PRESS RELEASE (July 16th, 2018) – The Dominican medical students of the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba made it their mission in the academic year 2017-2018 to do a mural on one of the walls of the school to represent Dominica and it’s nature and beauty.
This action is very common in the school as many other countries represented in the school have done murals on the school’s walls.
There is a general wall representing the Caribbean Region but a few Caribbean countries have made their own murals separately, representing their culture and uniqueness; such countries include Jamaica, Grenada, St.Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and now Dominica.
The funding of this project was done by the current ambassador of Dominica to Cuba, Mathew Walter and two fundraisers carried out by the students.
Parents of a few students also contributed; Elvina Renè, mother of Henville Alexander who served as the president of the delegation of Dominican students during the academic year, Dr. Griffin Benjamin, father of Kaele Benjamin who served as vice president and Harold and Pamela Guiste, parents of Lanelle-Maris Guiste who served as events coordinator.
All of the students put the ideas together for the mural and a few worked together to form its concept. The sketch was drawn by two Dominican students, Phylicia LaRonde and Nadezka Sanford. The painting itself was done by a Cuban artist, Miguel Alexei Rodriguez Mendiola.
The mural displays Dominica’s pure nature and uniqueness. The outline is the Dominican flag having 3/4 of the black, yellow and white cross. In each square, a different aspect of Dominica’s nature is shown. The right side of the flag shows the on-land and underwater view of the island, from its mountains to the shoreline and deep into the ocean. On the other hand, the left side shows the country’s dense forestry, including particular flora and fauna.
In the middle, the head and face of the woman represent the strong Kalinago culture still existing in Dominica and her body forms part of the mountain ranges in the top right square, depicting the mountainous terrain of the island bringing ‘Tall is her body’ to reality. In her arms she holds fruits, showing the country’s fertility and from her right shoulder a river flows into her arms forming a pool which sips through her fingers and cascading down as Trafalgar falls, forming the white part of the cross. This shows the abundance of water found in Dominica.
The right bottom square depicts marine life, with the sperm whale, leatherback turtle and stingray which all inhabit Dominican waters. The bubbles depict the famous Champagne Reef and the coral reef represents the colorful underwater beauty. The diver illustrates that Dominica is a popular dive destination.
In the top left square, the Sisserou parrot is prominent as the national bird on a cocoa tree. The cocoa tree and fruit show the origin of cocoa tea, made famous to the Dominican Delegation as the students provide it every year at an annual Caribbean event called the ‘Caribbean Social’ held early in the new academic year. This social is designed to reunite the students from all Caribbean countries represented in the school and to welcome the new students entering their pre-medical year.
Also, to display different famous foods/beverages from each country which the students from the other countries get to taste. Every year Dominica has been consistent with cocoa tea as its beverage, since many Dominican students ensure to carry cocoa sticks from home.
The bottom left square shows the national flower, the bwa kwaib and the very commonly seen hibiscus, along with other flora found in Dominica. Also the mountain chicken is portrayed.
In addition, there is a scroll containing the names of the 23 Dominican students attending the medical school in the academic year 2017-2018 and of Mathew Walter who made the mural possible.
The writings in this mural indicate that this mural is of Dominica thus including the country’s name. As it was done in a Spanish speaking country and school, some of the writing was done in Spanish. ‘Isla de la Naturaleza del Caribe’ meaning ‘Nature Isle of the Caribbean’. Also including ‘Waitukubuli’ which is Kalinago language meaning ‘tall is her body’. To the right of these, Dominica’s coat of arms is displayed.
The writing on the bottom ‘Isla de Belleza, Isla de Esplendor’ means ‘Isle of beauty, Isle of splendor’ which is the first line of the national anthem.
The Dominican students are very satisfied with the final product and it is being said around the school that this mural is one of the best.