[VIDEO] Project Runway Winner Anya Ayoung-Chee (Season 9) Discusses How to Connect Children to Caribbean Culture

Eva Greene-Wilson and Anya Ayoung-Chee at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards, Washington DC

Eva Greene-Wilson and Anya Ayoung-Chee at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards, Washington DC

Eva Greene-Wilson and William Bunny Rugs Clarke at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards, Washington DC

Eva Greene-Wilson and William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards, Washington DC

Anya Ayoung-Chee, Trinidadian fashion designer and winner of Project Runway, and William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke, legendary Jamaican reggae recording artist were honored by the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the 2012 Caribbean American Heritage Awards in Washington, DC.  I was there to chat with the honorees, and find out their suggestions for parents looking to keep their kids connected to Caribbean culture.

Click here to view video on Youtube...


Socamom: What is one of the things that you would suggest to a parent whose trying to keep their kids connected to culture?  What activities would you suggest?

Anya Ayoung-Chee: I think that one of the things that remained integral to my life growing up in Trinidad was that we always had family dinner – regardless of what plans anyone else had, regardless of what else might be coming into the forum – we had to have family dinner every night.  No phone calls allowed, it was very traditional in that sense. That meant we always caught up with each other every evening – what was happening in school, what was happening with our parents, what was happening teenagers, it was really really valuable. Of course I grew up Catholic, so going to church was a very regular experience for us, every Sunday. So, things like that – whether it’s church or whether it’s dinner or whatever it is, I think regularized and very focused time spent together was very important.

Socamom: What are one or two [pieces of] advice that you can give to a mom or a dad who lives in America that wants to make sure that their kids stay connected to culture?

William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke: I think that they should expose them to what they were exposed to. As far as food is concerned, I think they should introduce them to the Caribbean type of eating. Constantly remind them of who you are, and where you’re from, and how it took a journey to make that transition here, so that they could have a better life or a better future…. more access to education.  I think that by showing them that they’ll appreciate it much more, and probably [be] much more cooperative to mom.

Socamom: You are now a fashion icon.  With Carnival  and so many things in Trinidad that are very creative, how would you suggest to inspire children to go [in] your direction?

Anya Ayoung-Chee: I think there are many ways, but when you speak about Carnival specifically, it’s really fantastic to do Kiddies Carnival.  Kiddies Carnival gives you the opportunity to play mas in a setting that is very safe, and at the same time very expressive.  In fact, Kiddies Carnival is way more expressive to me than a lot of grown up mas.  It’s an opportunity to really know what it feels like to not only creat a costume, because often times you do create your own costume, but also to feel what it feels like to wear something you’ve made and to know what that means – to create and [have the] experience all at once – Carnival really creates that opportunity for us.

No Kiddies Carnival? Getting ready to take your kids to watch Carnival in DC, Baltimore, Miami, New York, Toronto, Atlanta, or in a town near you?  Here are some activities that you can do with your kids at home to get them into the colorful, creative spirit...

Carnival headpiece craft (paper)

Carnival headpiece craft (feathers and gems)

Carnival face paint tutorial

Carnival face paint coloring sheet

More to come from the Caribbean American Heritage Awards honorees Constance White, Editor in Chief of from Essence Magazine, Shaka Hislop from the Soca Warriors and ESPN, and Andy Ingraham from the National Association of Black Hotel Owners and Operators.

Read more about Caribbean Culture on SocaMom.com

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