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Readings Under the Trees — The Alta Tree

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Alta founder and CEO Paula Lucie Smith receives the the Anthony N Sabga Award for Caribbean Excellence from the late Anthony N Sabga in 2012. PICTURE FILE

In celebration of our 25th anniversary, Alta hosted an afternoon of Readings Under the Trees at the Royal Botanical Gardens, in late March. Alta tutor Rosemarie Olliverre was the master of ceremony for the Alta Tree—the tree under which most Alta students read stories, poems and reflections of their time at Alta. Rosemarie has written a reflection on the event which Alta will share over the next two weeks.

It was a glorious afternoon in the Royal Botanic Gardens. The sun was brilliant, with a cool, gentle, tropical breeze. We gathered under the shade of some magnificent royal palm trees to celebrate Alta’s 25th anniversary. There was a spirit of love, friendship and camaraderie present. This, combined with the large number of students and tutors who volunteered to participate, made this event a success even before it began and reflected the great work of Alta.

The event kicked off promptly at 2:30 pm, the first item being a welcome poem composed and performed eloquently by Jilean Beharry. There were some words which resonated with us all, “For those who volunteer and come to learn alike…..Alta makes a dim world bright.”

This was followed by resounding applause which warmly welcomed Alta’s founder and CEO Paula Lucie Smith who gave some of her own insights on Alta—what it is and what is not. I think she was divinely inspired to begin this social movement which is a beacon of hope to so many people who were deprived of the opportunity to master the skills of reading and writing. Lucie Smith referred to the myriad of fruitful relationships spawned by participation in Alta.

Bonds between tutors, bonds between students and, most significantly, that between student and tutor. She also spoke of the importance of the volunteers without whom the organisation would cease to exist.

Many students who benefit from Alta classes were very happy for the opportunity to meet Lucie Smith in person and to thank her for her unstinting commitment and dedication.

Alta student Shurwayne Scantlebury was brilliant! Shurwyane belongs to the Alta Reading Circle and the Writers Union. He read his own essay entitled International Men’s Day. It was a very insightful piece and brought to light the plight of males. While the challenges of females seem well highlighted, Shurwayne was very convincing about the difficulties men face. They are always expected to appear strong even when they felt vulnerable. Men need to cry too, and it is not a sign of weakness, he reminded us.

Students from the International School of Port-of-Spain/St Anthony’s College group did a joint reading of Portrait of Trinidad with some witty additional verses. The cohesiveness of the group was evident as students and tutors stood side by side supporting each other. Although it took a lot of courage the group was very excited to render the piece and very proud of their performance.

The presentation, Angels Without Wings by Alta tutor Raphael Sookram, struck us all deeply as the author reminisced on all the ordinary folks in society who do good deeds everyday to improve the lives of others. Alta volunteers were included of course!

n Be sure to catch Part Two of Rosemarie’s piece next week.
Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 621-5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA


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