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"So 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."
"Our 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. Perry Elwin.

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 and tourism."
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.

The Adventists
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 of Honduras.
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 community.

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

Perry´s 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.
Perry 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.

The Combination
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.

Bay Islands University
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 the Islands.
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 the future."
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 becoming someone."
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 them away."
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 classes.
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 as much."
Mr. Norton sums the student concept up with a little anecdote, "At the beginning very few people believed it was happening, and they said, '…ahh, 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."

Written by H.E. Ross
photos by Thomas Tomczyk


Is 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 to say.
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."

By Thomas Tomczyk

local news

Temptation Island meets Bargain Island
Bargain production costs tempt FOX into coming back to "Temptation Island "
by Matthew Harper
After 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

accommodations are varied 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."
Temptation 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.

Local news
Improvements in safety and security at Roatan International

On 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 firefighting vehicles.
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 staff.

business news

a NEW WAY for a Clinic
by Marcia Quinn-Strehlow

Dr. Sharri Webster, from Coxen Hole, helps Patient Christobyll Lawrence with a tooth infection.

Five 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 of Honduras.
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 community's entrance.
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, Dr. Amanda

returned to Roatan to serve her people on the island that she loves so much.
While 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 facility.
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.

The 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 and English-Italian.
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, The clinic receives proceeds from the sale.

Read other issues of
the Bay Islands Voice

No. 1
March 27 2003
No. 2
April 10 20
No. 3
April 24

No. 4
May 8

No. 5
May 22
No. 6
June 5

No. 7
June 19

No. 8
July 3


No. 9
July 17