Caribbean Student Association shares culture, community

Caribbean Student Association shares culture, community


The Caribbean Student Association hopes to build a community on campus. Photo courtesy of Kameron Butler-Phillip.

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

The recently chartered Caribbean Student Association fosters an on-campus community for students who are associated with or interested in the Caribbean.

Houston junior and club president Kameron Butler-Phillip described the organization as “small but mighty.”

Daegu, South Korea, junior and club vice president Laila Donawa said the organization’s former president thought it would be a good idea to create the Caribbean Student Association because there was no on-campus representation.

“Our mission is just promoting a sense of community with students who come from Caribbean backgrounds or even students who have an interest in Caribbean backgrounds,” Donawa said. “It’s a very family-oriented, loving culture, which is why I think it’s great to promote that sense of community here on campus.”

Butler-Phillip said the organization tries to focus on cultural backgrounds as well as community-building.

“For the most part, our members, their parents are from the Caribbean, or they’re from the Caribbean,” Butler-Phillip said. “So we really try to just focus on our cultural backgrounds. We have a lot of fun just talking about how our parents raised us [and] different things that we remember growing up that are unique to Caribbean people.”

Friendswood sophomore and club member Sarah Saintelus said her favorite part of being in the organization is meeting others who have backgrounds similar to her own. She said her parents are from Haiti.

“Growing up, I was never surrounded by other people that had the same culture as me, so it made me happy that I was able to find that here,” Saintelus said. “I remember at my first general meeting, I met this Haitian girl, and I immediately geeked out … because I’ve never met any Haitian that was my age.”

The Caribbean currently has over 13 sovereign island nations, 12 dependent territories and 700 islands. Butler-Phillips said her parents are from an island called Dominica.

Butler-Phillip said her favorite part of being in the organization is meeting new people with diverse Caribbean backgrounds.

“I love meeting different people from different parts of the Caribbean because although we are very like-minded, there’s also so many differences between all the different islands,” Butler-Phillip said.

Anyone can join the organization regardless of their heritage. One of the organization’s five major goals is for members to experience different Caribbean cultures and understand how culture influences one’s view of the larger world.

“Some of our members … don’t even come from a Caribbean background, but they may have visited an island or have lived there for a couple of years,” Donawa said. “So they just enjoy coming to the meetings to mingle and get to know other students from Caribbean backgrounds.”

Butler-Phillip said last semester, the organization hosted a talent show, collaborated with the African Student Association and held general meetings, which they continue to do this semester.

“At least every two weeks, we have a general meeting where we have trivia about the Caribbean,” Butler-Phillip said. “We do little icebreakers so that members can get to know each other better … It’s a lot about community-building. “

Saintelus said the organization is important because it highlights cultures around the world that might be overlooked.

“We always hear people talk about how good Caribbean food is, but there is so much more,” Saintelus said. “There is a richness in culture that we appreciate and love to celebrate with others.”

The Caribbean Student Association’s next meeting is at 7 pm on Oct. 26 in Morrison 120.

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Jorge Oliveira