As I write this, Hurricane Maria is carving up the Caribbean. Now a Category 5 hurricane, she is in line to endanger islands still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. Looking at the current weather map, I see Hurricane Maria has bypassed Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief for Julian, the subject of this post. When I contacted him earlier this year, Julian was preparing for the tropical storm Brett. It was the first time he had gone to the store to stock up on supplies for an upcoming storm.
"We have not gotten a strong storm for over 40 years," he told me.
I hope his good luck holds.
How I Met Julian
For Mothers Day this year, I was in Denver with my son, Graham, and daughter, Kate. One night, at the home of friends, I was introduced to Emily, who had recently returned from a stay in Trinidad/Tobago working for Habitat for Humanity. When I told her about this blog, she offered to connect me to Julian. Thank you, Emily. Thank you, Julian.
Thanks also to Shea and Becca for that peaceful evening in your magical backyard and charming home.
And to my kids. More time with you is all I ever want.
Julian is a citizen of Tunapuna, Trinidad & Tobago West Indies. Originally born in Guyana, he has lived in Trinidad & Tobago since he was 2 years old.
Julian works for Habitat for Humanity Trinidad & Tobago where he manages and coordinates local and international volunteers for the non-profit. He is also learning to trade in the forex market. He and his wife, Nikisha, have a young son named Joshua.
Talking to Julian
I see a spread of the southern part of Trinidad, spotted in greenery with clear skies above.
If I came to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?
I do not cook. My wife would cook a roast with a wonderful sauce.
What myth or stereotype about your islands and their culture do you dislike? Why?
I dislike the myth that the other islands in the Caribbean region think Trinidadians are rich and full of themselves.
What brings you joy?
Spending time with family and purposefully working towards leaving a legacy through my goals.
What is your greatest fear?
Being left behind after the rapture.
If I came to your village/city, where is the first place you would take me? Why?
My first place would be to visit Exodus steel orchestra/panyard. This is the band that is supported by the community of Tunapuna that plays the local instrument (pan).
What gives you hope?
Believing in God that all things are possible to those that believe.
What is your opinion of the United States? Chicago?
The United States is a great country, however, I do not sense a culture as the different islands of the Caribbean. Each state seems the same, the only difference may be the people’s accent.
I love the volunteer services that are implemented in schools and other groups/societies.
Sorry, I don’t know much about Chicago.
What is your favorite time of year in Trinidad/Tobaggo?
What does your country do really well? What do you wish your country did better?
We are great in singing calypso and soca music and also playing steel pan.
I wish my country would have better customer service at some service companies.
What is something few Americans know about Trinidad/Tobago?
They do not know that we qualified for the Soccer World Cup in 2005.
What would you like to say to the American people?
I would ask Americans to explore the Caribbean when they can whether it be Trinidad & Tobago or another island. I would also love Americans to have love for each other and help someone in need whenever you can.
Is there a song that best captures the essence of your culture?
Yes. “Ah Trini” by soca artiste Benjai
In one word, describe Trinidad/Tobago.
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When I'm not interviewing people for Talking to the World, I'm working on my novel. You can read more about that process on 3 Writers in a Cafe Every Friday, another ChicagoNow blog written by me and two other novelists.
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