Friday, 30 November 2012

I Am Aware. I Live Up. Meeting a real life SHEro

I believe that at this moment in time, the changes we need as a society, as a region, will be spear-headed by women and the youth. That is not to disregard the impact that men will no doubt have. Without the men following suit, we will not be able to say that we truly evolved. As a young woman, I fit into the two demographics that are most likely to be agents of change, I am acutely aware of my responsibility and it is not something I take lightly. But if I am to be completely honest, I would have to tell you that sometimes I feel like my actions would not be as significant as I hope. In moments like these, I have to look outside of myself for stories, for people who did the little or the much that they could and who persevered to see that effort be a catalyst for the change we need on crucial issues with regard to the improvement of our well-being as a people/region- issues such as the pandemic of HIV/AIDS infections within the Caribbean.

I previously posted about my experiences in Barbados as a student, how my eyes were opened and how it spurred within me an adventurous spirit that likely would not have been present if I was not away from “yaad”. One of the new experiences was entering this bathing suit competition turned reality show- Island Queen. Stay with me here- It will all connect. The winner of Island Queen 2012 would go on to be an ambassador of HIV/AIDS awareness as the competition was, that year, produced by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP) and Media Support International. The theme that year was: I am Aware: Soldiers of Awareness. The CBMP’s “Live Up” campaign was integrated into the Island Queen competition as part of our workshops and challenges. I was very skeptical about these workshops- I pictured stuffy atmospheres with the usual questions and cliché role-playing scenarios that would leave us feeling no more inspired than before we came. Boy, was I wrong! A couple of our more notable challenges were: where we went to a cricket match at a stadium (cricket is big sport in Barbados- I said that in a Bajan accent, by the way J ) where we held up signs with messages about safe sex, knowing your status and putting an end to discrimination- not something for the timid, I should tell you;  and where we had to make up our own message for a commercial about condoms that were not your typical kind in look, feel and, in some cases (so I heard) taste- talk about nerves! I will be sure to elaborate more on these in future posts. On one of our workshops, we were introduced to the Chair of CBMP- Dr. Carol Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs’s accolades are too many for me to note them all here but believe me when I say she is very accomplished and well-renowned for her contributions to aid in curtailing the pandemic.
IQ cntestants with Dr. Jacobs and Rupee

Sharing our stories at the workshop with Dr. Jacobs and Rupee
Dr. Jacobs is Jamaican born and educated female who now lives in Barbados- immediate connection for me. The fact that she recognizes the importance of not just the message but the messenger made me connect with her all the more. She has had her fair share of naysayers because of her work with those who have had to live with or suffer from this disease- she was often called “the AIDS lady” by many hecklers. Dr. Jacobs remained steadfast in her quest to help stem HIV/AIDS and her efforts have been recognized throughout the region. We all shared our experiences (if we had any) with and views about persons who have HIV/AIDS. One thing I could speak on was knowing someone who, at the time of her passing, it was said that she died from pneumonia and later finding out that that was not the whole story- that she had also contracted HIV which later turned into AIDS. The stigma attached to such a disease is the reason why so many keep quiet and do not seek help or even try to protect themselves by being equipped with the knowledge of their status. Caribbean artist Rupee was also a guest and told us his story of having a mother and father die from AIDS and how this changed his approach to life and his career. Dr. Jacobs told us of her work with young people and sex workers and the practices they engaged in that put them at risk and the stigma attached to persons with HIV/AIDS and how that stigma contributed in large part to the risky practices and attitudes of the youth. It was funny how much I thought I knew as a young person myself but some of what Dr. Jacobs told me blew my mind. The lingo these children were using to describe the sexual acts they engaged in was news to my ears. But this is to be expected. The children nowadays are more exposed to sex than we were as kids and even when we were kids, we were a lot more advanced than we were given credit for. This is something that we seem to forget as soon as we make the transition from child to adult. It causes such a huge gap in communication, it’s no wonder our young people find it hard to listen to us- they don’t feel we can relate to them and truth is, we often times cannot because we have chosen to repress the truth of our past and deny the reality of their present because it makes us uncomfortable.

What I really appreciated about Dr. Jacobs was the fact that she got that even though you might have the answers, the problems won’t get solved if no one will listen. Seeing that they focus on young people, she had become aware the best people to help spread the messages needed are young people themselves. "If we are going to engage our songwriters, our artists, our entertainers, young people like you", she said, "it must be in a real kind of way. It must be in your world in real time." So they sought to educate young folks like myself and put us into action. Want to get people involved in a cause? Show them how imperative they are to its success. Calling them soldiers certainly helps to build patriotism, in my opinion J. I loved how they incorporated the Soldiers of HIV/AIDS awareness theme into our bathing suits which were designed and made by the incredible sister team of Nikita and Alyssa Goddard and into the photo-shoot (expect posts on these too- I have included two behind-the-scenes pics of the first shoot as a teaser).  It was cemented into our minds the importance of not just knowing our status but of being safe and encouraging others to be safe and the complementary task of doing everything we can do to help eliminate the prejudice against those of us living with HIV/AIDS.

This was the first set the attempted to use for the shoot. That gun was HEAVY! The lady in yellow is one of the designers of the swimsuit, Nikita. I needed her help holding it. Trust me!

They meant business. I am covered with actual motor oil and lying in a box of bullets. Themed shoots for the win! This was the second setup but it was by no means, the last or the least scary O_O.
Dr. Jacobs told us of other ambassadors that had signed on from Jamaica- Olympic champions Shelly Ann Fraser- Pryce (who is a graduate of my alma mater! FYI, Shelly and I were on the high school track team together- albeit for a brief period of time since I eventually left), Yohan Blake and Veronica Campbell-Brown- how awesome is that?! I mean, if you want a message to spread fast, who better to carry that than some of the fastest athletes in the world? To think that I am part of a cause along with these other great Jamaicans is amazing and humbling at the same time. I think I was in the perfect place at the perfect time when I went to Barbados. I was reluctant and homesick and I went begrudgingly. Little did I know how great a part this move would play in helping me to find one of my purposes. Dr. Jacobs did mention that to the young children (primary school level) did see even us 20+ year olds as “old” so it really hit home that I better get on to spreading this message while I still have their ears. Young or old, male or female, we all can play a pivotal role in getting rid of new cases of this disease. The key is to be creative and to persistent in the cause. For my part, I have sought to utilize social media and its influence to spread awareness. Not just with this blog post but with Facebook posts and Twitter updates. No one can deny the power of social media in today's world especially on young people. Here's hoping the message to eliminate this virus goes viral. Oh, look at the play on words!

Dr. Jacobs, I thank you and I salute you. You are a champion for women and Jamaicans everywhere. I hope the vision of a AIDS-free generation comes to pass in your lifetime. It was an absolute honor to have met you.

Myself and Dr. Jacobs

Much love to Rupee for coming along and sharing his story of how he was personally affected by HIV/AIDS with the loss of his mother and father due to the disease. As I said before, men are important to this movement and male entertainers are great potential messengers, in my opinion.

Me and Mr. Tempted To touch himself- Rupee

P.S. December 1 is World Aids Day. It is a chance for us to unite worldwide in the fight against AIDS. Let’s all do our part, no matter how small. Know your status. Help stop discrimination. Let’s love ourselves and each other.

Love. Protect. Respect.                                                                                                                                                                
One Love J

One more thing- I have been trying to get footage of Dr. Jacobs' and Rupee's visit but because the show has yet to air, it's been tricky. I must admit that I am now rethinking my decision to wait until the episodes air to give my side/ insider scoop on what was really "real" ;) based on what each episode airs. I thought that would be a great opportunity for us to be more interactive but the delay has been way longer than expected. What I can offer in the meantime is a trailer that is online that speaks about the competition on a whole but does drive home the major theme behind it (being soldiers of awareness). Dr. Jacobs' cameo starts at 4:47.

This post is a part of UNICEF Jamaica's #HashCon2012 whose topic this year is "Positive SHEroes: Strong women working towards an AIDS-free generation." Find out more about #Hashcon2012 here and vote for my post (if you are so inclined :) ) here. Also, tell me how you Live Up in the comments.

Again, the link to vote for me is:

Photo credit for first photo:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Music Box: Jamaica Edition- Denyque, Cherine Anderson and Protoje

I decided I wanted to share my opinions on some videos/songs from some Jamaicans. This may become a new feature of the blog or it may just be something I do whenever I feel so inclined. I may expand to artists who are not Jamaican, I may review movies and other forms of entertainment. I don’t know what niche my blog fits into if it even fits into one and I’m ok with that, to be honest. Trying to speak on just one area or blog about one aspect of my life (being a Jamaican studying overseas) has really been too restrictive for me and that may be why I haven’t posted a post like that in a while even after I have retained a new laptop charger and now have access to the pictures. Feeling free to blog as I wish about whatever is on my mind is the key to me improving as a blogger, I think. As it pertains to the music box features or any features in which I give my opinions on something in entertainment, do not expect to see words typically used in reviews by professionals or wannabe-pros. I do not naturally use most of the language these people use and I would not feel comfortable trying to imitate it. In truth, it bores me so I’m not interested in speaking like that. Also, I won’t be reviewing evry how new song or album or video. I’m not aiming to be a music blogger. Just blogging as I see fit. Thanks in advance for understanding. Now on to the post

I stopped by my girl MszRockstar's site and saw the latest visual offering from dancehall artist Denyque called I Miss You.

This video reminds me of Chrisette Michelle’s latest offering “Charades” because of the extended series-of-glamour-shots treatment. It’s a simple video that suits the song and it helps a great deal that Denyque is a very pretty girl. I don’t get why she wiped the makeup off. I assume it was to be symbolism for stripping down since she had taken off some of her jewelry right before. Still, it changes to black and white so we don’t really get to see her barefaced. Also, why was it raining? Where are you, Denyque, that water is falling from above and wetting you? Was this all a ploy to plant the image of a wet you in our minds? Well played, mama.  As for the song, it’s a nice tune. Reminds me a lot of something Alaine would do. In fact, her voice started sounding more and more like Alaine’s with each chorus. Overall, the song and video are a decent effort. One thing I do remember each time I hear a Denyque song is when a friend of mine said that Denyque won’t truly have major success in Jamaica until she has a “walk out” song. There may be some truth to this but we’ll see. It seems likely that she’ll go the route of Alaine if she continues like this and that would be a bit sad because Alaine’s career is not at the level it should be given how talented she is. Still, Denyque is a fresher face and a risk-taker from early on, as we can see with her look, so hopefully this means she has more in store for us and is going to try her hand at different sounds and she’ll be charming enough to make us like what we typically would not openly embrace.
Rating: 3/5 high notes

I also stopped by SwadeDaVillain's site 13th Street Promotions and viewed the videos for Cherine Anderson’s “Haffi Come Back” and Protoje’s “Kingston Be Wise”

The "First Lady" is still after the last man

This is something I should have mentioned in a previous post when I was addressing my problems with dancehall artistes but it’s just as well as this is an issue that is present in other genres of music- typically urban male-dominated ones where hyper masculinity and bravado are celebrated. The topic of this post is the phenomenon of “The First Lady” in a crew or group of musicians. It’s a title that is supposedly to inspire thoughts and feelings of royalty and garner respect but I see it as a ploy to keep women out of real positions of dominance, to quell any real chances of a takeover or of there being a level playing field.

There’s the saying, if you can’t beat them, join them. Men in the music industry have remixed that and turned it to “To ensure we don’t have to beat them, include and insulate them.” Once a crew had a First Lady, that’s usually it- no more ladies are welcome unless she drops out. They make it seem like such a privilege to be deemed the first lady of their prestigious crew that the women given these titles don’t even realize the competitive and cantankerous attitudes that this practice fosters within the women themselves. Or maybe they realize and they just don’t give a damn. I get it, it’s hard to make it in dancehall and hip hop for a woman and any advantage that an aspiring female star can get, she’s likely to take especially if she has been working hard for long with no significant results. But is every helping hand offered to you THAT helpful in the long run, ladies?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Gold Digger or Independent Woman- Two sides of the same coin?

Placing this in a post so I stop tweeting about the issue and instead make my points in one place. Also, as with all things I think or feel, I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in the future.

The issue at hand is about women being too demanding, feeling entitled and not being “deserving” of things from men (monetary, materialistic things). Are women who have “high” materialistic demands gold diggers?

Let me start by saying that in every partnership, only the parties involved/affected should be making the rules. Stop focusing so much on what “looks right” or is acceptable to the outside world. They will not be helping you dry your tears and they will likely tear you down and forget about you as soon as what you do is not deemed as okay. I believe that in today’s world it is more important than ever that women be able to provide for themselves and their families. We have more opportunities to do so now and we are more aware than ever before of history showing us that there are no guarantees and that, more often than not, being able to do so will become necessary.

I also feel that women have somehow let society force them into inconvenient and uncomfortable positions all because they are afraid of negative perceptions. This had only been to their detriment. If you are in a partnership and you are giving and getting the same as if you were solo, what then is the point of said partnership? Last I checked, you can’t buy groceries just by telling the cashier “I’m a good woman to my man even when he doesn’t deserve it”.

Be able to provide for yourself at least at the basic level, yes. But don’t let society make you feel like there is something wrong with wanting to be with someone who does the same for you or even more. Many men got to where they are on the backs of women who did not ask for anything. And they left those women in the dust after they made it. Do not feel that because you cannot match his monetary contribution, you are unworthy of asking for it. So long as you are doing your part and you are truly being the best mate you can be, it should be okay to ask for what you feel you deserve. The worst that can happen is that they do not feel you deserve that much and then you two will simply figure it out from there. Compromise is not a bad thing and sometimes breaking up is the best option for two people. At the same time, keep striving to be better. Do not get so comfortable that you cannot bounce back if your partner bounces.

There are men out there who do not want their women to spend on them, to spend any money actually. There are women who are content with this. This may not be ideal for you but it does not mean that it cannot and will not be the ideal for others. It does not mean that they cannot be just as happy as you in your relationship set on different priorities. Yes, there may be other facets of the relationship that you may not be willing to put up with but if both parties are ok with it, that is their business. Money symbolizes security to a lot of people. In this capitalist world, we can see why. For many, the end goal is to be rich. This may be because they are used to this or because they have never experienced this financial status and they dream of it. Let’s not pretend that there is no value in being financial able to do a lot of whatever you want in life.

Do not assume that the women who demand a lot financially of their partner are not able to provide for themselves. In this day and age, more women (and men) are becoming smart about how they dig their gold, how they save it and how they invest it. And to say that someone is only deserving of something if they can provide it for themselves is BS. If I put in a valuable contribution to a partnership but I am not able to buy myself the world, are you telling me that neither I nor my partner can say or feel that I deserve the world (or a really expensive equivalent)?
I’d also like to point out that a practice of rich people who are deemed smart is that they never spend their own money, they spend that of others. I have met gold diggers who are very upfront about it who also have their own money whether they work to earn it or they are given it by someone. At the end of the day, the money is theirs and if the source of the money should somehow disappear, they still have enough to get by on a rainy day, month or even year. Many women get left and end up so mad because of how much they gave and how little they received. The ones who ensured they got something tangible out of it have some comfort in knowing that. Maybe there’s something of value that you can take away from a gold digger, Miss Independent.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

My Problem(s) With Dancehall Artists

This post is an attempt to help dancehall artists build a better brand and hopefully become better entertainers. I will be writing as if speaking to the entertainers themselves up until the "P.S." section

Disclaimer: I will not be calling any names and singling any artists out as I do not wish to be attacked by any crazed or idle fans. Feel free to pass this on to some of your favourite dancehall artists.


-          Physical appearance- Females: Exercise. Regardless of your body shape or size, this will help you out in the long run. More is required of women in general when it comes to entertaining and having a toned body and increased stamina can only help. Dress for your size. Stop stuffing yourself into your younger and much smaller sister’s clothes. Those “love” handles hate you for what you try to do to them. I get that we all want to look or feel sexy but if you were really honest with yourselves or had a team around you who really cared about your image, you would realize that what the camera captures most often are failed attempts at a contrived view of sexy. I get that dancehall is about extremes and expressing yourself with a lot of flare but sometimes simplicity can be a good friend to you. Practice proper grooming and get decent stylists. There are just too many fashion blogs out there for the mistakes that so many of you make. Spend some money on your look or try to look like you did.

-          Males: Exercise- women like eye candy as well. You already have a really low standard set in terms of how attractive you have to be to be able to become popular; there is no requirement to be handsome, cute or even “not frightening to small children and anyone with eyes that work”. This does not mean that you should look like you collide with a wall or blunt object every day. Honestly, too many of you look like death warmed over or like you recently had a dramatic bout with a chemical peel (Yes, this is directed at the bleachers- putting that much energy into something whose end product is reminiscent of a zombie clown makes absolutely no sense). Dress like you were not surprised that you would have to venture into a public place. At one point I had two theories: Some entity or organization was going around and dragging the men of dancehall out of their beds and forcing them to perform or some gang was robbing them of their decent wardrobe pieces- so much so that they decided to stop trying to acquire any sensible clothes altogether. The sloppiness with which most of you carry yourselves is truly disgraceful considering the fact that you are paid to be public figures and your own fans dress up to see you perform. At least try to match the efforts your fans make. Geez!

-          General Note: Stop looking like everyone else in dancehall or the latest musical pop culture “icon”. Try to present yourself in a manner that is unique and true to who you are, not who you see is “selling big” or who you think is likely to sell big;
-         Stop being so lazy. It’s part of why your fans are lazy to support your work on a larger scale.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Yohan Blake's Secret

We all know Yohan Blake as one of the fastest men in the world- the second fastest, to be exact, and he is tied with Tyson Gay for that title. If you did not know, you’re not Jamaican and I understand and I forgive you for that. Luckily, now you know this and you may go on your merry way researching fun facts about this incredibly talented and hard-working young man. If you do not wish to stray from this article (which, let’s be honest, none of you do) you are in luck because here you will find one very fun and previously unknown fact about this incredible specimen of a man. I like to lay it on thick….like his thighs. Wait, what? *clears throat* I digress.

Yohan is known by many as “The Beast” a nickname that was apparently given to him by the fastest man in the world and his training partner- Usain Bolt. This nickname is said to be representative of the fact that he trains “like a beast” and is extremely dedicated to his craft. According to Blake, he trains “twice as hard as anybody else” in his pursuit of becoming the fastest man in the world. He became the youngest 100m champion at the World Championships in 2011. Some view Blake as somewhat of an overnight sensation saying that he sprung up out of nowhere or he improved too quickly too soon. Those people have clearly not been paying attention as all sports are prone to those who are “seasonal” fans, having people who are of this opinion is not new and, therefore, not unexpected. Still, there is something that those who have been paying attention may have missed.

Yohan has said that he eats 16 ripe bananas a day as part of his diet when training and my word, that sounds like a lot, but I guess when you’re training like a beast, you have to eat like one. No offense is meant to any monkeys or creatures of the monkey family who may be reading this- “beast” is used in a loving way. After all, we ARE related, according to Darwin, so let’s just consider this a joke amongst family members. Sheesh, so sensitive, uncle monkey J

Getting back on track (see what I did there?), I am writing this to finally spill the secret to Yohan’s success- apart from his natural talent, his drive and his love of potassium. Yohan Blake is…..wait for it……are you waiting? I hope you are…..drumroll, please…..*waits for drumroll*……a Super Saiyan. Many have found his signature pose to be confusing, disturbing or downright dumb (not me, Yohan) but what they fail to realize is that it is in fact homage to his race of fellow Super Saiyans? Rather than have his hair and eyes change colour and freak small children and normal human beings out every time we watch him race, Yohan has done a trade-off with the Super Saiyan gods and has instead harnessed his transformation powers into his fingernails. Bear this in mind the next time you criticize the young man’s pose. Is this an unfair advantage? Of course not! He can’t help that he comes from a powerful race of people and you thinking it’s unfair is racist. Fix that. Hmmph.

For those of you who are not yet convinced and need proof, just see the pics below.

P.S. Save the monkeys J    

Yohan Blake

Yohan Blake

Gogeta Super Saiyan 4

Yohan Blake

Broly Super Saiyan 4

I rest my case.

Disclaimer: All pictures were taken from the internet (Google images, to be precise and I have no clue about Super Saiyans and their levels but I'd put Yohan at about a level 3. He doesn't show enough chest cleavage for level 4).

Friday, 31 August 2012

Laziness is a disease. I need a cure

I enrolled myself in a sewing course. Everyone should learn a trade, they say. You’ll benefit from having a skill, they say. Make yourself more marketable, they say. THEY should shut up sometimes. I decided to take a sewing course because I want to be able to make my own clothes if I feel like and I have often felt the desire to make my own clothes so I finally found the time in my schedule (with me being a resident of two countries and whatnot) and the money and I headed over to HEART and did a short course in Basic Garment Construction. Point to note: the course isn’t over yet but it’s past the midway mark.

Oh, how I wish I had waited and how I wish someone had talked me out of this (if it was even possible). I mean, I could have learned how to sew informally like my grandmother did and like so many other people I know. It would have been cheaper and I could set the pace according to my liking. A short course is a long course cut in half- the same amount of work but with less time to do it. Why didn’t this raise a flag to Nas? Clearly because she didn’t know any of this BEFORE she signed up. Who researches these things in-depth? Crazy people with too much time on their hands, that’s who. Every week I feel overwhelmed and I think about why I’d be better served to postpone learning to sew. But then I think about the fact that I paid my money already and that it’s my own fault that I am overwhelmed and I drag my ass to class and try to remember why I signed up in the first place.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Let's get personal

My laptop charger felt it time to go into early retirement. I discovered this at the best moment- when the “battery power is 10%” notification popped up. I quietly shut down the laptop and stared for a moment and then complained to Mr. Man who graciously tried to see if any life was left. There was none. I was super bummed. Just a couple days earlier my Blackberry decided it needed a break from active working life so I had comforted myself with the fact that I still had my laptop. Actually, taking some time off of BBM was quite appealing to me, threats from friends aside. I initially had budgetary concerns that influenced my decision to take a small break and then I started thinking I should extend my leave and sell my phone. My phone made the next move by going “Ha! I’ll show you! I’ll leave you before you can dump me”. Who knew phones could be so spiteful?

So here I was, lost in the world. Frustrated because I am one of those people that believe that things should work for the purpose(s) for which they were created or be removed from my presence (sometimes violently. J I kid about that part but I do think it). I much prefer when they do the former. Mr. Man said this is good for me ‘cause I’d get back to--- I honestly cannot remember what positive thing he said would come out of this. I must have repressed it due to trauma.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Pageant At A Strip Club

So I went to pageant (for strippers) at a strip club

These are the moments that make my time in BIM so memorable.
You haven’t really experienced one of life’s greatest situational ironies until you have attended a stripper pageant. There is nothing like a stripper donning an elegant (by some standards) evening gown and walking onstage to Celine Dion’s “I’m Your Lady” or Rihanna's California King Bed.

This was something I wish I could have gotten pictures or even video of so I could share with you all but recording of any of the night’s events was strictly prohibited. While being able to say I was ejected from a strip club would have also been a great story to tell, I decided to adhere to the rules.

They had 3 segments- stripper wear, lingerie and evening gowns.

These ladies took the entire show seriously. I could smell the scent of broken dreams and desperate clinging to a semblance of what could have been in the air. Each of these women had a story- somewhere there life took a turn and they haven’t since been able to get on a different path so they made due with the journey they were now on. But still, they remained hopeful and carried within themselves some quiet dignity that allowed them to get up on that stage and pretend that they were not one notch below “women of the night” but instead one step away from being ambassadors of the entity which would, at the end of the pageant, crown one of the queen. To be honest, the only difference between that pageant and the typical beauty pageant is the known backgrounds of the strippers, the location, the encouraged interaction with the pole and the absence of a question-and-answer portion. I must say that it was very classy pole-dancing- the type that women from all walks of life buy DVDs or attend classes to learn how to do.

During the breaks from each segment the strippers that did not participate in the pageant did their usual form of entertainment. Overall, there wasn’t much to be fascinated by except the music that they chose to dance to. Maybe they were disappointed about not being a part of the pageant. They may have felt that the crowd was not really there for them that night. All the same, I could have done without the seemingly pregnant stripper though. I was uncomfortable and so were those I came with. Not simply because she was pregnant but because it seemed like she was due and I really could not imagine the trauma that would take over everyone if her water broke. I also felt really bad because no one tipped her, not even her fellow strippers and I had seen from previous sets of other strippers that it was commonplace for the girls to encourage the audience to start tipping by tipping each other.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

S.O.S: Stuck Overseas Studying Jeffrey H

Age: 24

Where you study: Barbados

Major: Law

What’s the biggest culture shock or some of the biggest culture shocks between where you study and where you’re from? The people, the country, the school etc..:
I visited Barbados a few years before actually studying there so there was little to “shock” me.  The country still felt fairly orderly and time seemed to move at a leisurely pace. Back home things seem a bit chaotic on the roads and the day’s pace is somewhat frenetic.
I was already exposed to the unique Bajan dialect as well so I this time round I was prepared to listen keenly and have my ‘could you please slow down’ line at the tip of my tongue.

One noticeable experience this time round however was using the ZRs (mini-bus) for travel. The drivers have the same scant  regard for the road code as their equivalents in Jamaica. So too the conductors; there’s hardly ever an extra person who can’t fit into the vehicle. Of note as well is the fact that Jamaican music (whether dancehall or reggae, but mostly dancehall) is always the genre of choice on these buses. I once boarded a ZR and heard a series of Rihanna songs playing (instead of the good ole dancehall I was accustomed to). I was shocked and confused.

How well did you adjust to any change(s)?
As I indicated in my previous answer, there wasn’t much to get accustomed to and despite the differences the cultural make-up of the place wasn’t vastly different from my experience back home. One member of the current Cave Hill guild once told me that we came off the same slave ships so we’re all brothers and sisters. The way we go about life seems to confirm that belief.
In respect of the dialect, I can understand Bajan when spoken at a moderate pace. Anything beyond that results in an automatic state of smiling and nodding.

What is/are the best part(s) about studying where you do?
I did a degree at the Mona campus where there is precious little in terms of diversity of nationalities. My co-curricular involvement meant that I did know a sampling of individuals across the region but that can’t hold a candle to what Cave Hill has to offer. On any given day various accents will compete for your ear’s attention. It’s been fun trying to mimic each of them and learning the wonderful phrases used to describe food, aspects of man/woman relationships etc. 

I’ve long been a supporter of the regional integration movement. That, along with my general interest in politics, means that I gravitate towards such discussions when they occur.  What those encounters have confirmed is that we do share a common set of problems in the region and the students I expect will one day be in leadership positions seem to appreciate the folly in not moving things forward on the integration front. That gives me hope and hope is a good feeling.
Also, Cave Hill is known for having a cricket field at a prominent spot near the entrance to the campus. While at times the field seems like the best kept facility at the school (instead of say student facilities), it’s always nice seeing an Australian team playing a practice match in the morning and spending a late afternoon watching a some limited over cricket.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

It's Been A While. Missed me?

It’s been a while, I know. My sincerest apologies. I’ll blame exam stress, jet lag and the heat. Yep, those three cover the gap since my last blog. I honestly have no idea where to start. I tried going through my pictures to determine what experiences to write on. Looking through them told me so much- it does not get easier each time I leave home; I had waaay more fun in Barbados this time around; I have a lot of material to blackmail future lawyers and I take far too many pictures of myself. Ha! Like that last one is even possible. I have topics I want to tackle based on my time in BIM and I will slowly but surely get to them. One thing that I took away from last semester was that opening my mind (and, reluctantly, my heart) to Barbados has influenced how I view my own homeland and it has inspired me in ways that I did not expect.

If I was at home, I, no doubt, would not have had many of the cultural experiences that I did but that’s expected. What I did not anticipate was the motivation that being away would trigger in me. I found myself more and more thinking of all the things I could be doing if I was home where it would be easier. I had ideas (I’m an idea girl) but I hardly put most of them into motion. I had unknowingly become complacent because I was in my comfort zone at home. Knowing that I had to be in Barbados lit a fire underneath me and the newfound sense of urgency pushed me to take the steps needed to turn my ideas into reality. Many of them are still works in progress but that is due in large part to the fact that I was away. However, because I was away, I am further along in terms of actual progress than I would have been had I just been home this past year. For that, I am truly grateful.

I do believe that things happen for a reason and that some reasons are clear instantly while some are revealed later on. I figure each time the latter happens, it’s a test of my patience. Clearly, I need many pop quizzes on patience. J Bear with me as I get back into the groove of writing. I’ll try and spice it up with pictures but I will have a hard time choosing from the hundreds (maybe thousands). I should really delete some or get an external hard drive. Aaaaand I am going to wrap this up now.

Along with my new attitude came my new hairstyle. I shaved the sides of my head off. I went to a barber and had it done. I was going to Barbados with more spunk than I left. I felt like a bad-ass, to be honest. I was given earrings with spikes on the ends for my birthday when I went home on break. They added to why I felt like a rock star. That rock star feeling stayed with me until my hair grew out (getting your hair done in Barbados is expensive- like everything else there) and actually had only faded the day I actually had to leave home. Even looking at the pictures I took still give me that empty yet gnawing feeling in my gut that I was a girl going to a foreign place and leaving behind so much of myself with my loved ones. Le sigh. Most of my classmates were so excited to leave their home and some who were in the Mona (Jamaica) program wanted to go to Barbados. People be crazy! I kid….kind of. Anyway, take a look at some pictures ‘til I holla at wunna next.

You'll see more of the style in later posts. Loved it so much I  did it again when I returned to JA

The top earring is facing the wrong way but you get the idea
This should give you a better idea

The second I can see this view, my heart is crumbling.

It feels like the loneliest walk I'll ever take traveling  down this passage

No turning back now

I miss you already, JA

See you soon but not soon enough

S.O.S: Stuck Overseas Studying- Peter M

Age : 21

Where you study: UWI Mona

Major: Law

What’s the biggest culture shock or some of the biggest culture shocks between where you study and where you’re from? The people, the country, the school etc..:  The general interaction in Jamaica is louder and more aggressive than back home in St. Vincent.

How well did you adjust to any change(s)? : …Still adjusting, but pretty well so far

What is/are the best part(s) about studying where you do? : Exposure to new people

What is/are the worst part(s)?: Inconvenient to travel back home frequently

How’s the food? (if not mentioned before): Excellent. Love Jamaican cuisine. Could have had more eastern cbean food readily available but I manage.

What do you miss most about home when you are abroad studying, if anything?:  Ease of travel anywhere I felt like at minimal cost

Would you migrate there at a later point in your life? Why or why not?: Still up in the air, not sure. Depends on economic climate and security

Any other interesting things you’d like to mention?: Jamaican girls are quite attractive

Saturday, 17 March 2012

S.O.S: Stuck Overseas Studying- Cara

Stuck Overseas Studying is a series of posts that I'm introducing to Jabajanas. I love that the acronym is S.O.S and I did it intentionally because often times when you are abroad for school, you feel like you are in distress and in need of being rescued. The series is going to be about the studying-away-from-home experience of various people who are either Jamaicans studying abroad like myself or non-Jamaicans studying in Jamaica. I first felt inspired to do this when talking to an old friend of mine from primary school. She was my best friend in third grade. She struck up a convo with me over the Christmas and we started talking about our lives and while she started sharing hers with me, I told her to stop answering me in Facebook chat and asked if she would be so kind as to answer formal questions that I would send her via e-mail for a blog post. Once you become a blogger, you start seeing every experience as worthy of documentation and every adventure, conversation and mishap is a potential blog post. Without further ado, I now invite you to experience Cara's journey.

Age: 24
Where you study: University of Medical Sciences, Faculty 2, Santiago de Cuba
Major: Medicine                                                                            

What’s the biggest culture shock or some of the biggest culture shocks between where you study and where you’re from? The people, the country, the school etc..: I would have to say that the biggest  culture shocks for me was going to the bathroom with my toilet seat and lysol in hand and after "cleaning up" , having to put the tissue in the basket beside the toilet instead of flushing it plus having to use newspaper instead of toilet paper when I go to my cuban friend's house and forget to take tissue and not being able to use the internet freely (thats if ur lucky to have access at all) and going to the supermarket and having to carry the things u bought in your hands (bags r not provided).

How well did you adjust to any change(s)?:   Well the adjusting period was a 2 part process because the first year we were placed in a school for latin americans in havana then the 2 year we were moved to santiago de cuba to a school filled with cubans, africans and haitians (no cuban students were at the school in havana) At first i adjusted rather poorly....with lots of time spent asking myself why i chose to do it. however as the months went by i began getting the jist of most conversations...though alot of my responses were Si, Si, Si while nodding my head. it was easier to adjust to santiago because not only is the atmosphere more caribbean, but there were quite a few jamaicans and other caribbean nationalities there. plus we had more freedom in santiago...with the boys now being able to be on the girls' dorm and vice versa. 

What is/are the best part(s) about studying where you do?: Being able to learn another language, meeting people from all walks of life....learning about different cultures...about countries i've never heard of prior to going to cuba (eg. seychelles, djibouti, nauru).....being able to submerge myself in the world of performing arts ( opera, ballet, symphony, art museums) with a ticket for each show being about $ 30JMN....TOTALLY FREE health care. Studying in cuba revealed to me the true difference between the things that i really need and the things i think i has taught me how to be frugal and appreciate the simpler things in life....

What is/are the worst part(s)?: Being in cuba sometimes feel like being on a different planet. At times its so difficult to communicate with family and friends back home.  ive lost contact with alot of people because of this difficulty in communication. we do get roaming with digicel however, the cost for a text from my cel phone to jamaica is $84. recently the bb service was made available.....but its cost effective at all. you have to sign up for which plan u want at the same cost however, everytime you receive a ping, or one of your contacts changes their status or u change your status ...u pay. if u aint got any credit then u just simply wont receive any messages. being in cuba means most times having to bite your tongue in fury at some irrational rules that the cubans set and their rigdness and sometimes inability to rationalize. it is really hard to leave cuba to visit jamaica. travelling to jamaica requires a "salida" which is like a temporary visa that can anly be obtained in december and july providing you didnt fail any course or in the event that a family member dies in which u have to show proof of death. 

How’s the food? (if not mentioned before): for the most part the food is horrible. i cook most days but when i do eat out i normally dont eat much. they cook their rice with meat in it (pork or chicken), not nicely cut and cooked meat. and the rice is so wet. the seasoning of choice for the cubans is salt and nothing more. which is a far cry from the jamaican way. 

What do you miss most about home when you are abroad studying, if anything?: nice bathroom, being able to flush tissue down the toilet, patty, pastry, internet access, paying $3 for text, being able to use my cel phone as more than an alarm.... but most of all family and friends.

Would you migrate there at a later point in your life? Why or why not?: No. though it's cheaper to live in cuba than jamaica and more peaceful i wouodn't live there permanently. the salary of a doctor is chicken feed plus there are alot of restrictions i would be subjected to though i'm not a native.

Any other interesting things you’d like to mention?: cubans love baseball, its common place to see cross dressing men on the streets, cuba's society is firmly trenched in its history. if your not a diplomat then u dont have access to cable tv unless u happen to go into one of the hotels. cuban television doesnt have commercials. in santiago the most common form of transport is a "camion" which is a truck. cuba has 2 different currency...pesos moneda nacional "MN"(used at the markets, at the bodegas, and for transportation) and pesos convertibles "CUC" ( used in the stores, at the airport and in the hotels).. wit 24MN=1CUC. the cubans love to take advantage of the multiple currency on unsuspecting tourists. oh and i met my future husband there. with each year im in english deteriorates a bit. and can u believe the cubans make us do an english course?! guess who are the stupid is that when we know more english then them...cubans are big on promoting different cultures

Pictures documenting some of Cara’s memories and adventures from Cuba will be in my next post.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Law of Style. Jamaica Blog Awards feature in Jamaica Observer

This post is courtesy of an article in the Jamaica Observer under the Lifestyle section titled "Saturday Fashion - January 21". The Jamaica Blog Awards took place on January 15, 2012 and I attended along with some other friends and fellow bloggers. In this article, you will see my girls Karen (Mz_KARizma), Jo (MszRockstar) and Tanhoi (Tanhoi_S).
I have to say congratulations to ALL the winners especially Jo Will, Ricardo Brooks and Tonian Lindo. 
Now to the Observer article. Photos were by Marlon Reid, according to the Observer.
"Fashionable threads were spotted at this past Sunday's Jamaica Blog Awards at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel and the '40ified' party hosted last Saturday in Parrotee, Black River. Here are your Saturday Fashion team's fave style picks.
(L-R) Nastassian Brandon, Kacian Freeman, Shelly-Ann Rerrie and Karen Lloyd

(L-R) Tashoi Sinclair, Jody-Ann Williams, Shameka Saunders and singer Aria

The Law of Style
Nastassian Brandon, law student at the University of the West Indies' Cave Hill campus, wore an elegantly simple gold-and-burgundy minidress, which caught our photog's lens.
Beach Beauty
Mandeville-based beauty parlour owner, Kacian Freeman partied in St Bess at the '40ified' party in beach-ready shorts and an ethnic print cover-up.
Shelly's Signature Moment
Shelly-Ann Rerrie, director of Signature Styles, earned style points for her on-trend tangerine-hued jumpsuit.
Hints of Red
University of the West Indies student Karen Lloyd used pops of red — a bow in the hair and the colour in her striped shoes — to accentuate her black strapless cocktail dress.
Simple Does It
Understated simplicity worked well for Accent Marketing Sales Associate Tashoi Sinclair, in a basic black top with shimmering gray pants, which she accessorised with a black necklace and statement earrings.
Retro Chic
Jody-Ann Williams — winner of two awards, Best Entertainment and Best Music Blogs for her Real Talk with Msz Rock Star blog — was retro chic in a tiered, white lace dress.
Sunday Casual
Dressed in the perfect Sunday casuals, cute-as-a-button medical student Shameka Saunders paired her floral print dress with an off-white belted jacket.
Hitting The Right (Fashion) Notes
Although guest singer Aria's performance at the Jamaica Blog Awards did not exactly bowl us over, her snazzy trenchcoat ensemble, which she dressed up with pearls and short shorts, certainly did!

Read more:"

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bajan to English to Jamaican Dictionary (Some of what I’ve learned so far)

I thought I'd share some of the fun things I've learned in terms of language while I've been in BIM and try to break down some language barriers while I'm at it. Bear in mine that I am not a linguist. I am merely a learning Caribbean girl.

1) Sain- Something- Sumn/ Sup’n
Sentence examples:      (Bajan) Do sain fa me
                                     (English) Do something for me
                                     (Jamaican) Do sumn fi mi

2) Malicious- Curious/Inquisitive- Faas
Sentence examples:      (Bajan) Wendy Williams does be too malicious when it comes to celebs
                                     (English) Wendy Williams is too inquisitive when it comes to celebs
                                     (Jamaican) Wendy Williams too faas when it come to di celebrity dem

3) Gine- Going- A go/ Gone a (in relation to a person going somewhere)
Sentence examples:      (Bajan) I gine campus mart
                                     (English) I am going to to the campus mart
                                     (Jamaican) Mi a go di campus mart or Mi gone a campus mart

4) Wunna- You (Plural)- Unu
Sentence examples:      (Bajan) Wunna does really make me sick
                                     (English) You (all) make me sick
                                     (Jamaican) Unu sick mi
On a related note:
Bajans also say “yuh all” while Trinis (Trinidadians) say “all yuh” (sometimes sounds like ‘all ya’).

At first, I was thrown by how some things were said by Barbadians or Trinidadians but when I put them next to things said by Jamaicans or those of another Caribbean country, it somehow makes sense in terms of how words and phrases evolved. Eg: Wunna makes sense when I look at how similar it sounds to unu- it sort of sounds like “unu” with a ‘w’ at the front. Another example is “all yuh”. It’s just an inverted way of saying “you all”/”yuh all”.

5) Hey/Hay- Here- Ya so
Sentence examples:      (Bajan) What gine on hey?
                                     (English) What is going on here?
                                     (Jamaican) Whaa gwaan ya so?/What a gwaan ya so?

Note:  It may seem confusing to those of us not versed in Jamaican patois but “go” and “going” is conjugated (in Jamaican patois) depending on the subject being referred to as well as the preposition it follows as well as the tense. It’s just something I’ve learned to speak much better than I’ve learned to explain. Maybe when we become standardized, it’ll be easier. ;)