Video: Tea and Company

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My journey in all things tea started centuries ago with the roots work of my indigenous African ancestors. It continued with the bush medicine of my Jamaican grandmothers (with which they adapted and elevated the hospitality traditions of their British colonizers). It carried on with my mother’s herbal healing traditions which she combined with her conventional nursing skills, plus her love of fine china and gracious entertaining, passed on to me. But that’s a long story for another day.

Today I’ll just share with you one milestone in my wanderings among the tea gardens, and that’s my four years at Wellesley college. This weekend I returned to my all-women’s Alma Mater, where the art of afternoon tea is steeped in 140-plus years of tradition.

The occasion was the 45th anniversary of Harambee House, a campus community center for students of African descent, who make up just six percent of the current student body. The recent headlines about diversity issues on American campuses highlight how alien and unwelcoming our halls of higher education can seem to students of color.

Harambee, Swahili for “working or pulling together,” opened its doors in 1970 to create a sanctuary of sisterhood, tea and sympathy for Black students at Wellesley. In this video, current students talk about tea, taking charge of their destinies and becoming “global citizens.”

In my next post, I’ll share some highlight photos from the anniversary celebration, which included a Wellesley Alumni of African Descent reception, a networking brunch and an awards gala honoring achievements of students, faculty and alumni. ┬áIn the one after that, I’ll share a little piece of the “long story,” the part where, while at Wellesley, I learn about diversity and becoming a global citizen, simply by sharing tea with people who are different from me.

Where do you go to find tea and company? Please share!