Soil from the Heart of the Country

By Jheri St.James

     Suriname is the modern name of French Guiana, on the South American continent a republic traded to the Dutch by the English in 1667, in exchange for New York City, then called New Amsterdam. Suriname gained full independence from the Dutch in 1975, a chaotic time of population upheavals and border disputes with French Guiana and Guyana and then, following a bloodless military coup in 1980, the country returned to democratic rule in 1988. This little dot on the map of South America has seen its share of turbulent existence, plenty of non-peaceful history.

     Suriname lies on the northeast coast of South America, a tropical land of unexplored forest highlands and flat Atlantic coast. East Indian, Creole and Indonesian people populate this land, as well as Europeans, Chinese and Native Americans. Many languages are spoken there: Creole Sranang, Tongo, Hindi, Javanese, Chinese, English, French and Spanish.

     Nick Bosustow, a Peace Corps staff member in Suriname, collected the soil for Common Ground 191 from this complex region of the world. “What a thrill, in today’s world, to find out about Gary (Simpson)’s incredible vision. I am very sensitive to the need for all of us to reach out to one another. I sent two samples, one from our yard where we live in Paramaribo. I wanted to have a personal connection. And the other, as a symbol of the country, from the bank of the Surinam River, “The Heart of the Country.”

     Every man and every country has a heart as well as a language. How lovely to bring them all together in this loving volunteer’s contribution to Common Ground 191, a testimony to the language of the heart.








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