelPan #steeldrumband #womanhood #WomensRights #Feminism

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