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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth kicks off events for Caribbean Carnival

Events have included a film screening, a crafting event and conversations with professors.

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Dartmouth’s annual Caribbean Carnival festivities began on April 10. The five planned events — which will take place through April 20 — celebrate the diverse cultural region that spans 13 nations and 700 islands, according to the Office of Pluralism and Leadership’s website.

According to OPAL’s website, last year’s Caribbean Carnival only had two events — the “Let’s Talk Carnival” discussion and the Carnival Day celebration — and only one student was involved in planning. This year there are eight students involved who have, for the first time, formed an entire student planning committee.

“Carnival is a festival in celebration of freedom, honoring the monumental historical and cultural moments of the Caribbean,” according to the OPAL website.

This year’s carnival theme is “One Love,” inspired by the recent biopic, “Bob Marley: One Love.” To kick off celebrations, the College screened the film on April 12 along with a pre-screening event in the Black Visual Arts Center that included Caribbean-themed balloons, custom stickers and snacks, according to the OPAL website.

“[The film] was really inspirational and was a good way to showcase the Jamaican Rastafari culture,” Caribbean Carnival co-chair Jada McMeo ’26 said.

According to OPAL Latine and Caribbean Student advisor Jazmine Gittens-Roberts, organizers catered the food at the event to be regionally authentic, including a Cheeto-like snack called Big Foot, plantain chips and Ting grapefruit sodas.

“We imported some of the snacks and beverages that are familiar to the Caribbean,” Gittens-Roberts said. 

On April 13, the Caribbean Carnival committee — which is run by OPAL — hosted a crafting event on the Shabazz Lawn and in the Shabazz mural room. Attendees from both Caribbean and non-Caribbean backgrounds created tote bags, masks and flags reflective of their heritage, according to McMeo. 

Celebrations continued on April 15, with a conversation event titled “Let’s Talk Carnival” held in Kemeny Hall. The discussion — which explored the annual cultural experience and was accompanied by Brazilian food — was led by Dartmouth professors from both the Caribbean and other countries that celebrate Carnival. 

McMeo said that this “unique” event was an opportunity to embrace her culture while connecting with professors. 

On April 17, the Caribbean Carnival committee held a game night event in the Shabazz mural room and basement, which featured dominoes and loodi, which is also known as parche — “two games that are popular in the Caribbean,” according to the OPAL website. 

The final event of the carnival, Carnival Day festivities, will be held on the Shabazz lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 20. 

“It’s open to all the staff, students, community members — anyone that really wants to learn about the culture,” McMeo said. 

Gitten-Roberts said that she thinks this year’s Carnival Day celebration may attract fewer students than last year’s. Although she said the 2023 celebration was “smaller” in scale, the Carnival Day celebration was held on Massachusetts Row, which experiences more student traffic. While this year’s event on Shabazz lawn will be less central on campus, having a full committee of students has “shaped the event into a larger event than last year,” Gittens-Roberts said.

Though McMeo said Carnival Day is often the “biggest day” of the celebration schedule, she added that she is also “excited for all the events leading up to it.”

In honor of the festivities, organizers are also partnering with local businesses. Still North Books & Bar has added several books to its shelves to mark the occasion, assistant store manager H Rooker wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth. Titles include “Defiant Bodies” by Nikoli A. Attai, “Plantains and Our Becoming: Poems” by Melania Luisa Martem and “River Sing Me Home” by Eleanor Shearer, they wrote.

The Still North Books & Bar café also named its “Drink of the Month,” One Love Lemonade, after the Marley film and carnival theme. The drink features Caribbean flavors, including a new ginger syrup made in-house.

“We’re so excited at Still North to be able to work with the Dartmouth Office of Pluralism & Leadership for Caribbean Carnival Week,” Rooker wrote. “OPAL was kind enough to reach out to us to collaborate on creating our One Love Lemonade and a curated book display to highlight Caribbean authors and culture.”

Rooker said Still North has worked with OPAL on “many events in the past,” including a collaboration through OPAL’s “Visibility: 2024” event on April 17 for a reading and signing event with author Bushra Rehman. The carnival event, however, is “the first collaboration of this type,” Rooker explained. 

McMeo emphasized her enthusiasm for the week of celebrations.

“I’m just really excited in general,” McMeo said. “Hopefully, we can encourage the community to come out, Caribbean or not.”