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Monday, March 10, 2008

JAMAICA GLEANER: Living "a foreign" no bed of roses

It was a letter to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner. It was not only too sweet to let pass, but also put quite a bit of perspective on a topic or two that I've been pondering.

Readers must note that Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago compare favourably on several levels. As such, I've taken the liberty of replacing "Jamaica" and "Jamaicans" in the letter's text with Trinbagonian equivalents to give a different reading. No disrespect to Tobago is intended but the text unfortunately seems to read more smoothly with "Trinidad" and "Trinis". That though is for a whole other topic of discussion.

All the same, change the name and the sentiment remains. And I'm sure that many a foreign-based Trinbagonian will agree with the Jamaican writer that life at home is indeed sweet.
The Editor: Sir,

Growing up in [Trinidad], I often heard the phrase uttered by many that 'foreign is no bed of roses' I used to get angry at individuals who, in my mind were only saying this to discourage other [Trinis] from going to America, giving them the impression that life is difficult there. Up to this point where I am now living and working in the United States (US), no one could tell me that life was not much better here than in [Trinidad]. In fact, living in America was my dream and no doubt the dream of countless [Trinis] who still hold on to the notion that America is still the best place to live.

I will not for a minute deny that there may be more and better opportunities for young people here. However, people must realise that opportunities must be sought wherever you are. It will not just come and fall in your lap. I must also admit and make it clear that you have to work twice even three times as hard here as you would the same job in [Trinidad]. "[Ah] neva work so hard [in mih] life!"

A different experience

Living in the US is a completely different experience. Would I come back to [Trinidad] to live now? Absolutely! I now realise that indeed foreign is no bed of roses as I used to hear others say and do I agree! For me and I guess for many [Trinis] living here, I feel like I am not living, merely existing. Life is or can be very monotonous and downright depressing. Especially if you live in those states affected by winter. Frankly, this place is not fit for human habitation in winter. Try spending a day in your freezer and you will know what I am talking about!

I guess what I am trying to say is that I would rather be in [Trinidad], with all the crime and violence, with all the so-called poverty and everything else that others seems to be running from. There is no place like home. America is not for everyone. If I knew that I would still be extremely homesick after eight years living in the States, that I would feel so incomplete and yearning to return home every given minute, I probably would have made a different decision about relocating. I would have stayed in my country and made the best of my life and my situation. I would have been more grateful being a [Trini] and living in [Trinidad]. I wouldn't be so critical of everything, and eager to leave.

A blessed country

[Trinidad] is, as we say, a blessed country. There is this sense of freedom and happiness that you experience there. I am not saying that there isn't a lot of problems and that things are not very difficult for many [Trinis]. What I am saying is that it is not much different here in the US, Life is just as difficult for many, especially if you do not have a skill or a career. You have to fight and work just as hard to make ends meet and to be successful.

My advice to the average [Trini] that still thinks that America is the answer to their problems is that you are in for a rude awakening. Work hard and build your country. Try to make a difference in whatever way you can. You have it good and you don't even know it. [Trinidad] is still the best place on Earth to live. Ask any [Trini] living a foreign.

I am, etc.,

[Name removed. If yuh fas' an' want to see, go an' check de Gleaner]

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