Going to Barbados represented many firsts for me. It was my first time out of the country. My first time in the West Indies. My first time traveling with an all femme group (an all femme majority Black group I might add). Amidst all of these firsts, I learned so much about myself and Bajan history in a truly unique, experiential way.
While on the island, we explored so much of Bajan history. Our tour guides took us across the island and we delved into the incredible history of Barbados. Going from reading about the experience of urban slavery in Barbados to walking the streets of Barbados is a full circle experience. Dr. Marisa Fuentes describes the beauty, history, and culture of the island (then and now) in her book Dispossessed Lives, but to see the brilliance of Bridgetown first hand was unmatched. My imagination and experiences collided when we went by the Garrison and explored the archives with Bajan historians. Ultimately, our traditional classroom knowledge was extending from Chambers 1003 and being connected to our lived experiences in Bridgetown. Our scholarship and knowledge were not relegated to our campus but overflowing across borders, across oceans, and across institutional barriers.
The opportunity to study in Barbados is a life-changing one. Especially for me as a junior who due to my own anxiety, family needs, and finances has yet to achieve the goal of studying abroad. This experience allowed me to gain so much perspective and knowledge in a week (I can only imagine what a semester could do). It was incredible to receive a lecture from Dr. Tara Inniss at The University of the West Indies. Her knowledge of enslaved families in Bajan history helped me to inform how to approach my own historiographies. Engaging with her and her work, as well as other Bajan scholars, continues to inform how I think about the academy and the Diaspora.
The joys and lessons of Barbados will be a memory I keep forever. I will never forget the moments of discussing the merit of oral history on the beach. Being surrounded by my fellow talented Davidson colleagues as we ate breakfast and dissected the impact of George Washington’s legacy on the island. Our discussions, lectures, and tours all shaped how we further explored the production of history. All the while we were experiencing the warmth and guidance of gaining our new lessons under a new sun.