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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