On May 26, 2016 Guyana celebrated 50 years of independence from British rule. Dubbed the Golden Jubilee, this independence day was much anticipated by Guyanese both in country (though given some of the coverage leading up to the big day maybe not that much anticipation) and throughout the diaspora. For months the big question among Guyanese here in New York was, “You going home for Jubilee?” I was happy to be able to answer yes to all who asked.
Well, to be totally accurate, the question folks posed to me wasn’t “Are you going home?” but “You going to Guyana?” Cuz clearly Guyana is not truly ‘home’ for me. I’m a born and bred American of Guyanese heritage. An important distinction. Whenever I talk about visiting Guyana the response, though positive, is almost always given with a slightly confused tilt of the head. Like they can’t quite grasp why I, a very American chick, would so regularly choose to visit a country I seem to have few emotional/cultural ties to.
This feeling was hilariously summed up by a phone call I received on the 2nd day of my visit. After chatting for a few minutes my friend asked,
“Why are you there anyway? You are always in Guyana! You are the most Non-Guyanese yet most Guyanese, American person I know.”
That pretty much sums me up. Born and bred in Brooklyn, New York but raised with an appreciation of Guyanese culture that continued to grow and deepen as time went on.
The three main reasons why I love going home are:
1. Escape from reality
Offline I’m a single mother of two teen boys. I work a 9-5 and in my ‘spare time’ work to build the RACA platform while freelancing as a graphic designer/project manager. I. Am. BUSY. I look forward to my trips home as a way to forget about my Brooklyn bills and decisions and drama and just revel in the heat, food, people and time away.
Though my trips to Guyana are often related to my work with RACA or the Guyanese youth arts initiative Witness Project,they are also opportunities to leave the stresses of my daily life behind an, for a short time concentrate on myself and others who don’t require too much of me
2. New experiences
I love the break from my normal routine. Even if it’s just another run of the mill day in Guyana, its a different kind of run of the mill and always an interesting one. Whether visiting Kaiteur Falls, cabbing it around the capital of Georgetown, swimming in Capoey Lake or watching Indian soap operas with my aunt, what the locals take for granted is new and amazing to me and I’m deeply appreciative of the experiences.
3. Family & Friends
I don’t have a ton of family left in Guyana but those who are there are amazing. Always with an open door, willing to show me around, share a story or just hang out and catch up on family shenanigans. Without fail, it is because of these aunts, uncles and cousins that my stay is always safe and fun.
As for friends, through my work with Witness Project (working to end the cycle of child directed and gender based violence) and collaborations with the Caribbean Film Academy, (the 1st annual Timehri Film Festival was a great success), I’ve met and been befriended by the most amazing group of people.
So though Guyana may not be my born and raised home, it’s a place for which my love and appreciation is ever growing. And I can’t wait to go home again.