The Daily Herald writes about the Foresee Foundation’s Soualichi Stories series, which premiered its first broadcast on April 13, 2020.
What are the origins and impact of the Foresee Foundation’s Stories series?
Contrary to other elements of St. Maarten’s traditions and expressions, oral history and all forms of storytelling are two areas in deep decline, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Yet, these elements of our history, our culture, and our island’s identity are central to understanding our past, present and our future. UNESCO St. Maarten recognises in its National Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Inventory of St. Maarten that “the cultural heritage of a nation or region is not solely composed of monuments and museum collections, but also of living intangible expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants…”
When it became clear that St. Maarten was heading toward a national lockdown order, the Foresee Foundation together with the NPOwer team and a number of committed volunteers decided to combine their areas of expertise in order to respond to growing concerns about the vulnerable parts of our population during this isolation period.
By this we mean mainly our elderly, the really young and anyone living alone or naturally isolated. This is a way to help these persons grow a deeper connection to the island while at the same time preserve an essential component of our country’s ancestral legacy.
The Soualichi Stories series premiered its first broadcast on April 13, 2020. Integrating timeless issues facing our island and our social ecosystem, each story serves to educate both youth and adults. The Soualichi Stories series strives through these legends to develop a more connected St. Maarten through our shared heritage, culture, history and folklore.
The fourth story in the Soualichi Stories series, “Why Jackspaniard Waist So Small,” is a legend originally shared by Tonton Butty of Rambaud, then interpreted and retold by Camille Baly. It was then gathered by M.P. Sypkens-Smit, in Beyond the Tourist Trap.
Now the Foresee Foundation is honoured to present Clara Reyes narrating this Soualichi Stories instalment, to continue to preserve St. Maarten’s history.
The story premieres through numerous local radio outlets beginning on Monday, May 4, and continuing through the week – see Foresee Foundation’s Facebook page for the full schedule. All prior folktales can be accessed through the foundation’s website.
For inquiries and to suggest additional St. Maarten folk stories and storytellers, please contact Soualichi Project Coordinator, Laura Hartman, LHartman@depaul.edu or the Foresee Foundation on Facebook.