Bahamas coming to Bexley in May

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Messenger photos by John Matuszak

Bexley High science teacher Rose Blanchard displays some of the many items dyed at the Androsia factory, and explains how flamingos are used to filter water in salt manufacturing in the Bahamas.

 
Benjamin Abramson, a Montrose Elementary student, finds it’s easy being green after dyeing batik t-shirts in preparation for a May visit from residents of Andros Island in the Bahamas. Other students dyed the bright orange shirts, replicating a major industry on the island. Students will wear the shirts when the Andros residents arrive.

Many people dream of traveling to the Bahamas, but the Bahamas will be coming to Bexley May 11-22, in the person of five adults and five children from Andros Island.

The visit is part of the continuing relationship between the two communities, that started with students studying at the marine biology station on the island and has continued with book drives and school supply donations.

Since 2004, Bexley schools have donated 40,700 books to libraries on the island, according to Bexley High School science teacher Rose Blanchard,

The latest shipment, 3,000 pounds of books, went out this spring. The Bahamian Minister of Education has asked the Bexley residents to keep the donations coming, as they have greatly promoted literacy among students.

Blanchard and others have traveled frequently to the island schools. This will be the first time residents of Andros have visited here. Blanchard will meet the group in Florida and drive to Ohio, allowing the visitors an opportunity to see the Smoky Mountains and other sites along the way.

Their contingent will include basket makers, a concrete sculptor and a professional cook, who will share their crafts with students and attend the annual arts festival.

In preparation for the visit, Montrose Elementary students have been creating batik dyed t-shirts, similar to those produced on the island.

The industry was established on Andros to provide jobs and to fashion souvenirs sold to tourists.

The students re-created the experience of the Androsia factory, dying t-shirts that were delivered from Andros embossed with wax designs. The dyes adhere to the fabric and not the wax, leaving behind the designs that decorate everything from tote bags to bandanas.

The kids managed to get some of the dye, in bright orange and green, into the t-shirts, while delighting in having some of the color linger on their hands and arms.

The project was made authentic, right down to time cards that were punched for the time they put in. Blanchard plans to provide the students with copies of Bahamian money for their work.

She showed the students just how close the two economies are connected. The Morton salt used in the dying process, bought in Bexley, was produced in the Bahamas, the teacher pointed out.

The salt is produced as large pools of water evaporate. Brine shrimp are spread in the pools to attract flamingos, which filet out the algae in the water.

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