PHILIPSBURG – Today's youth take signals from our generation, United People’s (UP) Party Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake said on Tuesday. This is in connection with fellow MP Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo call for the promotion of nationalism, patriotism and cultural retention.
“If it is important to us then it becomes important to them. The aspects of our culture that have transcended generation to generation include our language, food and the friendly nature of our people amongst other cultural practices.
“We need to pass on national pride into our young people. Our forefathers had national pride but we and I am speaking of my generation, including myself, need to get back to basics and educate the young people and the next generation about our culture.
“The best way to start is in our homes and communities then on to the elementary schools. Parents and caregivers, let’s talk to our young people about the good ole days on our island. Let’s wear the beautiful national dress at events rather than colloquial western dresses. Let’s sing our songs and dance our dances every opportunity that we get.
“Let’s have community culture days when we meet and eat, dance and sing. Let’s make a start, the young people are looking on and if we keep this up, it will become an integral part of our cultural fabric.
“When we hear the Sint Maarten song, stop what you are doing, respect it and sing the words with pride. We love this island so let’s show this love to our national symbols.
“We must share our culture with the other nationalities, that’s the only way that they can know what is it. We tend to keep aspects of our culture to ourselves and then judge others for not knowing what our cultural practices are. We must practice it, live it and respect it then they will get it.
“Teach the dances in all schools, everyone needs to practice the culture of this sweet land of ours. Give the schools some of your time to pass on culture to the children of the land. Go in and volunteer to share what you know. The children will appreciate it. Our culture will be known and our national pride will grow.
“While some may argue that there are more important issues to be tackled in our school and communities as a whole, how can we aim to move forward when we are unaware of our past? As I always say "to know your destiny, you got to know your history. I always tell the youths of St. Peters, persons worked very hard to build up this community for you to enjoy, respect it. Togetherness, pride and respect are the key ingredients for building up and maintaining our communities.
“A people without an identity cannot be proud. I am a proud Sint Maartener! I am proud of the diversity that exists here, the fact that we can live harmoniously. I am proud of the rights that our people have like freedom of speech. I am proud of the opportunities available here to all people, the uniqueness of these two islands in one and most of all I am proud of the accomplishments of our Sint Maarten heroes as well as our present day people and leaders. This is why our tourism industry is as successful as it is, in the Caribbean we rank high because of these accomplishments.
“Let us as government sit with the teachers and school managers and understand their challenges, their visions and work together to provide a quality learning experience for tomorrow’s children.
As a MP, I have already visited some elementary schools where we had some learning sessions about government and parliament structure as well as our local heroes.
“I found that resources on these issues are lacking and are in dire need. To close, I suggest that we make nationalism, patriotism and culture should be introduced in the school curriculum. I know that the Cultural Artistic Formation curriculum for schools attempts to do this but we need this type of curriculum implemented island wide.
“I am tired of having conversations with our young people who respond that Sint Maarten does not have a culture when asked about it. I do blame myself and my generation for this type of response because we know the culture but are not passing it on vigorously to your young people.
“As a legislator we are there to educate the public and pass legislation that promotes our patriotism and culture as well. Our Education and Cultural department must be more involved in energizing our young people as it relates to National pride. Let’s promote our young professionals to hold key positions. This can only help to promote our way of doing things.
“Let’s look at the bigger picture, small mindedness; criticism, slander and distrust have no place in Sint Maarten's future.
While we welcome persons from many nations, we respect the diversity that this brings to our lovely island however we must ask that respect be shown to our culture as well and respect to our National Flag. Let’s learn how to respect our flag. Fly the Sint Maarten flag near to your flag, its respectful,” UP MP Maurice Lake concluded in a press statement on Tuesday in response to the call made by fellow MP Hon. Leona Marlin-Romeo regarding cultural development.