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Folklife Office seeks tradition apprentice

The Bermuda Folklife office is looking for people to carry on the torch for Bermuda's traditions and way of life.

The office which is a Department of Community and Cultural Affairs this week announced that the Folklife Apprenticeship Programme was open again for applications.

“This programme, for people ages 18 to 30, is a wonderful opportunity for young Bermudians to work one-on-one with a tradition-bearer to learn about an aspect of our heritage,” said Folklife Officer Dr Kim Dismont-Robinson. “It's a fantastic programme that seeks to keep our traditions alive. I guarantee it will be a fabulous experience.”

The main objective is to foster the growth of a younger generation of tradition-bearers in Bermuda. The programme pairs a tradition-bearer with an interested apprentice for an 80-hour apprenticeship from October 2013 to August 2014. Students will be learning about folk medicine, chemical-free farming and cassava growing and processing, punt building and rigging and more. Some of the teachers will include Anson Nash, Neville Richardson and Lewell Woolridge.

“The successful apprentice should exhibit openness and respect for non-traditional learning environments, and a passion for Bermuda's traditions and heritage,” said Dr Dismont-Robinson. “This is the sixth year of the programme, and in the past, tradition-bearers have sometimes chosen to continue working with the apprentices after the formal programme has finished.”

For example, one of the apprentices was hired by beekeeper Randolph Furbert after the programme finished. Artist and previous apprentice, Ami Zanders, worked with traditional boat builder Milton Hill. After the programme the two had several art shows together.

“A few others have used their new skills as a springboard to help develop their own businesses,” said Dr Dismont-Robinson. “Former apprentice, Ashley Tucker, for example, already had a business in culinary nutrition. After working with James Tucker, she had the option to add goat cheese to her repertoire.

“So, essentially, it's a non-traditional learning programme where we choose mentors who are recognised as tradition-bearers in fields that are not widely practiced with the intention of facilitating knowledge transfer between generations. We have a ceremony at the end of the programme where apprentices illustrate what they've learned.”

In addition to the 80 hours, the apprentices are required to gift something to the Folklife Department relating to their project. Past gifts have included a gombey costume, banana and palmetto dolls, onion baskets, a book of recipes, and cedar model boats. Apprentices are also required to give a one-off workshop to a group of school children.

For more information or to submit a letter of application e-mail, call 292-1681; or drop by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs at 58 Court Street, 4th Floor in the City of Hamilton. Applications must be submitted no later than October 4.

Tradition bearer Chesley Trott and one of his wooden carvings. (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published September 11, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm)

Folklife Office seeks tradition apprentice

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