Rekindling the art of storytelling via the radio waves
Season One of the Foresee Foundation’s Soualichi Stories project, the culmination of 10 locally cultivated stories, brought together week after week, and broadcasted on eight island radio and online stations, has concluded with great success.
The oral tradition of storytelling, as described in the First National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of St. Maarten, was initially meant for the elderly being in social isolation and not having access to digital devices, hence giving them moments of enjoyment and enlightenment in times of loneliness.
For that reason, Foresee Foundation opted to contact the radio stations and share these stories, as radio stations are a very powerful outlet for a vast majority in the St. Maarten community, especially among our elderly.
In addition to sharing these folktales as enlightenment, the Soualichi stories in times of lockdown were a win-win as many people in the community have for many years been talking about preserving these stories and recording them – as Papa Umpo said in his first story, “This is our story, the story of St. Maarten people.”
But though the Soualichi Stories series encapsulated these qualities in its folktales, it could not have had the impact that it has had on its audience, both locally and internationally, without its critical partners among the Sint Maarten and Saint Martin radio media circuit.
The Soualichi Stories reached over 30,000 listeners weekly, a large proportion of whom listened from international locations. With the support of the Prince Bernard Culture Fund Caribbean region, the project was able to reach its 10-story milestone.
In an effort to ensure that the project met the needs of all of its stakeholders as it plans for next season, the Foresee Foundation asked its valuable radio partners for input at the end of Season One via a survey that was sent out to all stations that participated in the weekly broadcastings.
The responses overwhelmed us, not only with their positive feedback, but also with the depth of their understanding of our shared objectives.
Here is what our partners considered so special about Soualichi Stories:
- Soualichi Stories is a wonderful collection of Caribbean folklore, mainly from St. Maarten, that showcases the richness in our history and the many lessons we know from them today. –Francis Carty, Philipsburg Broadcasting
- I would like to congratulate the entire Soualichi Team and the amazing cast for such an awesome production of bringing St. Maarten's history to life, in the form of these amazing stories. Keep up the good work!!! –Grace Blijden (“Lady Grace”), PJD2 Radio
- The Soualichi Stories are quintessential Sint Maarten. For many, these stories are a chance to rekindle some childhood memories, and for others, especially our visitors listening from afar, it's a chance to learn more about the culture of the island they have come to love. Our network and its stations are honoured to share these small titbits of Sint Maarten history with the world. –Jeffrey Sochrin (“Dr. Soc”), Island 92 Radio
- On behalf of My Good Morning Show on My88.3fm, we endorse the Soualichi Story series as a great initiative that speaks to all ages about their heritage and intangible cultural heritage. We are honoured we have been allowed to feature the story during our daily Heritage Speaks segment. –Alston and Mizzy, My88.3FM
- Soualichi stories are beautifully told and can make you smile, laugh or even scare the bejeezers out of you. NICE! –Dennis van Putten, Tunes Carib
- We at Radio St. Martin 101.5FM enjoyed being a part of 4C Foundation initiative of bringing the local community together through the art of storytelling, which is an integral component of our culture and heritage. The Soualichi series was not only entertaining, but also a tool for learning about our own sweet Soualiga land. Thank you for including us in what we hope will be a continued venture! –Cuchi, Radio St. Martin 101.5fm
- The Soualichi Stories has the potential to become a staple in the fabric of our nation’s contemporary cultural heritage and by extension an educational training aid in our schools to help enrich the knowledge of our cultural history for future generations. –Cedric Peterson, SXMGOV Radio
Our partners shared why they thought their listeners appreciate Soualichi Stories:
- Persons enjoyed hearing our local stories told by our own local voices. Persons enjoyed having a source of entertainment that was different than music. Persons also found the stories lively and at times even comedic.
- In general, listeners LOVED the stories. We even had one listener in the mid-western part of the USA message us to tell us they listen intently and then tell the stories to their own grandchildren at bedtime.
- Listeners have expressed their overall enjoyment of the programs and loved the acknowledgement of our culture & heritage that helps instil pride about the culture of SXM.
- Great initiative! A perfect fit within the 107.9FM program format and overall mission of protecting our island’s cultural heritage. We are losing our nations “contemporary history” (SXM’s pop culture).
Our partners also had suggestions about how Soualichi Stories could be made even better:
- At Radio St. Martin, we were already looking for different ways that we could engage our audiences during Covid-19… Needless to say, the production surpassed what we had expected and we thoroughly enjoyed being part of this endeavour. The only suggestion we have is to have even more local personalities tell our stories. Also maybe a compilation could be made of all the stories as a CD that could be made available to teachers.
- Try to capture the current historical milestones within our Caribbean Culture.
We hope you have enjoyed the inspiring St. Maarten legends included in the first season of Soualichi Stories, as presented by the Foresee Foundation and funded by the Prince Bernard Culture Fund Dutch Caribbean. The team thanks all radio partners, an essential part of making this project a reality.
It has been our objective that these stories help all who hear them to feel more connected to this island and to each other. More information on the stories can be found on Foresee Foundation’s Facebook page and website. Later this year, Foresee Foundation hopes to share more exciting stories told by St. Maa’ten People in season two.