many of our students have to go off the Bay Islands to seek
an education. And once they have an education they can´t
come back because there is nothing here to offer them. There
is no promise of a good business, no good jobs. They stay
away. So, what is happening to our Islands is that we are
being robbed of its brain power. I see the University providing
jobs, giving people an education so that they can create different
openings, different opportunities."
people are not educated," has been the motto for Dr.
Stavely Perry Elwin most of his 41 years. "Take oceanography.
Many businesses can be opened in that area and provide jobs.
Once we can educate our people here, we can establish new
businesses and provide good jobs; then our people will remain
and our island will grow. But, for now, our people leave and
never come back."
To tell the story of the founding of
the Bay Islands University (BIU) one must combine three quantities:
the new Bay Islander, the 7th Day Adventist Church, and Dr.
The New Bay Islander
Today, 180 shrimp and lobster boats
uncertainly ensure a good portion of the economy of the Bay
Islands. Tourism has only recently become the mainstay element
in an economy that always relied upon the fishing industry.
The sea-dependant economy flourished from the 1960s with the
specialization of shrimp and lobster export.
Mrs. Connie Hyde Silvestri, Assistant
Manager in charge of Marketing for the Hybur Shipping Agency
and an active supporter of BIU, feels that dependency on the
industry will not be the same in the future. "It went
wrong in many, many ways. And, it didn´t require a lot
of education to be a fisherman. A lot of common sense was
definitely necessary, and our people are very rich in common
sense, but, that industry has seen better days. Now, we are
moving into many other areas of investment, like real estate
By the late 1960s there was already
a complex mix of people who called themselves Bay Islanders.
This included the Cayman descendant, the Garifuna, the Hispanic,
the Miskito, and the coastal Honduran and Guatemalan indigenous
people. With the international tourist developer recognizing
the potential of these ruggedly beautiful islands as a destination,
there has been a slow but steady migration of North Americans,
Canadians, Italians, Jamaicans, Mexicans, Panamanians, Costa
Ricans, Swiss, Salvadorans, and the occasional Cayman. You
can also throw into that mixture a great number of cruising
sailors voicing the "new discovery" of the Western
Caribbean as an excitingplace to explore.
An infrastructure is slowly developing
to accompany the resorts and tourism development, and that
infrastructure has moved into the area of education.
Who are the Seventh Day Adventists?
An overview would see a Christian group awaiting the return
of Christ and all the true believers rising from the dead
to enjoy heaven on earth.
The Seventh Day movement took root in
the Bay Islands with the return of a converted Islander who
had been living in California, Mrs. Elizabeth (Elwin) Gauterau.
Mr. Frank Hutchins joined Mrs. Gauterau to establish a mission
here in 1891. Hutchins built a 50-foot schooner, The Herald,
to carry the word around the islands and coasts of the Bay
The Adventists have a long association
with education that dates back to their beginnings.
This earned them persecution from most
communities closed to the common person being offered a chance
to learn. The Bay Islands´ Adventists have more schools
than any other group, including the Government, and almost
half of the overall (not all Adventists) student count in
these islands. What is astonishing about the Bay Islands University
is the fact that the Seventh Day Adventists, who are the principle
motivators and, up to this point, the funders, are opening
the doors at BIU to all religious backgrounds, to the whole
Dr. Perry Elwin
Perry Elwin is the great great grandnephew
of Mrs. Gauterau, whose father came over from England in the
mid-nineteenth Century. Mr. Unwin Elwin of Middlesex, London
was a popular man amongst the mainly Cayman immigrants of
the day as well as being thought, "
the most influential
and reputable person in the Bay Islands
" He became
the first president of the first Legislative Assembly is 1853
and was elected Justice of the Peace and Magistrate. It was
Unwin Elwin who led the protest against the ceding of the
Bay Islands to the 38-year-old Republic of Honduras and called
for the formation of a provisional government.
When Perry was a child, the law decreed
that English was not to be taught in the Bay Islands. The
Spanish language school was the official school. The English
language students would go, after official school hours, to
learn the basics of their primary language at in official
English language schools. Schools like this were taught to
grandfather and father by Mrs. Vera McLaughlin, and were usually
set in the living rooms of private homes. They were taught
the six books of the British Royal Reader series which still
only went up to about the 3rd Grade.
started a career in legal school creation from the example
of Mr. Kern Hyde who was the prime mover in the first Adventist
school building. He went to Guanaja in 1986 to work on the
SDA Primary School in Savannah Bight. In 1987 they received
official accreditation for the SDA high school in French Harbor,
which he worked on with his aunt Valjean Elwin Dixon, who
was President of the SDA School Board. In 1988 he went to
Utila and assisted the SDA Colegio (7th through 9th Grades).
Back in French Harbor, approval was granted for the Baccalaureate
(10th, 11th and 12th Grades) Program. Now, he is the main
energizer behind the Bay Islands University, which opened
its doors on May 5, 2003.
Historically, antagonism existed between
the English and the Spanish speaking mainland governments
since the ceding of the British Crown Colony of the Bay Islands
to Honduras in 1859-61. In an effort to bring the Islanders
into the Spanish Honduran fatherland, restrictive educational
laws prohibited the teaching of English in schools. Then came
the establishment of the first (Spanish language) Government
Public Primary School in French Harbor in 1952. It was compulsory
schooling that stopped suddenly at the 3rd Grade. For further
education, an Islander to go to the mainland or another country
as Perry did. The Islanders saw the Honduran educational system
restrictions as a weapon to destroy their culture. Thirty-five
years later the first French Harbor High School sclass graduated.
That was in 1988, just 15 years ago.
The Bay Islands University opened its
doors on May 5, 2003 with six classes: Spanish, English, Sociology,
Mathematics, Computer Sciences, and Bible Studies. Hampered
by a lack of any kind of newspaper to get the word out on
this new educational facility (taking over the SDA French
Harbor Bilingual School in the evenings from 4:45-10:00pm,
Monday through Thursday), enrollment was planned at 25-30
students. Reality was fanned by word of mouth and enrollment
had to be curtailed at 100 students! The variety in, age,
sex, race and nationality in both students and faculty is
the strikingly gracious character of both the University and
Asked why he was attending BIU, primary
school teacher, Corn Islands born Norton Parilla Britton at
61, answered, "Several times I had started studying at
a university but I had to make the decision to help at home.
Finally, I have an opportunity with it right at my school
door and at the same time, I wanted to have a little more
preparation to do a better job to prepare the children for
Full time secretary, Ms. Sherrie Elisa
Bodden, 21, commutes every school night back to Jonesville.
"This is one of the best opportunities that we have ever
had. The business people donated a lot and that is a sign
that they are interested in our island people growing and
Lily Elwin, Perry´s wife and full
time mother of four, attends the evening courses. "The
University was formed on the Island to educate our people.
Because of finances, they don't all have the privilege of
going off-Island for education. There are a few who can afford
to go, but just a few. Having a University here at home even
gives the poorer class the opportunity to study. It is here
to help. And, for everybody, it is right here at home
you don´t have all that expense of going or sending
The Alcalde (Mayor) of the Western half
of Roatan Island, Mr. Jerry Hynds, 44, runs fishing and freight
transportation businesses and is also an active supporter
of the new University, "It´s the right thing to
do, helping to make us all successful in what we want to do,
which will give us a better life. I think there were a lot
of people who were not prepared for it, but once we get this
University going, there are a lot of people here who will
keep it going. I see it quickly becoming too small and we'll
have to keep adding parts to it as the budget allows. It is
a serious project."
Valjean and Irwin Dixon donated 20+
dramatic view acres of pastureland for the new Bay Islands
University site. Veteran Canadian architect, Roger Walls,
is working on the plans to incorporate the natural amphitheater
setting. Money has come in from people who do not want the
public recognition. Volunteers are teaching some of the night
The English Department was created by
Dr. Erika Paterson, who will also create the Humanities Faculty.
She has volunteered to teach Advanced ESL and English 101.
She enjoys the challenge, "One of the nice things, when
you are teaching, is to have a class where you are looking
at the high school students who have just graduated sitting
next to women who have been raising kids for 20 years, sitting
next to a primary school teacher who has many years of teaching,
and they are all students. And what they can give each other
because of their diversity will allow them to learn twice
Mr. Norton sums the student concept
up with a little anecdote, "At the beginning very few
people believed it was happening, and they said, '
it will stop
'but when it opened, a few of them came.
They have come along and checked out the teachers, they've
looked in the classes to see what the teacher is thinking
and they decided that, '
you know, these people are not
as prepared as I am to be in the University and so we'd better
come out and get in it too.' Now, they are feeling really
happy and proud."
by H.E. Ross
photos by Thomas Tomczyk
SCHOOL OR NOT TO
education all that important? Perhaps not as important as
intellect and wisdom. I know several very intelligent, amazing
people who only finished six or eight grades of schooling.
On the other hand, there are plenty of incompetent people
with university degrees.
So what is the secret to intelligence?
Perhaps it is finding the right circumstances to develop to
one's highest potential. These circumstances could vary: a
tightly organized group as the army could be, although rarely
is. There are systems that still fall outside of the organized
educational system. Martial arts students follow their masters
to achieve wisdom and knowledge. Violin makers spend years
performing simple tasks at their instrument shop before they
gain intimate, almost mystical knowledge of their art or craft.
This takes place almost by osmosis.
Is there a connection between education
and intellect? Some people are self educated and achieve intellect
through extensive reading and critical thinking. Travel is
another way to broaden one's horizons and grow. Travel forces
us to confront the unknown reality and to constantly adjust
our concept of ourselves and the world around us. It is hard
to find a person that has traveled and has nothing interesting
Education and especially education at
the university level, provides a certain standard of development.
There is a different relationship between the student and
professor: a more equal relationship. We feel a common bond
with all the millions of university students before us. Reading
texts and formulas studied by so many before us brings humility
and a sense of continuum to our society.
More so than in other educational environments,
university provides a place to develop the mind, gain skills
and confidence for the life ahead.
The university environment is one place
where many people develop a passion for something they had
only an interest in. The whole idea of higher education is
that a person chooses this path of his or her life, and works
on improving the society as a whole. University provides a
place where we find opportunity to deeply analyze the circumstances
that surround us.
The great achievement a person can strive
for in life is to learn one's limitations and be able to constantly
push them forward. One of the most intelligent, wise and well-read
persons I know is Greek friend of mine. He finished six grades
of school and went on a path of being a fisherman, a pretzel
seller and a restaurant owner. When we meet, we talk about
Greek Mythology, religion, life and history. I seek his advice
whenever I am faced with a dilemma greater than my own intellect.
He has the greatest ability to judge his competency; he knows
the things he can do and understands his limitations.
It is not the destination that makes
us who we are, but the path that we take. A society without
ways of educating its members is endangering its future. Perhaps
like no one other single thing in the history of the Bay Islands,
a first university is a sign of Bay Islanders taking charge
of their own destiny. It is as if we are saying "we will
not continue to be dependent on foreign minds to organize
our future. We will determine where we will go and how we
will get there."
Island meets Bargain Island
production costs tempt FOX into coming back to "Temptation
months of preparations and 16 days of filming, Temptation Island
is off the Island. Or, did anyone notice or care? The picture
is so vague due to many secrecy precautions (and perhaps a course
at the Saddam Hussein school of subterfuge and secrecy) the
FOX productions team undertook.
But did we really care who tempted whom?
After umpteen phone calls and personal visits to the production
headquarters at Lawson Rock, Sandy Bay, we were continually
told that the FOX crew is not at liberty to discuss any facet
of the production. The 'sworn to secrecy' FOX team would sooner
tell us how many plates of food were served at any given shot
than would an Iraqi scientist tell you where he had buried a
vial of anthrax.
After much persistence a very friendly
'paisana' of mine produced an e-mail address to Michael Shevloff,
executive producer at Fox productions in Los Angeles. Shevloff
could not say enough about his experiences filming on Roatan.
"We know a lot of Islanders from
our previous international productions there and find the Islanders
to be mostly very kind and helpful. The accommodations and food
at Palmetto Bay and Luna Beach are exceptional and the crew
but mostly comfortable. The food across
the island has definitely improved since we first came to
Roatan two years ago. There are more and better restaurants
and the produce seems better too."
Island is a reality show that puts young beautiful people
in tropical surroundings as couples, with some singles thrown
in to do the tempting. With sun, rum and flesh thrown into
the pot, only the very strong willed can resist.
Where Survivor is about outwitting,
outrunning, out swimming, Temptation Island is about out-tempting.
Mike Shevloff was very quick to point out that the participants
are not actors "Only participants please, not actors,
and a host "Sorry Mike." According to Shevloff,
the show will air first in the USA, then in Canada.
Other good things to come out of the
filming were the participation of Islanders in providing services.
"We employed over 40 people for over a month to provide
services like catering, electricians etc., but for the actual
filming period a lot more were hired. We rented about 30 vehicles
including passenger vans and cars," wrote Shevloff. These
concentrated boosts to our economy are short lived and few
and far between, however. Roatan waited two years for the
Fox show to come back and there are no plans in the foreseeable
future of returning.
at the AIRPORT
in safety and security at Roatan International
May 10, Roatan Airport officially became a class category
seven airport. Now airplanes as big as Boeing 767 and
Airbus 330 can land on the island without weight restrictions
and dependence on city fire assistance.
A new Kia ambulance was added
to the 1984 Chevrolet van ambulance previously used
by the airport. The ambulance will provide a free emergency
transport service to and from the airport. Also, a reconditioned
1984 Renault fire truck joined the lineup of two older
The developments are a part of
InterAirports S.A. making efforts to raise standards
at its airports. The Honduran company has been managing
the Roatan airport since October 2000. The company has
all four Honduras international airports under its management:
Roatan, La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.
Since its opening in 1991, Roatan
Airport has seen no major airplane emergencies. The
airport's firefighters remain on 24-hour readiness and
conduct emergency fire drill simulations twice a month.
The airport will be adding two firemen to its firefighting
NEW WAY for a Clinic
Sharri Webster, from Coxen Hole, helps Patient Christobyll
Lawrence with a tooth infection.
babies - all girls - greeted the world in the new Dr.
Polo Galindo Clinic in Punta Gorda. The first birth
was shortly after the clinic opened and the last infant
was born just two weeks ago on the front porch. But
bringing babies into the world is just one of many services
offered by the dedicated staff at the nonprofit facility.
Although it only opened eight
months ago, the clinic is already gaining a reputation
as the place to go for illness, emergencies, lab tests,
minor surgery and dental procedures. The facility was
named in honor of the man who was once Roatan's only
physician. And just like Dr. Galindo, the center is
filling an acute need for quality medical care. It has
already gained national recognition and may serve as
a model from which a decentralized health care system
can be designed and utilized for the entire country
Dr. Ron Worley, an oral surgeon
from Moses Lake, Washington, and part-time Roatan resident,
is the main driving force behind the clinic. Worley
said he first came to the Bay Islands with the International
Living group and purchased property on French Key. During
that trip he also visited Utila, where the owners of
the Utila Lodge "bent his ear" about the challenges
of finding quality medical care on the islands.
In response to this need, Worley
created From the Heart, a foundation that addresses
the lack of medical access throughout Central America.
The Foundation is run by a Board of Directors, of which
Worley is President. After
hearing Dr. Worley's vision for a clinic, the town of
Punta Gorda donated a one acre parcel of land. Just
three months later, construction of the 5,800 square
foot facility began on the main road near the impoverished
Medical Director Dr. Amanda
Everett, who was born and raised in Coxen Hole, is a
direct descendent of
Dr. Polo Galindo. After attending medical
school in Tegucigalpa and working a short while,
to Roatan to serve her people on the island that she
loves so much.
in school, Dr. Amanda met Dr. Zeni Duarte, from Tegucigalpa,
who is the clinic's resident physician. Dr. Shari Webster,
the resident dentist is also from Coxen Hole.
The sparkling clean building includes
four medical exam rooms, two dental treatment rooms,
an observation room, x-ray lab, dental lab, a minor
surgery room, and an analysis lab. Both doctors say
the pharmacy, with air-conditioning to preserve medications,
is their favorite room. Three apartments under the clinic
provide living space for the resident and visiting physicians.
According to Dr. Amanda, the clinic
sees an average of 10 to 15 patients a day. The visits
range from skin infections to accidental injuries. Since
opening they have detected several cases of cervical
cancer, hypertension, hyperglycemia, diabetes, HIV and
malaria. Doctors have the capabilities to do urine analysis,
general blood testing (glucose, pregnancy, CBC, etc.),
TB testing, pap smears and prenatal care. Patients seeking
treatment at the clinic pay for services according to
a sliding scale. Patients who cannot afford to pay are
asked to donate their time and energy working at the
The clinic's hours are 8 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon
on Saturday. Patients visiting the clinic for emergencies
outside these hours should phone 435-2755 to be sure
someone is there.
Dr. Ron Worley, president of the
From the Heart Foundation, and the Bay Islands book
being sold to benefit the clinic.
only fundraiser for the Polo Galindo Clinic is the
sale of a 261-page coffee table style book, The
Bay Islands of Honduras. The book, which showcases
the magical underwater world as well as the life
and culture of Bay Island inhabitants, is filled
with hundreds of beautiful photographs and fascinating
descriptions of this unique corner of the world.
It was printed in two versions, English-Spanish
The book is the handiwork of From the Heart board
member Jacqueline Laffite Bloch, a Honduran journalist
and wife of a prominent businessman. She has been
living in El Salvador for the last 21 years and
maintains a home in Port Royal. Ms. Block is a strong
advocate for children and established a nonprofit
organization that created the first children's museum
in San Salvador.
The books are available on Roatan at Eldon's Supermarket,
Anthony's Key Resort, the Mayan Princess, Century
21, Re/Max, John Edwards Realty, The Bulk Gourmet
and several gift shops. They are also sold on the
Foundation's website, www.fthfoundation.org. The
clinic receives proceeds from the sale.