What I Would Do to Change the Island
The Winner of the 2013 Voice Bay Islands Heritage Month Essay Contest

August 30th, 2013
by Cherish Parker

photo-9-my voice-cc-webAs a child, we all dream big and have great ideas if we were given the chance to change where we live. I’m sure if you still ask many kids my age, they would say a school, or help the poor, or put down a hospital. I don’t think we need more buildings, what we need is for people to get motivated.

There is a lot of talent here on the island, and my way of changing the island would be to emphasize on that, to help enrich our culture. This emphasis on the arts can improve many island lives; young people can be hired for commercial works or campaigns. There is a huge market out there for new, fresh talent and everyone is looking for the next big thing. Some of this talent can even be used for a movement right here on the island to bring in more business. For example, a group of artists can get together and open a gallery. Make it a huge event backed up with music from here and it will attract tourists and possible buyers.

I see my generation and the ones coming after to be very promising. We have way more opportunities and options than our parents did. What I think some lack is ambition to pursue their own dreams. And those who do may find it difficult. We have the schools and people from off come here and they try to help, but ultimately it is us who need to step up and continue. They can leave, but we are the ones who are going to stay and our children are going to be raised here.

My dream is to see a huge emphasis on the arts. I’ve seen and heard many people here who are extremely talented, but cannot go far with it. We need more support as an artist. Sad to say, there are not many Honduran artists you can name off. Where is our representation for our culture? We shouldn’t be remembered for the bad name this place has gotten recently. I see great potential everywhere I go on the island, and why is that not being shown off to the world?

Of course, for us to exceed forward we need a base. I would use an existing building, a school per se, for anyone who is willing to sit down and express their self, or a church willing to open up a workshop for kids. We do not need teachers really. I’ve found joy in sitting down with another person who shares similar interests and playing guitar and singing. If you surround yourself with people who talk your talk, you can open up more. This goes for everything. Get a room full of kids who are full of energy and just wanna jam out and you will see great results. Now I would do the same for those who are into drawing, paintings, etc.  Give them a room with canvases and paints and they will create wonderful work. I don’t believe anyone should be forced into a talent, let them develop it.

Now you have those who are willing to go forward with their talent, but there is one thing stopping them: the mockers. The kids who mock others about their singing or art, all they can remark is, “It looks weird” or “You don’t sound good.” This is where all hope is lost and kids lose their will. I say to those mockers, until you’re up on stage and mess up but still have the courage to continue, sit down and shut up. We need support. There are a handful of young people who are out there today sitting in makeshift studios recording over beats found on Youtube and getting themselves out there, kudos to you. I wish I could record and then go and perform my own music. We need more ambition like that. That would be a great way of helping this island, through our culture.

This cannot be done without the support of the parents either. Do not discourage your kid. I’ve seen friends stop drawing or singing because their parents didn’t agree with it. It is not foolish or useless. My parents are always willing to go along with whatever interest I develop. And for that I’m not afraid to draw or sing in front of crowds.

I think churches are a great way for kids to showcase their talent also. Now schools are holding competitions for music and art. We need that island wide. Next step should be schools competing against schools. That’s where I want to see our small talent shows going. There are many big names out here who are probably seeking new talent, and I want to see kids from Roatan on international news. You never know who is there in the audience watching. Many famous people have gotten discovered in strange places: barber shops, bakeries, malls, and even in churches.

About a year ago, my brother and I participated in a musical competition between the Methodist churches from Coxen Hole, French Harbour, and Flowers Bay. I was honestly amazed by some who got up there and performed. There was a girl who played the saxophone, a boy who played the violin and a little kid probably eight or so who played the piano.  Then there was the singing, which was my favorite part. Of course there were some who mocked us who got up and performed, but I can’t let them get in my way. That is what we need, an ambient set up for us to perform.

As I said before, I’m not going to write about building a school or a hospital or planting trees. I think this island needs a push. It is so simple and something that can take place tomorrow. For anyone who is reading this, I encourage you. Schools, open up stages. Churches open up your mikes. And from one kid to another, pick up a guitar or sit at a piano. Sing in the shower more if that is the only place you feel comfortable and draw on anything in your reach. This is how it starts.

I want to be able to name off hundreds of artists from my island in 10 years. It’s not so hard. And don’t think you need a teacher, we have the internet at our disposal and look up chords or notes or techniques. And parents, if you see a tiny spark in your child, do not push it aside. I don’t think we need volunteers to come in and help us enrich our own culture. We island people need to start helping ourselves, and I think we can start by doing this. One big improvement that can come out of this is more pride in our culture because there will be a positive thing buzzing through it. I think that would be the best thing; pride to say you’re from Roatan.

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