On Tuesday, January 21st, La Cabana’s management, department heads and supervisors met for their regular meeting, which was held in Papiamento, in honor of International Mother Language Day. General Manager Joe Najjar opened and conducted the entire meeting in Papiamento, including the presentation of the daily report, thus giving the island’s official language the recognition and attention it deserves. The celebration of International Mother Language Day continued with a special lunch served in the resort’s Conference Room, where the associates were treated to a visit from Zahira Zaandam, from the Government’s Department of Culture, and teacher and poet Olga Buckley.
La Cabana asked Zaandam to bring the Briefcase of Treasures and reveal its contents, as part of a project dedicated to school kids and launched in celebration of Aruba’s 25 years of Status Aparte. Each school received a Briefcase of Treasures to share with students, teaching them about the history of Aruba’s Status Aparte, its constitution, language, culture, currency and much more. With delicate care, Zaandam went over the contents of the briefcase, revealing each new treasure, until she came to the last and most important item – a mirror – for kids to look at their own reflection and realize that they are the most valuable contribution to the future of the island. Zaandam inspired every one to express themselves as best as possible in their own language of Papiamento. She then recited a beautiful poem by Marilys Becker called Mi Amor, My Love, which was one of the treasures in the briefcase.
Buckley also recited two poems dedicated to Aruba and its mother language, Papiamento. She explained to the associates that the use of Papiamento at schools is of great help to the students and at home benefits children, grandchildren and family members.
As a reflection on the current state of the language, a question was presented by local cultural icon Hubert Booi’s Essay on Papiamento 1968, and had the associates asking themselves, How can we achieve better recognition of Papiamento?
Their answer was: By accepting and recognizing that this island’s language is just as valuable as any other languages. To conclude the program, the associates enjoyed a funny poem, titled Papiamento, which was presented by Booi. This was followed by an emotional presentation called A Gift From Your Adopted Child, by colleague Enrique Aaron.
Incidentally, Enrique Aaron’s poem — he is the Maintenance Fee Manager at the resort, was presented by singer Gloria Vega with background music by Jonathan Vieira, at Cas di Cultura, on February 25th, at an event given by the Department of Culture in honor of Dia Internacional di Lenga Materno. Aaron dedicated the poem to Aruba, a number of years ago, naming it: Regalo di bo yiu adopta, a gift from you adopted son. Enrique is originally from Colombia and has made Aruba his second home.
The Green, Health & Security Committee organized the special day dedicated to Papiamento, and would like to thank Zahira Zaandam and Olga Buckley for their valuable contributions to the program, as well as Hubert Booi, Irais Sinkatsing of the National Library, Alice van Romondt of CHARUBA and the Department of Culture for their excellent cooperation.