Activities and Events

Since its inception in 2007, VFOA has been responsible for more than 30 events in the U.S. and Panama. The following are noteworthy events among the many workshops, activities, presentations, and competitions that VFOA has organized and hosted, or in which VFOA has participated.

VFOA participated, for the fifth consecutive year, in the Great West Indian Fair sponsored by SAMAAP, the Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama, held in ATLAPA in Panama City, Panama, March 5 and 6, 2011.

This year, VFOA offered an African Art Appreciation Workshop for kids instructed by photographer and graphic designer Gabriela Mariño. More than 70 kids participated in the workshop in which they learned about the stories told through African art.

We thank SAMAAP for inviting us, and we look forward to participating again in the future.
»» View Event Photos

VFOA helped the Global Education Center and Logos Rhythms to put on "The Keeping Place: Poetry and the African American Experience" featuring poets Nikky Finney and E. Ethelbert Miller.


VFOA Exhibit with the Center for the Afro-Panamanian Studies (CEDEAP) at Mi Pueblito in Panama City, Panama

Opening Ceremony: July 22, 2010 at 6pm
Exhibit dates: July 22-August 22, 2010
»» View Event Photos

Collaborative Exhibit with the Center for Afro-Panamanian Studies

In July 2010 VFOA collaborated the Center for Afro-Panamanian Studies at Mi Pueblito Afroantillano with Professor Gerardo Maloney to inaugurate an exhibit of art (as) education banners based on the project's interviews. The event featured presentations by VFOA interviewers, and photographers, a musical performance by Armando Machore. It was well attended by a wide range of interested community members, leaders, educators, and professionals. Caterers included respondent Sarah Williams.

Oral History Workshop, Essay Competition, and University Curriculum Development

In 2008, VFOA and the English Department at the University of Panama joined to hold three events in celebration of Black History month. In addition to hosting an Oral History Workshop emphasizing the importance of West Indian oral history in the university classroom, the department and VFOA held an essay contest. Finally, an interactive exercise involving curriculum development demonstrations, VFOA data and interviews, and group presentations concluded the event. See more details about this event under Students.

West Indian Women's Tea Time

The West Indian Women's Tea Time in April 2007 allowed for West Indian women of different generations to exchange stories and life experiences on education, family, courtship, and fashion. Women were divided into groups to discuss specific topics and then wrote summaries of what they had learned. Each summary became part of a group collage that sparked informative discussion about the trajectory of women's lives over the years.

West Indian Men's Gathering

The West Indian Men's Gathering was organized and hosted by VFOA in 2007 with the help of Fernando Brown and Delano Philips, providing a setting for men to share their memories and stories related to the music of different eras. Musicians, singers, ethnomusicologists, and music fans relived the history of Panamanian West Indian music and discussed their role in keeping it alive for future generations.

Oral History in K-12 Education

Following a VFOA Oral History Workshop in February, teachers from the Instituto Episcopal San Cristobal's English Department collaborated with VFOA in the creation of a student competition for Black History Month. Students interviewed members of the West Indian-Panamanian community and prepared group presentations on their interpretations of the interviews. After the interview sessions, twenty-nine 12th grade students submitted their presentations to a panel of judges, who determined the contest winners. See more details under Students.

Martha Olton Productions Events

VFOA is a regular participant in these cultural events, including the Panamanian Black Ethnicity Festival.

SAMAAP (Society of Friends of the Afro Antillean Museum of Panama) Annual Fair

In February 2009, the VFOA team participated in the SAMAAP (Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama) Fair by hosting a table of exhibition banners to demonstrate the community's work and contributions over the previous two years, organizing an interactive tour of the Afro-Antillean museum, setting up a Children's Corner to provide youth with creative, alternative activities, and showing a presentation that featured the creative work of VFOA respondents.

In 2010 VFOA organized an African-based art workshop for the Children's Corner. Run by graphic artist Gabriela de Marino, the workshop enabled children to learn about and work on producing their own art featuring African-descended individuals, features, and aesthetics.

Reception for Esteban Lan – 10th Anniversary of Almanaque Lan

In February 2009, VFOA showed support for Mr. Lan, as one of our respondents and also as one of Colón's best sources of information about its history and its people, by encouraging others to support the publication of his almanacs. Special guests at the event included Colón Free Zone administrator Nilda Quijano, the mayor of Colón, Dr. Antonio Latiff, and such well known veterans as boxer Eladio Secades (Amaya "El moreno alegre de Colón") and baseball player Pablo Cobos (hijo), who were featured in the 2009 Almanaque Lan.

Conozca Su Canal

In August 2007, VFOA teamed with the Society of Friends of the West Indian Museum of Panama (SAMAAP) to coordinate the "Conozca Su Canal" (Know Your Canal) event. Public and private schools in Panama competed to determine which schools' students knew more about their West Indian heritage and the contributions of West Indian descent to Panama's history, society, and culture.