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Marguerite Sezer- Vargas
Marguerite Sezer- Vargas

Editor's Note:

Twenty-year old Margueite Sezer-Vargas is a sophomore in Applied Foreign Languages at a university in France. She is spending a few weeks here in Dominica to learn English and get acquainted with the culture of Dominica.

Here is the second in a series of articles she wrote to the Sun Newspaper about her impressions of Dominican life from the perspective of a young European.

My week at the Old Mill Cultural Centre: a fount of science

I was told: "If you want, Mr. Raymond Lawrence can welcome you as volunteer at the Old Mill Cultural Centre next week. " I said : " Hummm … OK ?! "

Since the Old Mill is a part of the organizational structure of various Independence Celebration events, everybody is very busy in their offices: I'm here as an extra, to give a helping hand. So let's go. When I arrived on Monday morning, I discovered a beautiful place: an old sugar mill in Canefield that the government converted in the 1980's as a cultural centre. After having visited the office, I received a guided tour of The Old Mill Museum, when various information about Dominica are exhibited: influences, customs, traditions, history, etc.

Then, after having put thousands of stamps on entrance tickets, and translated many texts, I'm required to attend a lecture on "Koudmen", at the Arawak Culture House. What a pleasant surprise!

"Koudmen", a Creole word, is derived from the French expression "coup de main". Dr Lennox Honychurch showed throughout the lecture, step by step, how Dominican people could, in the past, live thanks to this Koudmens: mutual aid and solidarity. Whether to construct buildings, go fishing, play music, gardening or to travel, the goal was to get things done together for a greater efficiency. Now, I understand better where the spontaneity to help others, specific to Dominican people, is coming from.

Later, I accepted the invitation of Mr. Rabess to attend his Creole's class. Once again, I have been pleasantly surprised. I thought I would be a little lost because it was my first Creole class; but as Creole is phonetically very similar to French, I did not have great difficulty.

Another activity purposed by the Old Mill Cultural Centre in which I could assist: the Art and Events Management class. After two hours, I know now the key issues of the organization of a regional meeting and of a wedding (type of advertising, best way to manage a budget, how to organize the transfer of people from a point to another …). It was a very complete class.

So that concludes my week at the Old Mill Cultural Centre as a volunteer. This experience has been very rewarding for me, and allowed me to meet very friendly and educated people. I hope to repeat it soon!

Marguerite SEZER-VARGAS.