Beyond Race: On Being Black In Belize

One of the things I love most about Belize is the cultural diversity. I really appreciate living around folks from different ethnic groups – Creole, Garinagu, Maya, Mestizo, Chinese, Indian, and those from nearby Caribbean and Central American countries like Guatemala and Honduras. Being from New York City, where there’s a bit of everyone from around the world, the variety of flavors and accents is comforting. Continue reading “Beyond Race: On Being Black In Belize”

A Necessary Part: On Vulnerability & Learning A New Culture

At the 20-Year Anniversary Party for the Image Factory Art Foundation in Belize City, June 2016

One of the things I love about living in Belize is getting to know and becoming friends with Belizeans. The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve been spending time with Belizean folks I’ve met socially and professionally. I’ve met some really great people and I’m learning a lot about the culture from them, more so from just getting to know them as opposed to asking them tons of questions (not really my style). Continue reading “A Necessary Part: On Vulnerability & Learning A New Culture”

The Forest For The Trees: Reflections On Living Abroad

photo by Tanisha Christie for the Altared performance art series

On Friday, I spent most of the day in Belmopan taking care of business for a volunteer permit. It required a lot of running around – talking with people at the Ministry of Labor, getting photos taken, gathering documents, and sitting in the police station waiting to receive copies of my record – on a 100-degree day. I did all of this with my friend Simone, who is helping me secure a permit with her women’s organization so that I can provide mental health consulting. Continue reading “The Forest For The Trees: Reflections On Living Abroad”

Finding My Tongue: On (Not) Speaking Kriol

Even though I’ve been living in Belize for nine months, I still don’t speak Kriol. Often when I am out and about, buying something or making small talk with folks, people address me in Kriol. Though I understand what they are saying, I don’t respond in Kriol, which then makes them speak to me in carefully enunciated English. I’ve learned not to take it personally, and still like to think that I am not one of “them” – those American expats who come across as an outsider and expect to be catered to. I don’t want to stand out, I want to blend in. Continue reading “Finding My Tongue: On (Not) Speaking Kriol”

I Am Not An Expat

New and old friends…

The first time I experienced living somewhere other than my hometown of New York was in college. I moved to Ohio knowing nothing about the place. I had visited the school earlier that year with my mom and high school friend. The road trip part was cool. The school was in a small town that was the equivalent of three city blocks. I walked around the tiny, green campus in my long floral dress and Doc Marten combat boots and tried to picture myself as a student there. It wasn’t until I moved on campus later that summer that I realized what I had done. Big city girl in a small town. Continue reading “I Am Not An Expat”