to St. Martin!
The colonial powers
engineered a Caribbean fragmented in terms of languages, as well as legal, political, and educational systems. Even though
the emancipatory movement of the last century began a process of regional exchange of ideas and ideals, active interaction
and profound regional integration still remain a vocation to which the Caribbean is called. This conference has been conceived
of as a propitious opportunity to promote the regional exchange of ideas and experiences, to broaden visions, and to facilitate
the creation of ever new networks across the Caribbean and beyond.
From the start, each
of the groups that make up our societies has been confronted with the challenge to reinvent itself within the concrete geographical
and historical coordinates within which it found itself—sometimes by choice, but often by force. Such a process of self-reinvention
was innovatively undertaken: our forerunners managed to weave influences coming from different corners of the world into a
tapestry of colors, sounds, smells, dances, tastes, languages, stories, songs, and more.
Today, our different
Caribbean societies are being confronted with the challenges of an increasingly globalized world. Not only do many of our
compatriots travel to foreign shores to study, work for a while, or settle down there for good, there are also thousands of
newcomers who arrive on our territories with their own needs and dreams, hoping to “make it” among us. In such
a context, even words such as “diaspora” need redefining. As always, it depends on the perspective of the one
telling his or her story. Oddly enough, the stories of disillusionment and discrimination told by many of our compatriots
who emigrated to apparently greener pastures resemble the stories related by the immigrants who are seeking to find a home
among us. We become the other, for better or for worse.
The mobility characteristic
of our transnational world means that we are often no longer educating our pupils and students just for our country, but for
Educating the future
generations has always been a tall order. How to prepare our young for a world which, in a certain sense, does not yet exist;
moreover, for a world that in many ways is not and will not be ours. Educating is about keeping the present in sight, which
is the legacy of our past, while trying to predict and steer the course that our societies and the world will be taking.
No matter how daunting
it may appear to us, the challenge to educate our young so that they can become full-fledged members of our society beckons
us on. That is why we are here. We have embraced the call to action and realized that our educational choices and deeds must
be grounded on a thought-out and concerted reflection that surpasses the borders of our classrooms, schools, and even territories.
With this conference,
the University of St. Martin wishes to contribute to the discourse on the nature, mission, shape, goals, and tools of the
educational endeavor in our Caribbean region and beyond. Education is an open-ended reality, so too is the question how to
do it in ways that are fair, efficient, qualitatively of high standards, and visionary.
With all this in mind,
we wish you a happy and fruitful stay on our Island.
The Organizing Committee