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globalFEST On the Road: Creole Carnival

Imagine my surprise when I saw that a Jamaican entertainer I knew was coming to my little college. I wanted to ask him the question so many have asked me: How did you find your way here?

My college was one of the stops of the globalFEST tour. The tour featured performances from Brushy One Sting, a Jamaican man who plays a guitar with one string; Casuarina, a samba group and Emeline Michel, “The reigning queen of Haitian song”. I knew I had to be at the show just to give Brushy my support. However, I enjoyed it even more than I had anticipated.

The show opened with Emeline and even though all her songs were in the Haitian French Creole, her soulful voice conveyed her powerful messages in a way words never could. It is for this reason that I say music is a universal language.

After Emeline and her band left the stage, a small, slender man in a hat took their place. He had no backing band, just one guitar with one string. Brushy One String didn’t need much more. He captivated the audience with his powerful voice and equally powerful messages of love and unity.

Casaurina was last to take the stage. They played and sang traditional Brazilian songs and once again language did not create a barrier. Their music conveyed happiness and sadness effectively. Once they were through with their set, Emeline and Brushy returned to the stage for the grand finale. Together, they sang Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up with a Samba twist. They brought everyone to their feet and received thunderous applause for their amazing performance.

#KultureShocked

 

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I’m not interested

I understand that as an international student I need to dive into the culture of my host nation but this is my Junior year and though I believe in trying everything once, somethings are better not repeated. There are just some things that I’m not interested in. Now I sound like a terrible person, so let me explain.

It is hard to picture a house in Jamaica without at least one fruit tree in the back or even front yard. You wake up one morning and you want a mango, no problem, head outside and pick one . If your tree isn’t in season and you are on good enough terms with your neighbour ask for one. Sometimes you won’t even have to ask because your neighbour’s tree might be so full that they’ve just about had it with mangoes and have started gifting you the glorious fruit by the dozen.

This being said, I cannot appreciate the importance placed on going apple picking. Anyways, in the spirit of new experiences I went and tried it. I’ve filed this experience in the section of things you try once. Not to say I didn’t have a good time. I quite enjoyed the drive to the apple farm but as I picked my five apples I got no gratification. It wasn’t all bad though. I learnt that most apple farms have little shops that have apple cider and doughnuts. Fresh doughnuts! Cider and doughnuts is currently my favourite American pastime.  I had what had to be the best doughnut of my life when I went apple picking so maybe in the future, I’ll buy doughnuts and eat them in the car while everyone goes hunting for Granny Smith.

This was one of those things that left me…

#KultureShocked

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Guess Who’s Back!

I’ve been back in Rochester for 3 weeks now but in addition to touring, unpacking and RA training I’ve hardly had time to sleep much less blog :(. Luckily, I made it through my first week of my Junior year. I sat here reflecting, it dawned on my that I have a full plate. Well, that’s a lie, the full magnitude of my responsibilities for this academic year hit me on Monday as I skimmed through the syllabi for the classes I’m taking this year. In addition to taking 15 credits, I will work 6 hours in an on-campus office, I’m the president of a club, I’m a Resident Assistant (RA),  and this will be my first semester working in the Speech Pathology clinic.

After sitting through an entire week of classes, I can safely say I like all my classes… so far. This is not to say they’re all easy A’s, in fact I think these courses will be some of the most difficult that I have encountered in my time here. I welcome the challenge. I have three issues so far though 1) How much sleep will I have to lose to keep my grades up? (because my grades will stay up!)  2) Who the hell invented 8am classes? and 3) Each course requires me to read at least 20 pages a day which isn’t too bad for the most part but there is this one text book that is so dense it had to be written by Lucifer himself. Oh well No one ever said college was a bed of roses I guess.

On the bright side, I love my on campus job, it usually provides me with a little free time to catch up with my course work and when there is work to do, it isn’t too difficult. I am also a shopaholic so cash in the pocket is always a nice thing 🙂 The club I’ll try to run is one I’ve been a part of for 2 years now and hopefully I’ve learnt enough from the past president to be able to pull it off. I’m not too worried though, because I have a great team and a wonderful staff adviser to get me through it.

What I’m the most concerned about this year is being an RA. The workload of being an RA isn’t that difficult but it is a very time consuming responsibility. In addition to completing patrols about once a week, I have to decorate 5 bulletin boards and come up with and execute two programs each month. No Pressure!

I’m not too sure how I feel about working in the clinic just yet. I’m a bit excited to finally be getting some hands on experience on what I might be doing for the rest of my life. Definitely nervous that I may not remedy a child’s speech impediment but instead screw the poor kid up for life and get kicked out of the program… but let’s be positive. I’m gonna rock this!

All in all I’m ready to kick this semester’s but and I promise to take you with me on the journey!

#KultureShocked

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New blogging feature?

Because I’ve been doing such a wonderful job with my other blog features (please note the sarcasm) I’ve decided to add another one… or two.

In the first one I’ll take a proverb, quote, idiom, saying or whatever and give my interpretation and maybe even share a story or two on how it had an impact on me. This will hopefully provide an avenue to share more about my culture,  which is, after all, what KultureShocked is about. I would like to start this today and diligently follow through on the Tuesdays to follow (speaking it into being).

The second feature will be my take on one of the daily posts from the week before. I’m not sure when I’ll start this yet.

Thanks for stopping by.

#KultureShocked

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What You Needed for the Last Two Thursdays but I forgot Cuz I’m a Terrible Person Friday

So I wrote this the Thursday before last Thursday amd just realised it was still in my drafts… sigh.

With work and all the punches life has to throw at us it’s very easy to become a zombie. What you, my lovely and hopefully forgiving readers, needed to know this week… and last week… is it’s important to make time to live. If that means typing at your computer with one eye open even after your tenth cup of coffee at 9am then so be it.
Go out on a weeknight and don’t let The Man tell you otherwise!

Peace and Love,
#KultureShocked

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Feeding of the 5000

Shida and I ready to serve :)

Shida and I ready to serve 🙂

On December 21, 2014 I took part in The Feeding of the 5000 with fellow Bongo Crew members Rashida and Denni. This has definitely been my most meaningful experience to date and I look forward to participating in the years to come. Jordan Bennett’s Feeding of the 5000 is a charity event that aims to provide meals to the homeless and the shut in. The group’s mantra is “Not just filling bellies, but hearts and souls with love.” and by the end of they day I certainly felt the love.

Feeding took place the day after Live from Kingston. I got home at around 2am and had the hardest time falling asleep because the excitement of the day’s activities had left my heart pounding. I dosed off a couple times but I didn’t truly fall asleep until what felt like minutes before my alarm went off. I hit the snooze button repeatedly until about 6.55 when I could no longer put off getting up. I showered, ate breakfast, got dressed and was out the door to meet Rashida at the bus stop at around 8.15. The goal was to reach 2B Grafton Road by 9am and we got there at 9:05.

Why were we early? This is Jamaica so, to be early one should arrive 2 hours late. Lesson learnt. My sleep deprived bum could have gotten at least an hour more of sleep. Anywho we were already early so Rashida and I tried to make ourselves useful. We posed for pictures, helped fold donated clothes and taped boxes while we waited for the buses that would transport us to the various locations to arrive. It was a long wait. For some reason or another the buses were ridiculously delayed. In the meantime buses arrived from the Golden Age Home delivering elderly citizens.

It was our task as volunteers to help the elderly men and women off of the buses, make them feel welcomed and serve them food. Simple right? Not really, well not at first at least. Starting a conversation with someone new is always a difficult task and if you throw in the generation gap it could go sour really quickly.Although it was awkward at first I was able to dive into an interesting conversation about cricket with one gentleman. At the end of the conversation I knew that today would be a life changing experience.

For the next few hours Shida and I pretty much just walked up and down doing odd jobs and hiding from the sun as much as was possible. The buses still hadn’t arrived and we were sleep deprived so we walked down the road to buy bag juices (you’re never too old to enjoy a bag of sugar water and red dye #4). On our way back we mingled with some other volunteers to help pass the time. The buses finally came some time after that and we got put into our groups to go to the different areas of Kingston. Then we sat down for another hour or so waiting for it to be our turn to head out. It was at some point during this wait that Meikle and Cespo finally appeared (I guess they got the memo) and we chatted about foolishness to help the time pass.

Eventually Rashida, Meikle myself and three other ladies loaded two boxes filled with food into a van and headed to Papine. We were on a mission. We had to use our judgement to determine who needed our help the most. You would not believe how hard this is to do on a Sunday afternoon. Like there were hardly any homeless people on the road. Meikle joked that they had gone home for Sunday dinner and we were starting to believe him when Rashida spotted a man in a park. Encouraged, we became more vigilant. We scanned the most unlikely of places and our pile of food started to decrease. We eventually came to a stand still so after driving through Papine one more time we expanded our boundary to include Hope Road and New Kingston.

We refused to return to Grafton Road with food. We watched as the pile of food shrunk with each thank you we received. The toothless smiles we received tugged at my heart and I knew that I found a new drug. We spotted one gentleman on Hope Road with a bunch of what we would consider garbage dangling from his neck and waist. To him they probably meant the world and he tied them to himself not to lose them. While conversing with him he said one of the items ( I can’t remember what it was 😥 really need to start making these posts sooner) was for protection from people who would trouble him. My heart melted as he said thank you a hundred times after we gave him a box of food. He pleaded for another and we could not deny him. There were many other heart warming moments like this throughout our drive but this definitely stood out the most.

We returned to 2B Grafton Road with empty boxes but filled hearts. We all exchanged numbers so we could meet up at  future events. We regrouped with Denni and Cespo and mingled with other volunteers before parting ways. It was a day well spent. Although there were some issues with organization, it was certainly worth the wait.

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Nanook!

The second event I attended was Nanook last week Thursday the 18th of December. I honestly don’t really know what exactly Nanook is so I’ll describe it based on what I’ve seen and heard. Apparently is a bi-weekly event. On Tuesdays a DJ plays rootsy music while artists paint the walls of the venue and on Thursdays the DJ plays from 8pm until around 10.30 when a live band takes over.

My friends, Shida and Abbey and I walked into the venue at about 10 pm. We walked through the rustic two story building that was made almost entirely of wood. The ground floor housed what looked like a bar while the second floor was a sort of look out point where guests could view the band. This is at least how it seemed to me as I didn’t spend much time in either locations because my friends and I were instantly drawn to the outdoors. Once there we met up with another of our friends, Bugsie, who happened to be performing that night. We pulled up a seat in front of the stage and waited patiently for the show to begin.

After a while the Jazzy music the DJ was playing started to stir something within me and the overwhelming urge to drum started to take over. It seemed to have the same impact on Shida and as she is definitely the more ballsy of the two of us, she asked Bugsie if she could borrow his drum until the show started. So we sat there improvising on Bugsie’s djembe for the next five or so songs. Eventually members of the band walked onto the stage and started setting up so we returned the drum.

They did mostly covers of songs and musicians were free to come on stage and show their stuff. This is how I met my newest drumming idol, Hector. This talented man walked onto the stage, stole the set with a wicked solo on the djembe then walked off the stage, just like nothing happened. He later returned to play the drum set. He played with such confidence and power it was so magical. Can I keep him? Please?

Anywho my friends and I left before the show ended as it was a weekday and Shida had work the next morning. It was definitely a wonderful experience so if you have time to kill on a Tuesday or Thursday you should definitely swing by Nanook at 20 Burlington Avenue.

More to come but until next time,

#KultureShocked