Friday, December 16, 2011

Child of the World

All week long, I've been talking about the pieces that make up the flawed character you know as Claire Dawn. Today, I'm talking about my multiculturalism.

I'm a child of the world.

Rude Boy - Rihanna (Barbados, also went to school with my little brother) 

I was born and raised in Barbados. That's where I lived for the first 18 years of my life. Maybe I don't act like that now, traipsing around the galaxy, but like anything in the formative years, Barbados is a big part of who I am.

Can't Let My Love Go - Allison Hinds (Barbados) and Shaggy (US/Jamaica)

I think the way I do because I am. Even though I'm theoretically a minority, I'd never really felt it, growing up in a majority-black country. I lean towards the kinds of things Bajans tend to lean towards. My diet, the things I say, the music and movies I like, the way I think, all influenced by being Bajan. And I'm proud to be from the itty-bitty rock that's had more than it's share of influence on the world. (Rihanna, rum, grapefruit - the world would be a much different place without us.)

Sak Pasé - Krosfyah

Even though I love my fab-tastic country and wouldn't give it up if you paid me in Twizzlers, I started travelling at a young age. I think I went somewhere at 6 months, but I can't remember where. As a toddler I did New York and Venezuela. And I spent half my childhood in Puerto Rico- Barbados is expensive, Puerto is not. Back when airfare was cheap, Bajans would go over and do their Christmas shopping.I've been to Puerto Rico 5 times. I love going new places and things being different. Also, the fact that I was obsessed with planes didn't hurt. I think I've been to 17 countries.

Où Est la Vraie Vie - Raiponce (Tangled. In English, it's When Will My Life Begin, but I like the French version which asks, Where is the True Life.)

I studied French and Spanish in secondary school. But that's not where the fascination started. I dropped Spanish like a maggot-filled cereal box, after only 2 years. In 3rd form (8th grade), I was failing French. I decided to go with Alliance Francaise to Martinique in an attempt to get a passing grade. I fell in love with Martinique.

Joe le taxi - Vanessa Paradis (I loved Johnny Depp's partner before he did. She was 14 in this vid. Also I heard this on my first trip to Martinique and it stuck in my head, becoming one of the things that made me love France.)

It suddenly occured to me that French was more than a thing that my drony old teacher went on about. It was a life and a culture. It had people and music.I've never failed a French or Spanish language test since. (French and Spanish Lit classes are another ballgame.) I've been to Martinique 3 times, and it's firmly cemented as "my French heart".

Gitana- Shakira

I regretted dropping Spanish almost immediately. What's done is done. You can't change it. But you can change the future. After I returned from my two years in the US, I wanted to enter university at the University of the West Indies (UWI). I'd been studying Management in the U.S. Three of my close friends were in the Management programme at UWI, and I'd heard them complain about group projects. Invariably, every group always had one person who never got it, or one person who argued with everybody, or that one chick who could never come to group meetings because she was having her hair/nails/armpits did.

Ven Conmigo - Christina Aguilera.

So I decided I didn't want to do Management. The other two subjects I did at A Levels (think Harry Potter's NEWTs) were Computing and French. I'd barely made it out of Computing with my life the first time around. There was no way I was going near it again. French then. But nobody in the Caribbean does a first degree in just one language. To increase the possibilty of finding a job they combine it with a minor in Management (not happening) or double major with Spanish. Problem was, I didn't have a Spanish qual. Easily fixed. I applied to do CXC Spanish (think Harry Potter's OWLs) got a 1 (highest grade) and went to UWI as a French and Spanish student.

Juanes - Mala Gente

Best. Decision. Ever. Spanish at UWI took me to another of my favourite countries, Colombia. It's an awesome country, but it gets a bad wrap. By this time, I realised that I loved traipsing around, jumping over international borders like they were cracks in the pavement. And it was also apparent that languages come to me fairly easy. I learned Spanish basics in school, but for the next 7 years, I learned all my Spanish on TNT.

E Raffaella È Mia - Tiziano Ferro (Italy)

I wanted someone to pay me to go somewhere, because I couldn`t afford to just faff off to another country for as long as they`d let me stay. I made this comment one day and discovered the JET programme, a way to teach in Japan. And that is how I started learning Italian. Confused? Me, too. It was one of my crazier moments. I attempted to sign up for a Japanese course and when there was none, I randomly signed up for Italian. Some day, I will get to Italy. Even if I have to swim there.

Tonari no Totori (from the Ghibli movie)

Japan was a fluke for me. I want to travel, I said, and an application to come here fell into my hands. Thank God it did. I love this place. I love my town. I had the best day at school- the 6th grade sang me Happy Birthday, and I had Birthday Lunch with the 3rd grade and then the whole staff ate cake in our honour (another teacher's bday is today).

Hanamizuki - Hitoto Yo (This song was written for September 11. A couple was in a tower and when the guy figured out he wouldn't live, he said to the woman go on and live and love. Don't mourn forever.)

If countries were men, I'd be Elizabeth Taylor. My heart is torn in so many different directions. I love so many places in so many different ways. I can't even imagine staying in one country for the rest of my life. Maybe at 40 it will seem more feasible.

Somos el mundo.

Right now, I'm a child of the world.


E.J. Wesley said...

Beautiful post, Claire. I think more and more people are being exposed to multiculturalism (even if they don't travel, though it lacks the immersion) as the world is simply getting smaller. More people, cheaper travel and the Internet have all added to it.

The real challenge is learning to embrace that exposure. Understand how it fits into "YOU", if you get me. As an artist, the challenge then becomes channelling all that back out into something that resonates and is clearly defined.

You've done a lot of that in this one post. :)


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh, this was such fun to watch all these amazing videos and read your words. I envy your ability to speak mutiple languages. I am limited to picking up phrases, but I do love to travel. and everyone should dance to steel drums sometime. :D

Liza said...

What a great post! So glad you could take us on your journey!

Shari Green said...

Very cool how many languages you know, and how much you've travelled! I haven't travelled at all, aside from all over my own country (Canada). Maybe someday.... :)

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