Greetings. My name is Jewel and I am currently working on an Ethnographic Assessment and Overview in St. John and Hassel Island in the US Virgin Islands in conjunction with the National Park Service and the University of South Florida. I am very passionate about this project because I am from the Virgin Islands, being raised on the neighboring island of St. Croix. Though trained to be an environmental engineer, this project allows me to engage with my community via an anthropological study and to learn more about the history of my people living here as it connects to survival and sustainability.
This is my second time being on the island of St. John and of the many faces I have been introduced to so far, my favorite is Charles, a native of St. John and gardener at the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. From the moment I met him I was intrigued by the natural lifestyle he embraced which I was so accustomed to growing up with my own parents. I grew up in the Rastafarian faith and few of the guiding principles include being closely connected to the earth, knowing thyself, and showing remembrance for our ancestors and heritage. Being apart of the Rastafarian faith himself, Charles kindly welcomes all who visit him and is very enthusiastic in teaching all he knows about the history of St John by reminding everyone that there is no limit on educating yourself. He reminded me of my culture as he spoke of the many uses of the plants he grows and how preserving the land has made him stronger in mind, body and spirit. The love and respect he has for the history of his people embodies what it means to be a true Virgin Islanders and he made me proud I could call myself one.