Lesson 502 – Trinidad and Tobago: Where East Meets West

The island of Trinidad and its small companion, Tobago, form the most ethnically diverse nation in the Caribbean and are home to an extraordinary variety of wildlife species. We sample Trinidadian food with its strong East Indian roots and are reminded of African traditions as we watch stilt walkers practicing and steel bands rehearsing. We hear the haunting calls of oilbirds and watch leatherback sea turtles excavating their massive beachside nests.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about cultural, geographical and environmental highlights of the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

Social Studies Standards

Production, Distribution & Consumption: A, I

Discussion Prompts

  • How does stilt walking help at risk children in Trinidad and where does this custom originate? What else does the School of Art & Culture offer for students?
  • How is the combination of cultures in Trinidad represented in the meals host David Yetman and Bill Beezley eat? What specific foods, spices and meats represent the culture? Compare to a meal you eat that is specific to your region.
  • What is an activity that you would like to experience while visiting Trinidad or Tobago that would not be possible in the region where you live? Explain why you selected this activity.
  • What are the effects of having no industry on the island of Tobago that contrasts with the success of the oil industry in Trinidad? What other ways can the residents of Tobago support themselves economically?

Lesson Activities

  • Create a reference guide from the perspective of a cultural analyst that shows how the ethnically diverse residents of Trinidad were brought together and what factors create their happiness and ability to get along.
  • Research the scarlet ibis and oilbird in a PowerPoint presentation. Share information about what makes the Trinidad mangroves a good home for these birds. Tell about some of the other species of birds that live here.
  • Create an itinerary for a 2-day trip in Trinidad focuses both on nature and a visit to the city. Write at least 5 blog entries for outings that highlight the uniqueness of the island and uses terminology from the video.
  • Select 4 animals (including the sea turtle) from the video and create a 4-way Venn diagram that compares and contrasts their habitat, features, and interesting facts. Include drawings or photos.


  • affluent
  • appropriated
  • commerce
  • choreography
  • indentured laborers
  • longevity
  • microcosm
  • prosperity
  • scarlet ibis
  • trekking


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 2