St. Maarten

“July 1” discussion on Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin at Jubilee Library

Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell, a new book from HNP.
Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell, a new book from HNP.

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT, St. Martin — The facts and findings of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell is at the center of the Emancipation Day discussion on Tuesday, July 1, at 7:30 PM, at Philipsburg Jubilee Library, according to House of Nehesi (HNP), the book’s publisher.

The new study looks at how St. Martiners see their own identity; and how and why the island’s speech has been changing before and after the 1848 Emancipation, said HNP president Jacqueline Sample.

“Dr. Arrindell also uses interviews and surveys to present what immigrant groups think about the St. Martin way of speaking, and about other aspects of the culture on both parts of the island. All of this makes for a first-of-its-kind book for us,” said Sample.

“Arrindell’s research is a unique groundbreaking work,” said Prof. Alma Simounet, a linguist at the University of Puerto Rico.

“The Emancipation Day discussion will tackle issues in the book, from the curious to the controversial. Questions and comments from people in the audience will also be invited,” said Arrindell, who will read short selections to stimulate the exchange.

In Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin, Arrindell presents different points of view, analyzes, and explains. She manages to open the way to a wider public and scholarly discussion about the nation’s language, culture, and identity; and about education policies and practices in the South and North of the island, said the publisher.

Released in early June 2014, Arrindell’s book cites earlier research by Daniella Jeffry, Mario Brown, and Linda Richardson on whether St. Martin has its own language or a creole dialect. “But Dr. Arrindell goes the furthest so far to introduce St. Martin in a scientific way to the complex language, ethnic, and culture realities of the Caribbean region,” said Sample.

The writings of leading international language experts are drawn into the book as well. According to the distinguished US professor Dr. Garrett Hongo, the overall work by Arrindell is an “achievement” in the “linguistic realm” as it relates to actual evidence of “resistance, naming, and claiming” in the island’s culture. Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin is based on Arrindell’s original Ph.D. research.

At the Tuesday program, copies of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin will be available for every one and for the author to sign. The new title can be found at Van Dorp bookstore,, and, said Sample.

The Emancipation Day discussion is organized by the St. Martin Book Fair Committee and sponsored by SOS Radio, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

Photo caption1: Rhoda Arrindell (3rd R., seated), author of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin, surrounded by young book party guests. (A.A. photo)

Photo caption2: Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell.

Full House, Standing Ovation at Launch of Dr. Rhoda Arrindell’s Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin

Author Rhoda Arrindell at St. Martin Book Fair’s closing ceremony, talking about her research findings in the new book, Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin. (Courtesy Garret Hongo)
Author Rhoda Arrindell at St. Martin Book Fair’s closing ceremony, talking about her research findings in the new book, Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin. (Courtesy Garret Hongo)

GREAT BAY, St. Martin —With His Excellency drs. Eugene Holiday, Governor of St. Maarten and his wife in attendance, the closing ceremony of the 12th Annual St. Martin Book Fair will long be remembered for the standing room only audience which rose to its feet to give Dr. Rhoda Arrindell a warm ovation following her reading excerpts from her book, Language, Culture and Identity in St. Martin, published by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

The book was launched Saturday evening at the Chamber of Commerce building in Concordia, Marigot, to round off this year’s edition of the Book Fair. The eager audience of over 200 people quickly snapped up the available copies of the book.

It would be the second standing ovation of the day, following a similar one accorded exiled West Papua freedom fighter and independence movement leader, Chief Benny Wenda at the President’s Forum held earlier in the day at the University of St. Martin.

Two young St. Martiners opened the book launch evening by reading the poems they had composed at a writing workshop conducted earlier by visiting author, Nicole Cage. This was followed by “grassroots poet” Raymond Helligar giving a recital that had the audience in stitches for his colorful use of the St. Martin vernacular. This set the stage for the presentation of Dr. Arrindell’s seminal work based on her doctoral thesis that earned her a summa cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico.

At the end of her presentation, Pulitzer Prize finalist, US Professor Garrett Hongo gave a concise, thought-provoking review of Dr. Arrindell’s book, praising her research and analysis of the language situation of St. Martin.

Preview copies of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin are already at Van Dorp,, and, said Jacqueline Sample of HNP.

While giving the “thank you” address, Coordinator of the Book Fair, Conscious Lyrics Foundation president, Shujah Reiph, recalled his earlier visit to the Point Blanche house of detention where a visiting author had gone to speak to the inmates. Reiph implored the audience to do everything possible to prevent their children from ending up behind bars.

“Prison is no place for our young men,” he stressed, as he called for the public to work with the Book Fair Committee to ensure that this situation is reversed.

Highlights of the Book Fair also included a sunset cruise, complete with jazz music by Fred York and his group, on the Simpson Bay Lagoon, which most of the visiting writers, who read from their works during the cruise, found innovative, unique, inspiring, and creative.

The St. Martin Book Fair is organized by the Conscious Lyrics Foundation and the House of Nehesi Publishers in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. The SXM Airport, SOS Radio, and SDL Heavy Equipment are major sponsors of the St. Martin Book Fair 2014.


St. Martin Book Fair Opens Today

Gillian Royes, happy to be on the island of her mother’s birth, is the Kingston-born creator of the “cozy” Shad detective mysteries, The Goat Woman from Largo Bay and The Sea Grape Tree (2014).
Gillian Royes, happy to be on the island of her mother’s birth, is the Kingston-born creator of the “cozy” Shad detective mysteries, The Goat Woman from Largo Bay and The Sea Grape Tree (2014).

SIMPSON BAY, St. Martin —“The general public, book lovers, culture chic people, families, friends, and visitors to our island” are invited to the Opening Ceremony of the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair, Thursday, June 5, at 8 PM, Gate 1, Princess Juliana Int’l Airport (SXM), said Shujah Reiph, book fair coordinator.

Entrance to the opening program is free for everyone, said Reiph. “The friendly and professional clerks at the customer service desk, as you enter the airport building, are ready to escort everyone to Gate 1.”

The theme of the festival is “Crime&Punishment” and keynote speaker Francis Buk, from South Sudan, might be the perfect one to hold everyone’s rapt attention on Thursday evening. “His story of being a slave for 10 years and how that compared to his life of freedom before and after the brutal experience, will move many of us deeply,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

“Other stories and workshops by about 28 authors and workshop leaders from around the world will also hold audiences captive for three book fair days,” said Sample.

“For example, the mother of detective story author Gillian Royes was born in St. Martin. Gillian is a Jamaican writer, who is not only happy to be at the book fair but is bringing family to see the Friendly Island for the first time,” said Sample.

Rapper, author, assistant professor Steve Gadet from Guadeloupe has a certain underground rock star appeal, and it was “the ACED people in Marigot that practically demanded that we invite him to speak to the program’s at-risk-youth,” said Reiph.

Gadet’s general session with teenagers will be in Concordia before the opening ceremony but his new book, and books by other visiting and St. Martin authors, will be available at the opening ceremony for the audience. There will be free parking at the parking lot of SXM Airport for book fair-goers on Thursday, said Reiph.

Grand Case attorney Patrica Chance-Duzant, who made her publishing debut at last year’s festival, is back with a copyrighting workshop on Saturday at USM, said Sample. But after receiving the book fair program booklet at the opening ceremony, no one will have to wait until Saturday to enjoy book fair activities, said Reiph.

According to the Book Fair Committee (BFC), most of the authors will visit schools throughout the island, and the prison in Point Blanche, on Thursday and Friday. BFC manages the school visits and the transportation for the guest authors.

The opening ceremony, sponsored by SXM Airport, is additionally packed with welcome words by book fair partners and patron, performances, book signings by famous and upcoming writers, refreshments, and the launch of the short story collection Love Songs Make You Cry – Second Edition by Lasana M. Sekou (St. Martin) and Marie-Galante Regards by Max Rippon (Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe), said Reiph.

Conscious Lyrics Foundation and HNP are the organizers of the 12th edition of the St. Martin Book Fair, in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. The SXM Airport and SOS Radio are sponsors of the St. Martin Book Fair 2014. For more Book Fair activities, see

Shujah Reiph

Sophia Rismay, First SXM Female Radar Controller, and Her Burning Desire to Excel

By Fabian A. Badejo for SXM Airport

Sophia Peterson Rismay (SXM photo)
Sophia Peterson Rismay (SXM photo)

“Welcome to the gentleman’s club,” blurted out a male colleague when Sophia Peterson Rismay was called to receive a token of appreciation at the end of year party of the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). She stepped up to the podium gingerly, unfazed, and perhaps oblivious of the remark of her colleague, which was obviously meant to be a light-hearted initiation into what indeed had until now been an exclusive male domain in St. Maarten.
Following in the footsteps of Ms. Jean Christian, the first female Air Traffic Controller in St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius (and the second by a very narrow miss in the now defunct Netherlands Antilles), the feat achieved by Rismay can only be truly appreciated when one considers the responsibilities of a radar controller.
“You have more responsibility as a Radar Controller. As a Tower Controller, you have a beautiful view and you’re more active. But with Radar Control, it’s like a TV game. You actually see all that the aircraft is doing on the screen. You have a visual contact with the aircraft 100 miles out. It is my responsibility then to tell the pilot what to do.”
As she speaks, one gets the impression not only of a professional who is dedicated to her work, but also of someone who is excited and enjoys what she is doing.
Rismay was one of four employees hired by the airport as a Flight Information Officer just after it reopened following the devastation caused by Hurricane Luis in 1995, which paralyzed the facility for months.
“I had actually wanted to go into business or become a lawyer,” she confessed. “But this is completely different: I love my job!”
A go-getter, Rismay, a Milton Peters College alumnus, did her Air Traffic Service (ATS) training in Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. She served nine years as a Tower Controller.
“The job places a lot of demand on you. You have to have full concentration,” she said.
Asked whether being the only woman among a group of men affected her performance in any way, Rismay responded: “Not at all. As an Air Traffic Controller, the guys didn’t look at me as a woman. I had no special treatment and didn’t want any either. They (her male counterparts) say they consider me one of the boys. I had to work the late shifts, the busy schedules, etc. just like anyone else. I’ve had to do my job and do it well so everyone feels safe.”
With two children and a home to take care of, how did she combine motherhood, with being a wife and her professional life?
“It was easy for me,” she said. “I had the support of my family – of my father and mother. I have the support of my husband all the way and throughout my studies. He never complained. He encouraged me and took care of the kids when I was away attending training courses.”
With three professional certificates in the bag, Rismay says she’s not about stopping now.
“I don’t plan to stop. Eventually, I want to step up and become a supervisor. I now have the opportunity to be an instructor, so I train new people. There are two women currently in training to become Air Traffic Controllers.
“It’s good to see a woman as our Managing Director,” she said. “I see that as a positive for me because I want to excel. It is an inspiration for other women.”
Her advice to young women is simple: “Stay in school. Work hard. Don’t let anything bring you down. Don’t let no one tell you because you’re a woman you can’t do it. I held my job as an Air Traffic Controller until two weeks before my daughter was born. So, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it.”
As for her current position as the first and only female Radar Controller at SXM, Rismay, as usual, was simple and to the point: “It’s a nice job. I encourage women to check it out.”

Can SXM Airport Develop into an Aerotropolis?

By Fabian Badejo for SXM Airport

Dr. John Kasarda at SXM Airport’s 70th Anniversary Symposium.
Dr. John Kasarda at SXM Airport’s 70th Anniversary Symposium.

When Prof. John Kasarda spoke, the whole hall listened. And when he had finished speaking, the awe and admiration of his audience translated into one main question: could the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) develop into that grand picture of an aerotropolis, which the world renowned professor had just painted?
The answer would appear to have already been given by the managing director of SXM Airport, Regina LaBega in her own address at the Anniversary Symposium held in December, 2013 that kicked off the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Princess Juliana International Airport. The keynote speaker at the Symposium was Prof. Kasarda, the leading proponent of the aerotropolis concept in the world.
LaBega had set the stage, so to speak, by taking the audience on what she called a “short flight into the future.” It is no flight of fantasy, she stressed as she painted a picture of SXM Airport in the year 2020, which is a mere six years away.
“Imagine,” she began, “that all those jet-setters bound for Anguilla and St. Barths, who normally come in about this time of the year to escape the cold and bask in the warmth of the Caribbean sun, park their Citation, Lear and other private aircrafts at the present location of the Met Office, which by now has been moved closer to the ATS Tower with which it shares a natural synergy. A new ultra-modern FBO facility will be erected here.
“Imagine that as a result of close cooperation with our Justice Ministry and the relevant authorities in Anguilla and St. Barths, these passengers are processed quickly through Immigration, with a pre-clearance for those hub partners. They then come out of SXM Terminal Building, and jump on a yacht or boat that will take them in a short smooth sailing to those destinations where they no longer have to go through the hassle of another immigration check.
For visitors bound for the northern half of the island, she suggested that they would be “ferried to their hotels or private accommodation without having to endure any rush hour traffic on our roads,” that is, if they choose not to drive on the new Causeway.
LaBega further threw out the idea of “all the car rental companies along the Airport Boulevard relocating to a brand new, full service Car Park Center, where passengers can pick up and drop off their rental cars and where the companies can operate virtually out of the airport with more efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
In addition, she proposed a “5-star hotel built at the airport, with a well-equipped Convention Center, and other modern facilities, where apart from events such as conferences, even weddings could be held.”
“Welcome to SXM Airport City!” LaBega proclaimed. “Princess Juliana International Airport is no longer a city airport, but a genuine airport city. Not only do planes take off and land in quick succession here, but all around there is a constant buzz of economic activity. SXM Airport City is not just a transportation infrastructure but a reliable engine of sustainable economic development, catering to at least seven hub destinations.”
“None of this would be possible without the involvement and the enlightened cooperation of the community of Simpson Bay. This involvement and cooperation have so far been readily and willingly offered,” she added.
If hers was a reconnaissance flight, Prof. Kasarda, as chief pilot, took the audience on a long-haul flight, defining the concept of aerotropolis and airport city. After explaining that airports have become multimodal, multifunctional, economic engines driving commercial development well beyond their boundaries, and giving several examples of this, with particular reference to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Prof. Kasarda declared that “airports are where the local and the global converge.”
“Airports are now destinations,” in and of themselves, he added, and cited how some people now respond to the question; “where are you going?” with “To the airport to get married.”
Airport hotels, he continued, are becoming what he termed “virtual corporate headquarters where people fly in for one day conferences and fly out.”
Indeed, for Prof. Kasarda, airports serve as a “calling card” for a country.
“Airports serve markets, not only airlines. Airports also serve their whole islands, not only travelers,” he said.
Speed, Prof. Kasarda stressed, has become an “economic weapon.”
“It’s the fast that are leading the slow, not necessarily the big, (in other words, the economies of scale), leading the small,” he added.
Prof. Kasarda minced no words in identifying the one factor that he said was imperative for the success of developing an airport city or aerotropolis: a committee or task force with a visionary leader at the helm. However, he warned that “vision without action is a daydream, but action without vision is a nightmare.”
He expressed confidence that the management of SXM Airport was on the right path and reiterated in response to questions from the audience that size was not necessarily an impediment, while speed in decision-making and action is a sure way to success.
Smaller airports have been adopting and adapting the aerotropolis model, Prof. Kasarda said. Even airports that have space limitations, he continued, are developing in the direction of a structure that looks more like an airport city or aerotropolis.
Airports in Asia, the Middle East and Europe have been rapidly transforming themselves into airport cities. Singapore (SIN) is a prime example in Asia, with Schiphol in Amsterdam (AMS), Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris and Frankfurt (FRA) in Germany as the models in Europe. US Airports (and almost by extension, those in the Caribbean) are quite behind where this concept is concerned.
These airports, particularly Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle, are run on a private-public sector partnership and are usually devoid of political interference. They have organizations like the Schiphol Group, Fraport or Aeroports de France that basically do business like private sector companies do, not the way governments do business. However, coordination between all stakeholders is central to the successful development of an airport city, Prof. Kasarda stressed.
The driving force behind the aerotropolis model is the route structure; in other words, connectivity. Airports with more connectivity that is, the number of markets/destinations they serve multiplied by the frequency of service to those markets, will obviously attract more aviation-related business to the airports than those with less connectivity.
In this scenario, however, enhancing the passenger experience is fundamental as it would not only lead to increased revenues but also it could attract even more passengers. Kasarda suggested that hub airports should improve their status by reducing costs for airlines that service them and focusing on increasing non-aeronautical revenue sources. The time may come, he said, when rather than airlines paying landing fees, it would be the airports that would pay the airlines for bringing passengers to them.
Prof. Kasarda’s lecture was held under the theme: ‘Leveraging your airport for non-aeronautical revenue and economic development.” The lecture series will soon continue with other guest speakers addressing various themes as SXM Airport celebrates its 70th anniversary.