Learn about me from my own words. Many have paved the way for me either before or during my journey. Let me first pay tribute to them, who assisted me with being who I am:
Gene Emanuel | GeneEmanuelFuneralBooklet_FINAL
Who I am and What you can Expect…
Born and raised on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, I grew up straddling the fence of living on campus at the University of the Virgin Islands and spending much time only yards away in the Michael J. Kirwan Terrace Housing community, where I attended Elementary School.
A product of mainly public, with intermittent appearances at private schools, I only attended my Addelita Cancryn Junior High school years in entirety without being moved around. Fast forwarding past All Saints Cathedral School and my parent’s attempt at sending me to Antilles (it didn’t last past one day – my reading level was too high; but my complexion wasn’t high enough – so I lived in Orlando for a year), I attended the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) with a full scholarship as the only early-admission student during my senior high school year of 1996-1997. My educational career includes a bachelor’s degree in Communication focusing on writing and photojournalism, and specializing in Layout and Publication Design with concentrations in both Music and Art.
Between 2004 – 2008, I served in various positions within the UVI Cooperative Extension Service office, not only in my original capacity as a Graphic Designer, but also assisting in other research and public service areas ranging from Communications and 4-H/Family & Consumer Sciences. After receiving my degree, it was during my leading role as Project Assistant for the V.I. AgriTourism Project that I was promoted into a permanent position as an Extension Agent.
As a multi-talented artist, community organizer and educator, I’ve collaboratively participated in various activities with other volunteer organizations either as an organizer, facilitator, graphic artist, photographer, news writer etc. My employment experiences with youth generally include teaching music, graphic design, arts and crafts, technology, culture and history as well as various forms of expressive or performance arts.
I’ve also volunteered as a freelance Graphic Designer/Community Organizer with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional organizations, including The Rock Collective, Per Ankh, Inc., have served on the Department of Human Services Consumer Advisory Committee, Project Safe Neighborhoods VI, VI Anti-Gang Committee, and am a Family Resource Center V.I. Victim Advocate.
I write about all of my moving experiences while educating and influencing youth/students as well as the various cultural/historical activities I either assist with producing, promoting or simply attend. I also will occasionally share insightful moments shared with me by random people while traveling that have interestingly helped me to understand myself and my purpose even deeper. I firmly believe in the importance of documenting experiences for the purposes of cultural preservation along with organizational, historical and personal importance. Thus, I encourage everyone to save and share memories of their experiences through the use of photojournalism, presentations, collages, scrap-booking, social media etc.
I’ve learned so much from the various people I meet and interact with throughout the Virgin Islands and internationally. Because of recognizing the worth in all this; I too have a story to tell about my own life lessons that have helped others and may help even more if/when I share. This website is one place I’ll use to share my story with the world.
Mentorship with University and Community Students
On campus at UVI, I’ve served for years as the Faculty Advisor to the UVI Student Government Association Black Heritage Committee, The Writer’s Block student poets and creative artists club and more recently, the Radio & Multimedia club through WUVI AM 1090’s student organization.
I’m the natural mother of three, but I play vital mentorship roles in various youth organizations. For years, I’ve aspired to collaboratively create a cultural education-centered charter school, afterschool program or weekend initiative where along with other local artists and culture bearers, Virgin Islands students and tourists would learn from and pass on trades and crafts to youth of all ages in order to insure the preservation and documentation of our heritage. At this institution, I envision using technology and the arts to teach youth while strengthening their emotional maturity /judgment, leadership abilities, adaptability, communication skills, enthusiasm, energy, self-confidence, respect for elders/authority (and others) but especially themselves. This would help them to have a better appreciation for their families, environments, nature and the other integral partners of our planet.
Through my non-profit, KWANZAA365, I created the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative which focuses on volunteer community documentation work generally including the passing on of cultural education through use of various media, technology, arts or cultural and historical projects. In order to facilitate my work I have written, received and managed grants, partnered with or gained support from various local agencies including the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the VI Lottery Youth Enrichment Initiative, the V. I. Academic and Cultural Endowment Scholarship, First Lady Cecille deJongh. KWANZAA365 is co-managed by Per Ankh Institute which serves as a fiduciary.
As a group, we travel throughout the territory to different cultural events where the Sankofa Saturdays students serve as the youth media team in cultural tours, nature walks, conferences, poetry readings and other arts or cultural education activities throughout the territory. They then post pictures, comments and video on their social media to share what they’ve learned with the world through their weekly youth radio show.
I realize how much the Virgin Islands has to offer for so many different types of people from all walks of life. Through use of multi-media I’m just happy to share this from my humble perspective with our community and the rest of the world.
Being a Digital Ambassador
Digital Ambassadors are official goodwill representatives of whatever we’re supporting in life via the internet and/or multi-media. We help our cause or brand engage and reach people through Social Media sites and other online venues.
So for me, I’m basically just being myself in a way that more people can see easier and faster. Showing my love for the Virgin Islands, for helping individuals, businesses and organizations independently and collaboratively while promoting #VIpride in various ways. Whether it be using multi-media forms of communication, marketing and education or simply pointing people in the right direction to find who or what they seek in the community.
Taking our #VInice hospitality to another level…
Come check us out… take a closer look at who, what and why we really are.