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Trinidad And Tobago Literature Project & NAEAP Vacation School

By Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 11, 2002

Over the past six years, NAEAP (National Association for the Empowerment of African People) have conducted four vacation seminars in which we have educated over three hundred nationals (see enclosure for a description of the original proposal).

The program began initially as the "Trinidad and Tobago Literature Project" under the joint auspices of the Wellesley College and the Ministry of Education and concentrated on teachers. Later, it was conducted in conjunction with NIHERST (National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology) and Gender Studies, University of the West Indies. After four years, we changed the focus when we realized that there is a greater need for such a program among young people between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five. The program has paid out over $500,000 TT (US 83,000 US) in grants and stipends to students and teachers. Each student receives a stipend of $500 (TT), a book allowance of $200 (TT) and a daily lunch. The teachers are paid a stipend also.

Several distinguished national and international scholars have participated in the program. They include Bridget Brereton, Vice Principal, UWI; Biodun Jeyifo, Jonathan Culler, Martin Bernal of Cornell University; President Diane Walsh, President, Jo-Anne Burger Sweeny (Biology), Nancy Du Verge Smith and Wini Woods (Writing Program), Wellesley College; authors Merle Hodge, Wili Chen, and Earl Lovelace and calypsonian, Lord Kitchener. In fact, Lord Kitchener made one of his last national appearances at NAEAP's Vacation School at Holy Cross College, Arima, before he passed away in 1999. The program has emphasized literature, writing, computer studies, biology, and courses in the health careers. Each seminar accommodated approximately sixty students and was conducted at one center. In the past, we have used the Capildeo Learning Center, Couva, Eric Williams Complex at Mt. Hope and Holy Cross College, Arima.

From July 15 through August 15, 2002, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education (pending the finalization of our discussions) and Wellesley College, NAEAP will conduct the Trinidad and Tobago Literature Program/Vacation School in Port of Spain and San Fernando. Apart from our literary, writing and computer programs, we will offer a course and several public lectures on African philosophy. We are fortunate that several distinguished philosophers, literary theorists and a clinical pharmacist will participate in our seminar. They include: F. Abiola Irele, Professor of African, French and Comparative Literature, Ohio State University, Kwasi Wiredu, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida, Godwin Kwadwo Osei-Nyame, Lecturer in African Literature, SOAS, University of London, and Funso Aiyejina, Senior Lecturer, University of the West Indies and Anthony County, Clinical Pharmacist, New York University Medical Center. Selwyn R. Cudjoe, Professor, Africana Studies, Wellesley College will direct the Vacation School.

This year, we will select 80 to 100 students to participate in the program. At a cost of $1,100 per student (Stipend $500, Book Allowance $200, Administrative Cost $450), we anticipate that the total budget for the program will be approximately $110,000 (TT) or $18,300 (US). Although NAEAP and Wellesley College have committed approximately $30,000 TT, we will have to raise $80, 000 (TT) to conduct the program. We anticipate some assistance from the Trinidad and Tobago Government.

In the past, several organizations and individuals have assisted in this noble endeavor. We expect that assistance to continue. NAEAP has produced a 16-minute video that documents the work of the program and related activities of the organization. We hope that you can assist us. Please make your check payable to NAEAP and send it to NAEAP, PO Box 812098, Wellesley, MA, USA, 02482. In Trinidad and Tobago, you may send your contribution to NAEAP, Mollers Plaza, 16-18 Eastern Main Road, Tunapuna, Trinidad, West Indies. Your contribution is one tangible way to demonstrate your commitment to those who are less fortunate and those who need this kind of intellectual and material stimulus.

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