~ Mother’s Day Black Tie Gala ~

DADA! Dance & Arts Dimension Academy is inviting all families of mothers to stretch the Mother’s Day weekend into a holdover performance. Bring your mom out to Belair Community Centre this Saturday, May 20, for a formal event with prizes galore!

There will be singing, dancing, poetry and tons of fun – and it’s all dedicated to mom. There will be plenty of special surprises and there will even be a prize for the best dressed mother.

The apex of the evening is planned for 9:00 when a jaw-dropping precession of all the moms takes place on the Red Carpet – just as it should be. Hollywood stars gonna take a back seat to the ladies who raised us, after all, who deserves the glam treatment more than Mom?!

Each guest will receive a free welcome drink and there will be additional food and drink on sale. The fun starts at 6:30pm. Prices are $20 for adults and $15 for kids. Get your tickets from any of the DADA family or from Janek’s Boutique.

Call 1 (721) 523-4436 or 522-5801 for more information, or look up their facebook page: Dance Dimensions A.

Made in Spain

~ Tapas done right ~

Want to surprise your friend with an unexpected lunch? Made in Spain is the place, for a variety of reasons! First of all, it’s got the goods when it comes to delicious food. Second, the owners are so personable you are sure to become friends right away. But the best reason of all is the ambiance; no, it’s not a sea view or hilltop veranda, it’s the juxtaposition of warehouse exterior with a quaint and cosy Spanish-style wine cavern.

More than just an eatery, this is a hidden gem with a retail side, stocking lots of imported products from Spain, such as sausages, cheese, ham, olive oils, and a plethora of wines, including cava brut, and even organic wines. The wines are made by hand in one of the biggest wineries in Europe – Garcia Carrion.

Owners Eduardo Vargas and Susana Lopes are from Barcelona and came to the island a few years ago. They started with a wholesale distribution business, then branched out with the shop/restaurant. Made in Spain is part of the company Viva la Vida NV – the distributors and importers of Spanish wine since 2015.

We pulled into the parking spots just in front of the establishment for a nice lunch on Monday looking forward to the typical Spanish tapas. Upon entering, it was as if we were no longer in St. Maarten, but had been transported to a small bistro in Barcelona. We were immediately welcomed by the owners and given a table.

In no time at all, we had selected a tapas platter of sausages and cheese and peppers, we had a basket of bread, a bottle of olive oil and of course a great red wine to wash it all down! Heaven.

Oh, you want details? Okay… There were slices of Manchego cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain. This cheese is made from the milk of the Manchego sheep of that region and is creamy and firm with a nutty and slightly peppery flavour. There were also generous nibbles of spicy chorizo sausage, sweet chorizo sausage, Iberian ham, Llomo ham and peppers. The ham is from the Black Pig of the Iberia region of Spain which is fed on acorns and roams freely producing a well marbled meat with a distinctive flavour.

All of this was complemented by the Pata Negra Rioja Reserva 2014, expertly recommended for our lunch selection by Eduardo. We were advised by Susana: “You should put a bit of olive oil and salt in your plate, then dip the bread or meat through it.” Hey! When in Barcelona, do as the Barcelonians do!

Along with the tapas platter, we had an appetizer bowl of potatoes in a spicy sauce, which was addictive and delicious. But the main dish of the lunch was an exotic arborio rice dish called Black Risotto. This dish is blackened by the ink of the squid and it contains calamari in the risotto which is served with a dollop of aioli.

Some of the black rice dish went home in a Tupperware, as we had to save a little room for a shot of crème brûlée liqueur and biscotti. It all spelled a great experience, this mini-excursion into the land of Spain, the place is a must-see for all who appreciate something fresh and novel. While they are open for breakfast and lunch, they typically close before the dinner hour, but if you have a group, discuss with them about staying open later. There is no problem with that!

Info:

Made in Spain

Wellsburg Road #12

Cole Bay

Telephone: 1 (721) 587-9039.

Reservations not necessary

Open Monday through Friday 9:00am to 6:30pm

Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm

Group dinners possible with reservations

Closed Sundays

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: ****

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: ****

Value for money: ****

Ambience: ****

Fernando Clark will be hosting this year’s Laugh Till Belly Burst Comedy Show which is set for Saturday, June 10, at Princess Port de Plaisance. Clark tells us why he went on board as host again this year, about his life as a comedian and a bit about what fans can expect from him.

Who is Fernando Clark?

That’s a very interesting question. I am the fourth of five children. I have one brother living in St. Maarten and the rest are in the USA (with Donald Trump). As for who I am, I am the person that you hear on the radio in commercials and on talk shows. I am the face you saw as a presenter of the nightly AVS News. I am the person you see as the Master of Ceremonies for various events on the island. I am the guy who makes you laugh. I am no stranger to the St. Maarten community.

How would you describe yourself?

Easy going, like a lot of fun and laughter; but when it comes to my work, that is when I put on my serious hat. There are two sides to me, the fun and laughter side and the serious side. Sometimes I mix the serious and the fun; but when I have to, I keep them separated.

Education?

All my schooling was done in Aruba where I was born and I actually graduated with the subjects biology, chemistry and mathematics. But after school, I went into banking and finance. I worked in banking for 36 years and followed many banking and financial courses, so I always considered myself to be a banker. I also did some courses in communication and marketing. I combined all of them and created a product called Fernando Clark.

When did you discover your love for comedy?

Early in secondary school – I was asked to be the MC for school activities. But even before that, I enjoyed making people laugh. I loved to entertain. Then when I came to St. Maarten, I continued the trend. But it was during my school days that I actually discovered that I had what it takes to make people laugh. In those days, comedy was not as big as it is now, so people referred to a comedian as a payaso, which is Spanish for clown. So to aspire to be a comedian back then was not a big thing. Parents didn’t feel proud to introduce their child as “Meet my son, the clown.”

How did you get into the industry professionally?

There were people who kept telling me that I can do it; and they organised the first stand-up comedy show in St. Maarten. Entrance was free. The hall was packed and thereafter we did more shows. But it was my Fernando Clark RAW CD that got me to the Apollo Theatre in New York, and after that, it was smooth sailing. That was back in 1995. After that, I received invitations to perform in other countries. And that is when I started using my talent professionally.

What do you love about comedy?

Laughter is like a medication. It releases stress. I feel like a doctor when I make people laugh. Sometimes I encounter angry people and after making them laugh, they are a different person. If I can make people happy, release their stress and tension, then I feel that I have in some way contributed to somebody’s wellbeing. Could you imagine how life would be if there was no laughter? No comedy? I also love to hear a good joke. I love to laugh too, so I enjoy being entertained.

Why did you decide to host the LTBB comedy show?

For the opportunity to work with comedians from different countries. Imagine, we have a comedian from Africa. It will be fun working with him. I am sure he will bring a completely different style of comedy to St. Maarten. Each one has different styles and ways of bringing comedy across. So, it will be a mixture of good comedy. I definitely want to be a part of that.

What would you say to encourage others to come out to watch the show?

Miss LTBB? Are you crazy or insane? Be there. Come and release your stress, and actually laugh till your belly burst… Right now, comedy is one of the highest paying professions in the world. In Jamaica for instance, comedy shows outdo dance hall and hip hop parties. Don’t miss LTBB. Release the stress!

What do you think should be done to further promote local comedians in St. Maarten?

Many people think it is easy. Once they start and realise the work involved and the commitment it needs, they drop out. But St. Maarten has many great talented potential comedians. They need to be motivated and eventually compensated for their talent. But it starts with the individual person. We should not rely on others to pave the road for us, we have to make that first step.

What inspires you when it comes to creating your funny material?

Society. I look around, see funny things and write it in such a way to make people laugh and wonder: “How he came up with that?” In my last one-man stand-up comedy, I took the challenge to do a part about funerals. That was a challenge, but it was successful. Can you imagine people laughing about funerals? Those are the kinds of challenges that inspire me.

What, if anything, is off limits when it comes to comedy for you? And what issues would you say generally make the best jokes?

Unlike many other comedians, I don’t curse. Many of them use sexual jokes, I try as much as I can to keep away from that. But there is nothing that I consider off limits. Family matters, politics and relationships make good topics.

What’s next for Fernando Clark the comedian?

On September 30, I will do a long awaited one-man stand-up comedy. You will hear more about that after LTBB.

If you could invite three persons (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?

If I have to invite them one at a time, it would be the late Dr. Claude Wathey, Vance James Jr. and Eldridge Van Putten, separately. That way, I know there would be no fighting. I would serve them KFC. If I had to invite three people together, I would invite The Mighty Sparrow, Paul Keens Douglas and King T-Mo. I know we would have a great conversation and lots of fun. I wouldn’t serve anything. T-Mo is a great chef, he would knock up something for them to eat.

In the HOTSEATwith Veraguas

Sailor, Captain, Boat-Bar Owner

“My dad was a boat-builder and he had my brothers and me out in the water from a very young age,” says Stefan Veraguas, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale. Hailing from a family of sailors, it isn’t surprising that Stefan ended up following a career path as captain aboard a variety of boats.

When he first sailed into Caribbean waters 18 years ago, he was blown away by our little rock. Today Stefan, his brother Daniel and girlfriend Kristen have made Sint Maarten their home and hope to be part of the community through their new business and charity work.

JabJabs their bar was officially opened just a few weeks ago. It has been in the Veraguas family for many years, but instead of sailing her like they used to as kids; she is now geared up for more “adult” play with a fully stocked bar, live music and all the right party-vibes.

Why did you decide to move to Sint Maarten?

I loved Sint Maarten from the moment I set foot on it. Besides having all the obvious Caribbean assets – sea, sun, sand – it is a sailing hub and a fun island with a lot of things to do.

How did the idea for JabJabs come about?

My brother Daniel and I actually have wanted to work on a project together for a while. JabJabs has been in our family since I was 13 years old. We lived on her for a bit and used to sail her as a family. Five years ago, my dad told us he was selling her. Right away I called my brother. Willy T’s is a popular floating-boat-bar in the British Virgin Islands, and we thought: “This would be great for Sint Maarten too!” We bought JabJabs and started transforming her.

Tell us more about JabJabs and her transformation.

JabJabs is an 86-foot Sparkman Stevens, built in 1958 for a Duke in Amsterdam. Today she is still sea-worthy. After a few minor repairs, we sailed her down to Sint Maarten. Here we did all the construction to modify her into a bar. A lot of the rebar used for the railings and roof is actually from old causeway construction material! It took us three years to officially open her for business. This could have been done quicker with outside investments, but we wanted the business to stay between my brother and me. Today our hard work has paid off!

Who does what on JabJabs?

My brother is the main guy overseeing the construction; he is the welder, carpenter and all around handyman that made (and is still making) all the improvements to our floating-bar. Kristen is a trained chef and sommelier; she helps me behind the bar and logistics at the moment and will play a big part in getting our restaurant up and running. I am managing director and oversee everything else!

What were some of the reactions of your customers the first time they went on board JabJabs?

They loved it! We have been getting so much positive feedback, which of course makes us feel great and motivated in return. We have a fully-stocked bar, a wide variety of beer, $2 beer and $3 house-liquor happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00pm, free Wi-Fi, 360-degree views, fun vibes and live music events. You should come and check JabJabs out too!

What else are you adding to JabJabs in the coming months?

A few more lights, bar-appliances and we are aiming to open a restaurant aboard by this summer! It’s going to be a simple but mouth-watering menu of healthy, fresh choices. We also want to open for breakfast in high season; so that cruisers can enjoy a cup of coffee, read a paper and surf the web in the morning hours.

You mentioned that community is very important to everyone working on JabJabs?

Yes! We want to be part of the Sint Maarten community. First off, you would not believe how much gorgeous wildlife you can see in Kim Sha Bay; turtles, eagle-rays, tarpon, pelicans and more. So we want to make sure we are an eco-friendly boat that has minimal impact on the surrounding environment. We are adding solar panels as soon as we can, for example, to our boat and will limit (if not ban) the use of plastic.

We also hope to facilitate charity events. If any non-profits would like to hold an event such as a fundraiser aboard JabJabs, please contact us! We would love to be part of giving back to the community.

Do you have any exciting JabJabs events coming up?

YES! “Stell and Snuggs” is playing live aboard on May 21 from 5:00 till 8:00pm. Christel Astin and Jarad Astin use a wide variety of instruments to bring their audience on a musical journey. Their vocals and instrumentals enclose musical elements of Colombian Cumbia, Gypsy, Country, and Brazilian Choro.

How do people board JabJabs?

Of course if you have a dingy, you can easily tie up at our bar. If you don’t, you can swim OR just come to Kim Sha beach, you will see our blue tent and sign on the beach and we will give you a free ride over (and back). You can also call us at +1 (721) 523 8021 for a pickup.

What do you do when you’re not working on JabJabs?

Right now, honestly, almost all of our time is spent working on JabJabs! If I do have some time off, I love taking my dogs to the beach with Kristen.

If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?

Let’s assume our kitchen is already open on JabJabs, so we would all have dinner there! First would be Johnny Depp, as long as he dresses up as Captain Sparrow. I’d serve him a Dark & Stormy and Fish Tacos. I would also invite Ernest Hemingway and serve him a Whiskey and Smoked Marlin Dish. Last but not least, Bob Marley who would enjoy a glass of our Rum Punch while trying a plate of our Jerk Chicken with rice and peas.

By Laura Bijnsdorp

Adult Toy Box owner Pat Hunt says, “Male and female, young and old, tourists and locals, straight and gay; everyone comes into our store.”

I remember the first time I walked into the  Adult Toy Box store in Simpson Bay. I was 18 and my friends and I were looking for Halloween outfits. Sexually inexperienced in mind and body and seeing the rows of outfits, DVDs and numerous toys on store walls made me giggle nervously. My friends and I walked out of the store empty-handed with the overall consensus of “who uses these!”  In actuality, many of us were probably too embarrassed to admit that we did not think these items to be “strange.” In fact, we were quite curious. 

As we grew in our confidence as well as our sexual experience, we soon changed our tune. Talking about sex was no longer flustering; it was a regular occurrence. Sex toys became an acceptable topic and fun gifts at a variety of celebrations. I sat down with Pat on a late afternoon to learn more about Adult Toy Box, which she opened on Sint Maarten 13 years ago. “Everyone has a little kink inside of them. So I knew there was a niche for sex toys and enhancers on the island.”

This turned out to be true. Just two years after opening her first store in Simpson Bay, Pat, along with her good friend  Antoine, opened the second store in Philipsburg.  Antoine, better known to locals as Twanny, is still working at the Simpson Bay store. About her business partner, Pat says fondly, “He is a natural at making anyone feel comfortable. You are guaranteed to leave the store laughing if you encounter Twanny!”

This move might’ve been considered quite controversial on the island 13 years ago, but according to Pat and Antoine, most people today have embraced the idea of “spicing up” their sex-life. “The suspicion of sex toys ‘replacing a man in the bedroom’ has faded; as many have experienced that sex toys actually can add orgasms (don’t forget that women ARE multi-orgasmic), enhance pleasure and improve relationships,” Pat explains.

Sex is healthy; it helps your immune system, relieves stress, helps you sleep better, strengthens women's bladder control and relieves pain. Studies have even shown that sex can help prevent prostate cancer in men and improve heart health. Sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem and happiness too. It’s not only a prescription for a healthy life, but also a happy one.

The choices are vast. For beginners, Pat recommends, “First talk to your partner, and once you are both open to the idea start slowly. Try massage candles, for example, they add to the romance, get partners in the mood and focus on foreplay. Masks, bullets (small vibrators) and lube are also fun and great “beginner” items.” Walking around the store, you can find toys to tap into wide ranges of “kink” and for those with tastes that are beyond that; Adult Toy Box takes special orders.

If would-be customers are too shy to come in, Pat suggests they invite friends over and arrange a home party with Pat where she can showcase products in a familiar environment. Adult Toy Box offers discreet home deliveries too; so if you are “toy-inquisitive”, there is always a way to comfortably meet your needs!

Whatever your choice, be sure to buy sex toys made with safe materials such as non-porous 100 percent silicone and phthalate-free rubber products. When in doubt and especially if you’re sharing, use a condom on the toy. Washing sex toys with soap and a sex toy cleaner after each use also prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Most importantly, make sure to have the right information so you can have good, clean fun!

Pat: “We always encourage our customers to ask us many questions. This way, they know how to use the toy in the safest and most pleasurable way. Our goal is to make everyone feel 100% comfortable. You can ask us anything! Our staff is professional, trained, friendly and helpful. Also your privacy and anonymity are our priority!”

I experienced this “comfort” myself firsthand. My interview with Pat took over two hours because besides questions pertaining to the interview, I also ended up discussing my sex life with her! I walked out the door that night inspired; which made me happy and I am sure will make my boyfriend happy as well. Happy vibrations, here I come!

Adult Toy Box in Simpson Bay is open 10:00am-10pm and the Philipsburg store is open 9:00am -7:00pm. Contact info: 1 (721) 544-2412.

By Laura Bijnsdorp

Fat-shaming is the idea of placing shame on a person based on weight. This takes place at home, work, school and via media, the latter of which has brought fat-shaming and discussions around it to a whole new level.

One extreme example is YouTube’s “Nicole Arbour – Dear Fat People” video that has over 35 million views on her facebook page. In the controversial video, Arbour says, “Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up. That’s the race card, with no race.” She goes on to justify her point in the six-minute video that in my opinion is tasteless. Like many other “fat-shaming” posts, it appears to be purposely sensationalistic under a guise of “caring for people’s health.”

On the opposite end of the fat-shaming trend, a “fat acceptance movement” has been gaining popularity. Self-proclaimed “fat activists” fight to combat size discrimination that is experienced in employment, education, interpersonal relationships and the media. Unfortunately, some are just as judgmental as Nicole; condemning persons who “aren’t fat enough.”

Whatever your opinion, fat-shaming to “help” does not actually help. One can argue that fat acceptance can deny the negative realities of obesity. But fat-shaming is not the answer. Many people, especially those who are dieting, battle with the psychological and physical impacts associated with negative body image every day. The research is very clear that stigma and discrimination against overweight people make the problem worse.

According to a new publication of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), obesity and overweight have spread like wildfire throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This is threatening the health, wellbeing and food- and nutritional-security of millions of people.

The document “Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security” shows that more than half of the region’s inhabitants – close to 58 percent (360 million people) – are overweight while obesity affects 140 million people, which is about 23 percent of the region’s population.

This is mostly attributed to our unhealthy food habits. On Sint Maarten, it isn’t hard to see that our idea of food has more fat, sugar and salt. We eat a lot of rice and beans, macaroni, fried chicken and fast food and we drink plenty of sweetened beverages.

Body shaming is never okay, but we also cannot ignore the fact that too many do live an unhealthy lifestyle on Sint Maarten. We need to work towards better health information, nutrition warnings, reasonably prices, healthy food options, taxes on unhealthy foods and affordable exercise programs.

“A real woman is curvy” is an idea that is also very much alive on the islands. I think that is where the problem truly lies. Fat or skinny; both can be unhealthy underneath. The issue is that most of us can’t go a day without hearing, reading or seeing everybody’s opinions on what a human body should look like.

Bodies are not public property. It isn’t anyone’s place to fat-shame or fat-enable. It is about the personal relationship you have with your own body – YOUR OWN BODY.

The following statements are all incorrect: “Real women have curves.” “Strong is the new skinny!” “That person needs to eat.” “A true man has muscles.” Instead of throwing around your unsolicited opinion, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Am I healthy, happy, and confident in my own skin?”

If your answer is NO, you have to realize that you have a personal responsibility to be happy. You need to make sure you get a clean bill of health from your doctor; and just as people need to stop judging others on appearance, you need to avoid using “I am proud of my body” as an excuse to live an unhealthy lifestyle. If your answer is YES, great! Keep on doing what you’re doing!

We are real people – women, men and children – who have bodies that aren’t just skin, muscles, fat and hair. Our bodies include hearts, brains and souls with each needing its own recipe of food, exercise, love and acceptance to stay healthy.

Mother’s Day in the Netherlands and America falls on May 14 this year. Here are some fun things to do. Fill them in and give them to your mother on Sunday.

Happy Faces shows outdoor movie

Every Saturday, the Happy Faces team from Robbie’s Lottery will be showing one movie in one neighbourhood on the island. This week, they will be showing the movie “Moana” on Saturday, May 13, at 6:30-9:00pm at Belvedere Community Centre.

The movie is FREE and everyone is invited to come and see it. Be sure you are there before 6:30pm as the movie will start on time.

There will be FREE pop-corn, juice, water and perhaps ice cream. Kids will receive a small surprise – so be on your best behaviour. Parents of course are most welcome.

Check the Out and About each week (and the Kid’s Herald) for upcoming areas where the movies will be shown over the next six months!

Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has more than 200 nurses on staff; each playing a part in saving lives on our island every day. Nursing is not a glamorous job but one that we all need at a certain point in our lives. Unfortunately, we don’t often take the time to show how grateful we are for the patience, empathy, care and hard work our nurses put into their jobs.

Natasha Gordon, Jules Carty and Corwin James are three of these dedicated nurses working at SMMC. Like every caregiver; they have unique stories to tell: some sad, some uplifting and most of them inspiring!

  • Jules Carty

Anaesthesia Technician - Operating Room

Tell us about your journey to nursing.

When I was young, I was often sick. We had a big family, so I lived with my grandmother and aunt for a while so that they could take care of me. My aunt Ramona Illidge is a nurse who worked on Sint Maarten for over 40 years. As a child, she often took me to the hospital where I saw her at work and pretended to be her assistant. Seeing her at work, I developed an early interest in taking care of people.

Later I was sent to Aruba to finish high school. Initially, I was much more interested in playing music than going to school. Nonetheless, I completed my HAVO and had planned to come back to Sint Maarten to work at the bank; but my aunt had a different plan for me! She knew that the island needed nurses and that I enjoyed taking care of people. So I was sent to Eindhoven, Holland, and I became an Anaesthesia Assistant. In retrospect, I am grateful for the choices she made for me and I am proud to say that I have been working in my field for more than 30 years on Sint Maarten!

What skills should a nurse have?

You need to love people! If you are in it for fame and fortune, forget it! You also need patience, compassion and determination to be a good caregiver.

What about your job is hardest; what is most rewarding?

The hardest and most rewarding times are when you have to stand up and make the unpopular decision to be the patient’s advocate. This may cause conflict with colleagues, but everyone understands in the end that the patient is central and it’s about giving the best care to the patient.

It is unbelievable how caring people in the medical field can be. I remember years ago in the St. Rose Hospital when a lady gave birth and did not stop bleeding. She needed blood to survive. In those days, we did not have a blood bank as we do today. Whenever patients needed blood, people from the community would offer their blood to help those in need.

However, due to the time of day and urgency in this case, the nurses working that day had no other choice but to give blood themselves, including myself. Today that patient is alive and well. The most rewarding part is seeing how grateful people are and knowing that you have contributed to your country!

How do you see your future in nursing?

I will be at this job for as long as I can, next to playing music in my band and taking care of my four kids. I do hope that those responsible for assisting and facilitating the process for expanding medical services on Sint Maarten will see the value of this and also understand that it will reduce a lot of cost. Families will not have to be subjected to travelling far and can be right here at home with their families receiving quality care.

We have talented, trained medical professionals on Sint Maarten and it will be more productive if we provide them with the tools and facilities they need. Finally, I also hope that more young Sint Maarteners become nurses, become part of advancing healthcare on the island. We need you!

  • Natasha Gordon

Registered Nurse – Hospital Information System

Tell us about your journey to nursing.

I grew up eager to help people. This naturally progressed to going into nursing. After attending Sint Maarten Academy, I went to nursing school in St. Kitts. As soon as classes got started, I knew I was in the right place. Three years later, in 2009, I had an Associate Degree in Nursing and became a Registered Nurse.

It was my goal to work at SMMC, so I could learn as much as I could in the field of nursing. I first did a six-month stint at Mullet Bay Clinic and would then start working in the medical surgery ward at SMMC to my delight. After just two years, in 2013, I was promoted to assistant supervisor in the department.

Another year later, the hospital asked me if I’d be interested in working with the Hospital Information System. They were in the process of transferring paper documentation to digital databases; which improves patient care, helps preventative care and provides useful statistics nationally and internationally. They needed someone to manage the system from a nurse’s perspective. I said yes, and today I create documentation, train others and travel. I never imagined that within my profession were so many diverse things to do!

What skills should a nurse have?

My daughter often says, “Mommy, you’re always helping people!” You need to “want” to help others; during and outside your job hours. Nursing is a calling!

What about your job is hardest; what is most rewarding?

The hardest part of course is when a patient doesn't make it. It is our goal to make everyone better, so when that does not happen, it can feel like you failed. Although you might feel down, you also need to stay strong so you can focus on other patients you have in the hospital.

Besides that, it can be difficult when patients can become grumpy, rude or aggressive when they are sick or in pain. You need to be patient and empathetic in the situation. Luckily, once they feel better, they often also apologize for their behaviour.

It is most rewarding when you know you have saved a life. I remember a gentleman who had had major surgery; he seemed fine until the night shift came around. I checked up on him and noticed he had taken a turn for the worst. He was rushed to surgery again, which saved his life.

How do you see your future in nursing?

I want to learn as much as possible in my field and continue doing my part to improve lives to the utmost of my capabilities!

  • Corwin James

Interim Assistant Supervisor - Intensive Care Unit

Tell us about your journey to nursing.

I knew I wanted to get into healthcare from as young as 12 years old. Maybe it was watching all those old medical TV-shows that inspired me. I loved the idea of being someone that could help someone feel better. Graduating at 16, I was too young to start nursing school, and for a while my life took a different path. I started working for a bank, saving money and lived in New York for a few years.

This changed – thanks to my family who always supported me in my dreams to work in healthcare. My parents found an opportunity for me on Sint Maarten; it was an in-house course for a year at SMMC to become a nursing assistant. I worked at the bank during the day, attended classes at night and worked at the hospital on weekends.

Through a partnership with a nursing school in Curaçao, I got more in-house opportunities to further my nursing education until I finally became a Registered Nurse and started working in the Intensive Care Unit! It took me more than 10 years, but I finally got to where I was supposed to be.

What skills should a nurse have?

It isn’t always glamorous; there are bodily fluids involved, but that does not matter. I’d describe myself as an introvert, but if a patient needs a motivating conversation, I will be there for them. No matter what is going on, you need to put everything aside to give the best care you can to your patient!

What about your job is hardest; what is most rewarding?

It is always hard to deal with death, but as a medical caregiver, you learn to develop a thick skin. Yet when children are involved, my skin is never thick enough. A few years ago, a colleague’s child became seriously sick and we did everything we could; yet our efforts were not enough. I am a believer; I guess God had His way; but it is still hard for me to talk about it until this day or see any other child in pain.

The reward in the job is its fulfilment. We had a patient that was critically ill and in and out of the hospital countless times, but he got better. I was part of the team that made that happen. We still see him today; neither he nor anyone from our team can pass each other without saying hello. I made a difference in his life. There is no greater feeling.

How do you see your future in nursing?

A few weeks ago, I got promoted to Interim Assistant Supervisor of the Intensive Care Unit. Our goal is to make sure the ICU runs smoothly and that patient-care is at its best. I will be working in the medical field for as long as I am able!

Since 2007, the student councils from the major secondary schools on the island have joined together to form the United Student Government Front (USGF). This organization is unique, comprising student leaders from St. Dominic High School, St. Maarten Academy Academic and PSVE, Milton Peters College, Sundial and St. Maarten Vocational School.

At the onset, a unanimous decision was made to meet on a monthly basis. The goal of the meetings has been to share successful ideas and activities among USGF members. Participating students were then able to share the ideas with their respective schools and enhance or build their own student councils.

Since 2007, USGF has grown from strength to strength with each school contributing ideas and new platforms. The organization has moved from being a mere meeting and sharing ground, to one that offers leadership, financial and Parliamentary training, as well as opportunities to interact socially, for members and mentors of the participating schools.

In the 2007-2008 academic year, participating members of the various schools designed a “Unity” flag and walked the St. Peters school district to bring awareness of the organization. That same year, there were monthly USGF meetings, a board game competition, a Christmas party, and the first Youth Toastmaster Gavel Club was formed on the island. Many of these activities were published in the island’s daily newspapers. The games played by the members of the organization were chess, checkers and dominoes.

In 2008-09, the Youth Toastmaster Gavel Club expanded with Beginners and Advanced sections. Here, under USGF, these trainings aided the leadership and communication skills of the young scholars. There were workshops teaching Executive Board and Parliamentary Procedure Workshops. This lets the students understand the roles members of boards play. This is when CIA and LU joined and became active USGF members.

The 2009-2010 school year saw further growth of USGF. That year, the organization formulated its year plan with the approval of all high school principals and mentors. For the first time, a motto was devised to be used as part of all USGF correspondences: “To promote civic involvement, leadership, and academic excellence in a unified manner among students of secondary schools on St. Maarten since 2007.”

Early in 2010, there was a treasure hunt for the front held by WIB. They provided funds at that time to open up a dedicated website. This stayed active for two years. Throughout all this time, the games and workshops continued. Like previous years, there was a board-game competition with prizes sponsored by businesses and two social activities, all published by the media.

WEEKender met with USGF faculty sponsor Sinatra Rouse, who has been gathering recollections of students and former students from USGF to mark the 10th anniversary of the organization. Here are some fond memories of the last 10 years:

Georgia Nelson

Currently a St. Dominic student, Georgia has been on the board for three years. She says the parliamentary procedure workshop taught her how to correctly run a meeting and provided her a delightful way to make friends with fellow council members from other schools. “USGF has impacted the development of my school’s student council in major ways. Our members obtained skills that were an extension of their formal education. USGF taught our council members the right terms which are to be used during meetings, for example, Point of Order, Point of Privilege. USGF also taught us the importance of teamwork.”

Georgia finds that USGF contributes to St. Maarten by bettering the skills and the mindset of the youths. “In my opinion, students, who participated in events planned by USGF, learned organization skills and learned how to think logically. Students developed knowledge for project management, event planning, and fundraising skills. Students also learned how to work in groups, a developed skill which is beneficial for college life. Most importantly, USGF encourages leadership, which can only benefit our island positively.”

Georgia credits her participation in the USGF with making new friends and new connections, and networking. “I learned how to engage with diverse groups of people. I was also provided with practical experience which will benefit me in my area of study interest.”

Prasanjit Paul

This St. Dominic High 2016 graduate says he enjoyed the 2013 USGF Board Games competition the most. Prasanjit recalls that it was held after school hours in St. Dominic High: “That scholastic year, four schools participated in the competition – PSVE, Academy Academic, MPC and St. Dominic of course. This was the event I enjoyed the most because, overall, it was my first ever interscholastic competition as treasurer of S.G.O. [Student Government Organization] of St. Dominic. The atmosphere that day was fantastic and the people who turned up were amazing board-game players. I actually learned a lot of new concepts of the games from them that day. It was truly a day that I won’t forget. Everything went well by the end of the massive event and all the planning and organization my S.G.O. board had done at the time was practically successful. Being a part of the success as treasurer was also bonus and a wonderful feeling.”

“USGF was taking place even before I came to St. Dominic High School. Over the years, as I moved up the ranks in our own S.G.O. from class representative to treasurer and finally president, I have seen many students participate in USGF. Believe it or not, all those students have definitely benefited from this foundation. Specifically looking at the students in our S.G.O. and myself, we improved our social skills, presentation tactics and spoken word. The unity and perseverance of each individual student are always present, allowing others to follow in their footsteps.

“USGF has definitely impacted the youth of our community. They allow young students every year to express themselves and develop into wonderful human beings. Unity and integrity drive the nature of the organization itself and there’s always motivation and goals set for every student so they can focus and develop themselves by the end of the scholastic year.

“USGF has helped me become a better person. Honestly speaking, a part of me that I am proud of today is because I was part of a USGF during my earlier years in high school. I have become more attentive and focused ever since. My social skills have greatly improved and I can easily work with any group of individuals. The unity I learned from USGF has allowed this part of me to dwell and mature into the strongest attribute I pose today.”

David Chapman

David of the Academy class of 2017 recalled how much he enjoyed the chess match. “It’s a great game that stimulates the mind! USGF contributed to the development of my school council and it has given the youths something constructive to do in their free time. The USGF influence has impacted me in so many ways that I can’t even put it into words!”

Kim Lukas-Felix

This Academy student said she most enjoyed the interscholastic board-games competition each year because it gave students of various schools an opportunity to meet and interact with each other socially. She notes that through USGF, St. Maarten Academy was able to establish its Student Government Association; and over the years was also able to grow bigger and better by sharing ideas with other schools.

“USGF has made a great impact on the St. Maarten community in various ways, as many of the former members gained confidence to become leaders within the society, either at their jobs or at university. It also provided a platform for students to learn about networking and working together – attributes that can benefit all. It was through USGF that I was able to connect with mentors of various schools and create bonds that will last a lifetime. Activities such as the Parliamentary Procedure workshops helped to underscore the importance of time management.”

Sinatra Rouse

A faculty sponsor and tireless organizer, Sinatra Rouse shared that last year they gave out artefacts to the various schools to commemorate their participation in USGF. Each school was presented with a gavel, board games and a book about parliamentary procedure: “We want to thank all the companies and the society in general for assisting us over these 10 years, but special thanks to Domino’s who never hesitated to provide us with prizes and support. We also have a big debt of gratitude to Windward Islands Bank, Nagico and Bimaco.” Sinatra Rouse adds that the students and the school mentors themselves are the real stars who made it all work by their participation and willingness to do whatever it took for the betterment of the students and the schools.

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