My time in Beijing, China has been one of many exciting challenges and opportunities to learn, to grow as well as to rediscover my identity as a person of Chinese-Caribbean descent. Since leaving my homeland and coming to that of my ancestors, Beijing has shown itself to be an ever- evolving and multi-cultural city, truly one of the global centers of commerce, creativity and innovation. Many persons within the Barbadian and by extension Caribbean Diaspora are as to be expected, very warm and welcoming. Furthermore, there is a growing talent pool of amazing persons from across the region. The community here exists as a place of support, familiarity and comfort from home.
Arriving in 2016 as a Tourism Masters student, I have since been privileged to participate in a multitude of different activities from volunteering at the Commonwealth Society Gala to even becoming a host for the 2017 Global
Diplomats’ Night hosted by a well known Chinese company, LOOK WE, who is responsible for a number of collaborations between China and developing countries. I also worked with a local tourism planning and developing company which afforded me the opportunity to visit many areas within China and gained a greater understanding of this vast country and its people. In February 2018, I had the honor of becoming the first ever intern at the Barbados Embassy in Beijing. In this role, I was charged with working on a tourism development research project which I hope will not only help with the strategic direction for Barbados’ Tourism economy, but also will also bring a higher level of exposure to my little island in the sun.
There are many perceptions of China. Some of which are true and others which I think are limited. It is only until you are able to visit and to a further extent live amongst the people can you truly understand the intricacies and cultural complexities that exist within the belly of the dragon. For me, it was the importance of “guanxi” and of “saving face”. These two concepts are so intertwined in the social fiber of this society, both equally vital elements to surviving a life in China. With that being said, I encourage more Barbadians to come and visit, study and work here as you will not only be exposed to the Chinese perspective but also to the many other persons from different countries who position themselves here to better understand the next emerging global super power. It is my belief that Barbados and by extension the Caribbean is a rich melting pot of diverse histories, people and cultures which I believe people should continuously be proud to showcase to the world. I believe there are numerous opportunities in China that can further aid Barbados in its own development. Furthermore, I believe that there is great value and use for persons in the Diaspora which can help foster stronger ties between Barbados and all the nations of the world.
In Conclusion, I would like to leave you, the reader, with one last thought:
In life we are all designated ambassadors and we are forthwith duty bound to be the best representatives possible of our own brand, our culture and our country.