By Caciques Hannah Leeman and Gian Paul Graziosi

When woke up this morning, everyone was excited and eager to explore the settlements of South Eleuthera. As we each separated into our settlement groups, we set off on our journeys to discover more about Bahamian culture and find a stronger sense of place here on the island. As we passed through the island’s forests and mangrove flats, we saw settlements such as Deep Creek, Greencastle, Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay, and Wemyss Bight.  Through exploring the settlements we met friendly, welcoming people, visited shops, tasted local Bahamian food, and truly get a chance to know our community.
During my time in Rock Sound, my most meaningful experience was when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I knocked on a stranger’s door simply to say hello. Although I was nervous at the outcome, I was greeted with a friendly welcome and invited to stay and talk. The woman I met shared her stories of living on Eleuthera and reminisced about her family and childhood in Rock Sound. After this experience, I truly felt at home in the Bahamian culture and valued the gracious, welcoming atmosphere we are privileged to have here.
During my time at Wemyss Bight, I met many people who were willing to talk and have great conversations. That day, there was a funeral that was taking place at the Church of God. Though my presence felt awkward at a funeral without any invitation, the custom in The Bahamas was that most social events were open to the public. When we came back to the after party, the house next to the church was crowded with people drinking, eating, and celebrating the life of the person who had died rather than only mourning over their death. My friend and I walked in and were welcomed by many strangers. We were given heaping plates of food and talked with many relatives of the deceased. We were given hugs as we left and by that time, my friend and I really felt part of the Island community.