Holly Nicolas is much more than a really nice Postal Clerk. Olivia Bartlett of the Wesleyan Connection has the scoop:
“It’s fun to interact with the university’s faculty, staff and students every day, and I like when I can put a face with a name,” Nicolas says. “Working here, you see people’s names over and over and it’s good to know who they are. The students are surprised when I can know their mailbox number off the top of my head, but when you look at them every day; it stays in your head.”
In addition to his mail duties, Nicolas has one other job requirement – playing the role of deejay for Wesleyan Station. The lifelong music lover is an expert on Haitian beats, from traditional kompa dance music to band a pied, which is played with brass horns and drums.
In February, Nicolas was featured on Afropop Worldwide Radio. The interview of Nicolas was conducted by Sean Barlow ’79, president of World Music Productions/Afropop Worldwide Radio in Brooklyn, and freelance guitarist and Afropop Worldwide host Banning Eyre ’80. The recording is online here.
Nicholas talked about his memories of Haitian Carnival. The carnival season begins Jan. 6 on Three Kings Day and runs until Fat Tuesday. During the last three days of this period, some Haitians dress in colorful costumes and dance, sing, dance and celebrate their culture.
The celebration was a tradition for Nicolas, who grew up in Ouanaminthe, a small town that borders the Dominican Republic on the northeast of Haiti. During one carnival, he recalls, local musicians sang about a woman who stole a chicken.
“That was funny to me, because I knew that woman. She lived next to me,” he says.
This is Nicolas’ eighth year working at Wesleyan. In the early 1990s, he met Wesleyan’s Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor religion, African American Studies and American Studies. McAlister was in Haiti, studying Haitian traditions and Voodoo. The couple married and spent three years trying to get Nicolas’ daughter, Lovely, to America. She is now 20 and a sophomore at Hampshire College.
Nicolas and McAlister live in Middletown with their children, Sacha, 13, and Julien, 8. He enjoys cooking Haitian food for his family and playing intramural soccer.
He returns to his native country once a year but never regrets moving to the U.S.
“Moving to American was a good move for me, but it was especially a good move for my daughter, who now lives in a safer environment with better educational opportunities,” he says. “We are both very fortunate.”
Also, watch out for his son, Julien. He’s a little charmer.