Leeds City College of Music Embarks on Cultural Exchange Tour in Antigua

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Leeds City College of Music Embarks on Cultural Exchange Tour in Antigua

[St. John’s, Antigua] – The Caribbean Elective Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries and the Antigua and Barbuda High Commission is proud to announce its expansion into Antigua and Barbuda, scheduled from 8th February to 3rd March 2024. The programme, which has been successfully operating in St Lucia since 2016, is funded by the United Kingdom Government Turing Scheme. The expansion into Antigua and Barbuda aims to foster international collaboration and celebrate the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

During this first tour, two groups consisting of seventeen (17) students and four (4) staff members from Leeds City College of Music and City College Plymouth will participate in a series of enriching experiences. Both groups, consisting of a music ensemble from Leeds and an environmental science team from Plymouth will be visiting prominent landmarks across the twin island nation. As part of the cultural exchange, the group will immerse themselves in steel pan classes and engage in craft and creative dance workshops, further deepening their appreciation for Antigua and Barbuda’s music traditions. Additionally, participants will embark on tours to explore the island’s natural beauty attractions, including hiking trails and visiting historical sites.

The groups met with the Honourable Daryll Matthew, Minister of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries. Highlighting the significance of cultural exchanges, the Minister commented: “I was privileged to meet the founders of the Caribbean Elective expansion programme Sergio Fedee and Harry Spear in London in 2023 where I endorsed this initiative. I am pleased that the first cohort of students have arrived safely. This initiative between Leeds City College of Music and Antigua and Barbuda exemplifies the transformative power of music and education. This trip not only strengthens international ties but also fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of our shared heritage. I commend Her Excellency High Commissioner Karen-Mae Hill and Mrs. Caryl Edwards-Lewis for their dedication in organising this endeavour, which will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on all involved.”

According to Mrs Edwards-Lewis, Education Officer for the Performing Arts and Music: “Educational experiences like these play a crucial role in breaking down barriers between cultures, fostering understanding, tolerance and mutual respect. By immersing ourselves in diverse environments and collaborating with local communities, we not only expand our knowledge but also cultivate empathy and appreciation for our shared humanity.” The groups will also meet with His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, to gain insights into the restoration efforts at Government House.

According to Harry Spear “We believe youth tourism can be used as a force for good and when implemented correctly can have a lasting and significant impact across the Caribbean region. Caribbean Electives harnesses the natural creativity and determination of our young people and helps them collaborate with local organisation to support growth across Antigua and Barbuda”.

The itinerary for Leeds City College of Music includes music practice sessions at various schools across Antigua, including Antigua Girls’ High School, Antigua Grammar School, Pares Secondary School, Island Academy International, Irene B. Williams, Clare Hall Secondary, Princess Margaret Secondary and St. Anthony’s Secondary. The culmination of this enriching journey will be a grand performance on Friday, 1st March, 2024 at the Julees Lounge from 6-8pm. The concert will feature captivating performances by students from Leeds City College of Music alongside their counterparts from participating Antiguan schools.

The environmental science group from City College Plymouth will collaborate closely with the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) and National Parks to contribute to conservation efforts and biodiversity research. This will include engaging with invasive species and conservation initiatives aimed at supporting the endangered Antigua Racer Snake. Additionally, they will dedicate their efforts to environmental stewardship through activities such as beach clean-ups and upcycling ocean plastics in partnership with the AdoptACoastline group. The group will also conduct vital research by monitoring bird species and assessing the health of the green iguana population, providing valuable insights to support the ongoing work of national parks and gaining a deeper understanding of their conservation efforts.

It is anticipated that this inaugural cohort of students will pave the way for future programmes, welcoming students from numerous colleges and universities across the UK in the years to come.

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