This is a paper I wrote during my time at Spelman College.
Over the years, my view on life has changed drastically. I have always been blessed and fortunate to travel and experience various cultures around the world. This was my first abroad experience with Spelman College, and it was very interesting. I had no expectations going to Trinidad and Tobago. I had been to numerous other Caribbean islands and assumed that this would be similar, and in some ways it was. My reason for going was mainly because I had never been to Trinidad and Tobago and I thought it would be a fascinating experience. I am intrigued by the various cultures within the African Diaspora. I thought that this opportunity would give me a better in depth manner to experience and learn about a culture within the African Diaspora from a different lens point. I plan to develop a career conducting genealogical research and writing about various cultures and issues. The lifestyles in Trinidad and Tobago really captured my interest.
The lifestyles in Trinidad and Tobago are similar to those in the United States and other islands of the Caribbean. The eating habits are like those in the United States, which is why, just like in the United States, the people in Trinidad and Tobago suffer from diabetes. The lack of knowledge also contributes to the elevated numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes is not the only similarity that Trinidad and Tobago share with the United States. Women’s issues and topics surrounding rape culture, domestic violence, and so on are very current and important issues occurring. This reminded me of how rape culture is becoming more problematic in the United States; however there are more laws and regulations enforced in the United States to protect women’s rights. As for the LGBTQ community, there is far greater acceptance for them in the United States than in Trinidad and Tobago. In Trinidad and Tobago it is a sexual criminal offense to be anything other than a heterosexual person.
While the similarities were there, the way the issues were handled were different. Trinidad and Tobago seem to be more reserved than the United States. Issues in the United States are more in your face and talked about. People want change and don’t fear the government. At the same time, the United States government caters to the people of the United States. I feel like people in Trinidad and Tobago fear their leader to an extent and that some issues are purposely kept quiet because the government does not want to address them. The issue with women’s rights seems to be a big problem, yet not enough support is being offered. The fact that the laws are still in place to criminalize people who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community, says a lot about the prejudices that are still being promoted throughout the country.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the multicultural aspects of Trinidad and Tobago. The islands are populated with various cultures, and many of the cultures are integrated into society. All people celebrate the various cultural holidays even if they do not belong to that particular religion or ethnic group. I like that. I wish the United States was more united in this way. I actually want live my own personal life in a more multicultural facet. Issues of racism or prejudice don’t seem to be concentrated against skin complexion or ethnicity as it is in the United States. I like that. Sometimes, I wish that the United States didn’t focus so largely on race and ethnicity, but instead on what the person is on the inside.
While my overall feelings on my trip to Trinidad and Tobago fluctuate, I am happy I went. I learned a lot, and even more importantly, I felt inspired. I am a writer and being in Trinidad and Tobago and hearing the issues from the women of the country and the people speak at the Gender Institute, inspired me to want to write a fictional book that addressed some of the issue in Trinidad and Tobago. At the same time, traveling to the islands, made me realize that I would like to consider applying to be a Fulbright Scholar. I enjoy conducting study/research abroad and focusing on genealogy. My minor in the African Diaspora helped open my mind up to all the possibilities out there.
Since I have graduated, officially, from Spelman College, I plan to pursue a career in genealogical research. Traveling is a passion of mine along with writing and I know now, that I would like to travel conducting genealogical research for people, but also write about historical fiction and issues relevant to the global world.