Written by: Rubin Daniels
I am enrolled in the course; Anthropology of Gullah/Geechee: Africa in the Americas, which is a transformational learning class. “This course provides an ethnographic overview of the history and contemporary dynamics of Gullah/Geechee communities of the Southeastern coastal U.S. Throughout the course, students will be exposed to various sociocultural, economic, and political issues facing these endangered communities.(Syllabus)” The Gullah are African Americas who live along the Sea Islands, their early ancestors were brought to South Carolina and Georgia through the ports of Charleston and Savannah as slaves.
The old Nickelodeon show, Gullah Gullah Island was based on a Gullah family living on an island off the coast of South Carolina. I went on a trip with the class to the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, Wednesday September 28. We were there for five days and camped for three of those days. During our stay we encountered and talked to people of the Gullah community. We spent a lot of time with Queen Quet, the Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee nation. The time with her was truly an amazing and humbling experience; something I will never forget. Talking with her and hearing her personal stories really touched deep down in my soul, you could feel the authority of her words and the force behind what she was saying. Her mother cooked traditional Gullah/Geechee food for the whole class which embedded us the culture even more.
We spent hours at her house, she explained how the land that we were sitting on is the same land her ancestors were enslaved on. She could feel their presence guiding her as she now works and plants on the same soil they did many years ago. She gave us a tour of the Lowcountry, going to a praise house which is still used by Guallah/Geechee to a Guallah/Geechee community center. Only through the relationship my professor, Mrs. Hargrove has with Queen Quet, were we able to be embraced by her and her family. Queen Quet is very intelligent, you can tell by how she was just able to discharge tons of information answering any questions we had for her. She is constantly involved in numerous activities regarding the struggle and fight for her people.
This was my first time camping also, which is funny because I work at Huguenot Memorial Park which has a camp ground. I did not know what to expect when it came to camping, which is really not my thing but I like to try new things and experience something different that not everyone can say they have been through before.
The whole experience was breath taking, I am so glad and grateful that I was able to be a part of this trip. Special thanks have to go out to Queen Quet for everything she did for my class, and professor Hargrove for putting the whole trip together. According to UNF “A transformation learning opportunity whether inside or outside the classroom, has the potential to enrich student learning and personal development,” this trip did that and so much more.