Yes, I'm from Barbados.

November 30, 2012

{via Nikola Simpson}

"Where are you from?"
"Where is that exactly?" 
"It's an island in the Caribbean, sort of near Jamaica and Cuba, but much further South"
"Cool, so how long is the drive from Jamaica?"


"Ahhh Barbados, I've been there. I love the Bahamas!"


"Do you know Rihanna?"


"So I hear you're from Barbados"
"I am indeed :)"
"'re white."
"Yep, there is such a thing as a white Barbadian."
"Oh right, but one of your parents must be black then?"


"So you're from Barbados...but why do you sound Irish?"


"Do they have internet in Barbados?"


"Bajan? Like Cajun chicken?"


"OMG You're part of the Bermuda Triangle! Crazy!"


"You're from Barbados? What the hell are you doing HERE?"


"Ooooo you're from Barbados: IRIE, MON!"
"That's Jamaican and we don't talk like that"
"But aren't you part of Jamaica?"


These are some little snippets of conversations I've had over the years when I mention where I'm from. Rarely do I get a standard response and everyone always has something to say; be it negative, positive or plain ignorant.
Barbados is teeny tiny & a lot of people couldn't point it out on a map but yet the island is world renowned for beautiful beaches, tropical weather, friendly people, yummy food,  awesome music, to name a few.
I love our little island and am so proud to be a Bajan :)

Happy 46th Independence Barbados!

Inside Insides: Brussel Sprouts & Panda Bears

November 28, 2012
I previously mentioned that I'm working for Philips Healthcare without going into specifics of exactly what I'm doing. Without boring you, I'll just say that I'm in the Communications department of the MR division - dealing with everything to do with the cool Philips scanning machines used all over the world. Usually bodies are scanned for medical purposes, showing excruciatingly detailed networks of veins, muscles and every lump and bump in between. This involves a lot of time looking at weird images on the scans, trying to figure out what it all means - during my first few weeks all saw was funny looking aliens, puppies, owls & panda bears. It was like trying to find shapes in the clouds! Since then I've learned to recognize body parts but I'm still learning something new every day. Imagine my delight when I came across this blog showing wacky scanned images, proving that nothing everything is as it seems on the outside...

Andy Ellison, an MRI technologist at Boston University Medical School, uses a Philips 3 Tesla MRI and has created a blog with images of fruit, vegetables and flowers that he started scanning for research purposes. I can't believe how different these images are to what I'd expect; who'd have thought brussel sprouts would be so beautiful?

Brussel Sprouts

Try to guess what the rest of these are:
{Answers are at the bottom of the post}

Bunch of 'Pumpkin Trees' Similar to a pepper or an eggplant



This one reminds me of the octopus from Finding Nemo
Axial Acquisition of Lilly Buds

Answers: Bunch of 'Pumpkin Trees (Similar to a pepper & an eggplant), Garlic, Sunflower, Cucumber & my favourite, an Axial Acquisition of Lilly Buds.

Make sure to check out "Inside insides" for more photos & GIFs. Warning: You'll get distracted for a whileeeeeee!
You can even email Andy with suggestions of new fruit, flowers & veg to scan :)

When in Rome...

November 26, 2012

After my recent rant about trying to find sunshine in a shithole, I decided to take the first step in staying positive and booked a weekend trip to Rome for my birthday :) Good food, good wine, beautiful setting and great company? Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate my quarter century crisis. 
I've never ventured to Italy, even though it's been on my list for years now! The one thing that's always put me off of visiting is the fact that's it's a huge tourist destination and I HATE being a tourist, or at least feeling like one. It's an age old travel conundrum: should one avoid popular tourist destinations purely because everyone goes there? Even though I've always been wary, I'd have to disagree with that because I come from one of the top tourist destinations in the world and believe that there are so many different ways to experience a country. The best way to is through the eyes of a local, and Barbados is a perfect example of this. Same goes for Thailand and other hot spots; my personal experience lies in stark contrast with those of locals or people who visited friends living there. Finding hidden hangouts and local watering holes, trying homemade meals, getting stuck on local transport & seeing how it's really done is the best part of travelling. And yet, the opportunity to visit someone in Italy hasn't sprung up yet - until now :) I'm super excited and can't wait to eat, drink, party, explore and discover everything Rome has to offer.

Can anyone offer me less obvious tips on what to see, eat & do when in Rome?

Gotta love Twitter for this -  I tweeted at Lonely Planet this morning asking for tips on where to eat, love &play and these are some of the responses I got:

Can't wait to start reading through the recommendations!

Any more suggestions?

Follow me on Twitter & join the conversation :)



November 23, 2012

I'm a huge fan of discovering new music through other people.
My fave sources include 8tracks and Grooveshark - these babies introduce me to music I would never normally stumble upon.
Here are some random favourites for this week:

Finding sunshine in a shithole

November 22, 2012

It's been a rough few weeks.
I packed my bags & moved out of my lovely apartment in Amsterdam to start a 6 month internship at Philips Healthcare in Eindhoven, on the less-than-glamorous end of Holland.
My friends and family gave me skeptical looks when I announced I would be moving because 3 hours a day on a train seemed like too much.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure! It'll be fine"
Now I'm not so sure.
Cue rain (it seems rainier here), grey scenery, grumpy people and not much going on in a city that's nicknamed "Eindhoven de gekste" (the crazy). 
At this point, anything 'crazy' would be appreciated, this city is so boring! (Though I'm sure to get more than my fair share of it when the city apparently 'comes alive' for its annual carnival in February.)
Even though I am now only 1.5 hours away from Amsterdam, this new world I'm living in couldn't be more different. It's smaller, less dynamic and doesn't have the same buzz; the people don't seem as friendly and the neighborhoods are desolate. Everyone I've met so far has asked me why on earth I would move from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, not considering the long commute that would have entailed.
Let's call this move a much needed reality check: little island girl who has so far had nothing but luck, good fortune & amazing experiences in interesting places suddenly has the rose tinted glasses taken off and chucked in the bin. Without those glasses I'm suddenly faced with a really difficult, depressing situation and reality doesn't taste very good. 
The point of this post is not to moan or have anyone feel sorry for me (I've had enough pity from all those who asks me where I'm living right now) but rather, to declare that I refuse to let this get the better of me. I also see this as a taste of the life I never want to have and to have a new found appreciation for everywhere else I've lived so far. Every time I've had a negative thought about something I've found myself quickly ending it with "White girl problem." (For those of you who don't know, "White girl problems" = not an actual problem but something trivial relative to actual problems) And yes, it's really a case of mind over matter and focusing on the positive.
I hate where I'm living but I'm so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with an international organisation, gain experience, network and earn decent money in the mean time. I also have great friends to cheer me up on Skype, my bezzies in the Dam who have an open door policy (I'm back there every weekend), family who can give me a push when I need it and a lot of exciting projects coming up in 2013. I'm only here for 6 months and I plan to make the most of it. I believe there is sunshine in this shithole and I will beat these white girl problems, one at a time.
And I will put back on my rose tinted glasses once this is over, thankyouverymuch.

Image via.

Manic Monday: The orbital perspective

November 19, 2012
"For the 50 years that we've been flying in space astronauts & cosmonauts have always commented on how beautiful, how fragile, how peaceful, how tranquil and how breathtaking our planet is from space. These are not cliches that astronauts say because it feels good; it truly is moving to look at our planet from space....We could look down and feel empathy for the struggles that all people face and see that each and every one of us is riding through the universe together on this spaceship that we call earth. That we're all interconnected, that we're all in this together, that we're all family. That's what we call the orbital perspective."

Sunday Snapshots*

November 18, 2012

Some recent snapshots of Amsterdam in Autumn


Let's talk about diabetes

November 14, 2012

Today is World Diabetes Day - a day dedicated to raising awareness on this deadly disease which is rampant in the developing world. 

Though I myself am lucky enough not to have to worry about my blood sugar, there are tens of thousands of Barbadians who do. This disease is poisoning my little island paradise and it's not just our problem.

The latest research from the World Health Organisation states that 346 million people worldwide have diabetes and more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countriesType 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, resulting from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Although there is a small percentage of people with a strong genetic predisposition, Type 2 diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivityThat's a crazy amount of people dying from a disease that can be prevented with a healthier diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a normal body weight.  Type 1 Diabetes is a different story because the cause of Type 1 is unknown and there isn't a cure for it - yet. 

Unfortunately, it's the poorer countries that are being affected the most and are putting a huge financial burden on governments. Estimates show a direct cost of US$ 10.7 billion (!) in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Image what could be done with that money?! Read more on costs in this WHO report here.)
Not to mention other health complications; hundreds of limbs being chopped off every year, people going blind and dying of strokes & other cardiovascular diseases which are all a direct result of a disease that has been poorly managed. I could go on and on and get the picture - It's pretty grim.
The problem in tackling this is that diabetes isn't a 'sexy' disease & if you don't know someone who has it, it's difficult to relate to. Unfortunately it also takes long term lifestyle changes to be implemented for the effects to be noticed. There is no instant solution; you can't have a healthy lunch, quit smoking or refuse alcohol & think "My chances of developing Type 2 diabetes just decreased by 0.2% - yippee!" It doesn't work like that. 
Being healthy is a lifestyle choice and the positive choices you make today are a smart part of a healthier lifestyle in the long run. 
It really bothers me that something like this is happening in a world where the resources are more than readily available to the majority of us and yet there are way too many people who don't understand that their lifestyle choices and behavior today could have serious implications for their health in the future. We need to be educated on the little things; drinking a glass of water over a coke, going for a nice walk a few times a week, putting more fruit and vegetables on our dinner plate and opting for less sugar in our coffee. Our relationship and understanding of food needs to change gradually in order for this to work.

I went to high school with a Type 1 diabetic who is harnessing her condition to educate others. Krystal Boyea is the embodiment of a powerful woman; intelligent, determined, athletic, outspoken, charismatic & feminine. She's showed her peers what it is to be in control of something and uses it to bring about positive change: she really makes you think "Go girl!" She's awesome and she's a champion for young diabetics around the world, doing amazing things like speaking at the UN about living with diabetes and representing North America and the Caribbean as a Youth Ambassador. Though her condition was not developed like Type 2 diabetes, Krystal has to be in control of her body every single second of the day since being diagnosed at age 11; watching what she eats, monitoring her blood sugar levels & researching what it is she's eating before she puts it into her body.

My question is, if someone like Krystal can manage to do this to the extreme, why can't the rest of us be more conscious of what we eat  on a daily basis?

The solution to preventing Type 2 diabetes is changing behavior through education. Pure and simple. 
There are so many great initiatives in Barbados and around the world which aim to do just this; Be The Change BarbadosThe Healthy Caribbean CoalitionJamie Oliver's Food Revolution and Thought for Food, to name a few. By joining in on these causes, spreading the love and sharing ideas you're already helping a worldwide problem with a simple step. 
It takes understanding and education to live a healthier lifestyle and if that means making something like diabetes seem 'sexier' and more relevant  then so be it. Our generation is already proving that we can work together for a brighter future so let's talk about this and empower others to make better choices. 

6 lessons you learn from travelling


Oh how I love Thought Catalog! It's my daily dose of inspiration, humour & 'kick-in-the-butt-to-go-do-something-cool'. If you still haven't discovered this awesome bible for twentysomethings make sure to put it on your list of distractions today. I had to re-blog this post by Evelyn Cheung on '6 lessons you learn from travelling' because I found myself nodding (and chuckling) in agreement with every single point. 
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

"I have stepped on five continents within the past year, visited eleven countries, and met people from all over the world. It is hard to say all of that without sounding like a fully pretentious asshole. But besides the obviously enriching experiences I’ve had driving down Great Ocean Road in Australia or drinking hot wine while walking through the Christmas markets in Paris, I’ve found that the most important things I’ve learned are incredibly mundane:

1. Good company is hard to find, but easier when you know you’ll never see them again. 

We all know that finding good friends is a painstakingly difficult process. But when traveling, your fellow travelers are your best friends. The barista at the cafe who serves you your cafe au lait can be your replacement sister, and the guy you met on the metro can turn into your lover for a night or two. The appeal of everyone as a human being increases when you know your time together is fleeting. Or maybe it’s because everyone decides to be nicer because first impressions really matter when you only have so much time with someone. Yes, you will meet people you cannot stand, but you will meet people that you wish you could spend the rest of your life with. But you don’t. Because that is entirely unrealistic, since you will never be in the same place at the same time again.  Some things are better left short and unadulterated; it is what it is and what it was is perfect.

2. You learn to associate certain places with certain people. 

This gets dangerous, as you realize that you can never return to the places you love and have them be the same ever again. It goes something like this: Wait. That was the step of Sacre Coeur we sat on when we talked about your family, no? Isn’t that spot on Bondi Beach where we realized that absolutely had to move to Australia? Haven’t you been to Bondi? Hey, isn’t that where your friend Jennifer vomited on the steps of Lan Kwai Fong? God, I miss her. Shit, you don’t know her do you? You get the point. Makes for some pretty profound nostalgia. I had three relatively serious flings while traveling, all in different countries — Spain, Singapore, and Hong Kong. And it sucks just because I know I will think of those people every time I think of the place. They’re not just my cities or places. The construct of each place in my mind is based around that one person or group of people. But was it the person that made me fall in love with the place or the place that made me fall in love with the person?

3. Home is where you make it. 

Not just where your heart is. The definition of home tends to vary from person to person. But you learn to build and rebuild everywhere you go. You find new friends, new family, and places where you’ll be a regular. It’s all about relearning the things in new places that make your everyday life tick — like where the best latte is, the shortest walk to where you need to go, the longer scenic walk to where you need to go, where to buy groceries that have international imports that remind you of your actual home, and so on. This is an ongoing process. Some days you’ll hate the place, and it will feel nothing like home. And other days, you know there’s no place else that feels more like it.

4. Paradise is temporary; reality is there.

 So I went to the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi this past April. We were sitting at a bar on the beach when we heard that there was an 8.6 earthquake in Indonesia, which set off a tsunami warning. The siren went off across the entire island. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground. We sat in the jungle on a mountain for five hours. Paradise shattered. Sent a couple of “If anything happens, please know that I love you” texts (3G is awesome). Thankfully, no tsunami. But this realization that shit can happen even in places where you feel so far removed from reality was incredibly disconcerting.

5. You find the most important people in your life when you’re the furthest away from them. 

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but distance also makes the heart grow colder. It could be “out of sight, out of mind.” You figure out who makes the effort to keep in touch with you and who doesn’t. But more importantly, you figure out who YOU make the effort to keep in touch with and who you don’t. You learn who you want to come back to.

6. If there is one thing that you could spend the rest of your money on for the rest of your life, it should be this. 

And by “this” I mean traveling, new experiences, and new places. There are few things more valuable than that. Although traveling does not necessarily make you a better person per se, it does color your life in new ways. Yes, it is a luxury, and yes, it does cost heaps of money. But how many times do you wake up in the morning wishing you were somewhere else? How many times do you wish you had booked that trip to Southeast Asia but never got around to doing it? 
Think about it. And go."

Lessons Learned at One Young World {Part 1}

November 13, 2012
I'm talking about One Young World again in another attempt to make sense of it all. The more I think about what I came away with from the summit, I noticed that most of the ambassadors keep talking about the same things; leadership, taking initiative, collaboration & the main lesson we could each relate to the most. So here is my personal list of lessons learned at One Young World, split into parts because I don't want to go on another loony rant...

1.) There are heroes everywhere

I left Pittsburgh with an updated list of personal heroes (Malala, Carol Stone and Astro Ron, to name a few) and I'm pretty sure I sat through most plenary sessions with wide eyes and mouth agape; I was blown away by the courage, determination and brilliance of SO many people at this summit and I couldn't believe that they were normal people who had just done heroic things. One of these people, Jessica Jackley of,  described what it takes to become a superhero: "We have to be careful because sometimes our powers can go unused...You have to believe in yourself & be utterly convinced of your powers. Give yourself permission to be a superhero; because superheroes are just regular people who decided to put on a capeThey decided to be great and to put on their greatness because they know the world needs them. They're not afraid to fail, they're not afraid to just get out there and try."


 2.) Our possibilities are only limited by our imagination

Our possibilities are only limited by imagination and our will to act...It is within our capabilities to solve problems.' BOOM. Astro Ron delivered one of the best speeches of the conference, hands down. Ron Garan is such a gifted speaker, introducing the concept of 'orbital perspective' (more on that later). He urged us to remember that 'every great accomplishment once seemed impossible and crazy', which is exactly what we needed to hear considering the tasks that lay ahead for today's youth, from battling poverty to solving the economic crisis. 'So we have to ask ourselves: if we have the capability to solve all of the problems that we face, why do so many critical problems still remain?"


3.) There is so much power in numbers: Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate!

There is power in numbers; we all know that, but when the charismatic Sean Bailey, Secretary to UK PM David Cameron, unleashed these words on stage he was pretty blunt about the importance of numbers in politics especially: "Excite people to join your movement. Bring voice. Make it important. Numbers push politicians. " And this doesn’t just apply to peer-to-peer collaboration; in order to get your voice heard more young leaders need to actually be involved in politics itself. With the ability to collaborate on a global scale there’s no reason for anyone to have to do it alone; we need to work together towards our common goals across all countries, involving as many people as possible along the way. As Alvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia also raised the point of global collaboration: “Please do not think in countries. New generation: look for colleagues worldwide!" In this day and age, social media has given us a new and unique kind of power. 

…which leads me to my next set of lessons, coming up in Part 2!

{All images via One Young World & edited for this post}

Manic Monday: The art of storytelling

November 12, 2012
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm a huge fan of stories; everybody/thing/place has one and I find it fascinating to share stories and hear something new. I'm always digging for a story and trying to uncover what it is that makes people and places who they are. Here's an awesome video on collaborative storytelling by "Already Alive" who's mission is to tell the story of why. 'There is always a genuine story to tell, about anything. We like to discover that bigger story, capture it and make it beautiful. Even when a video has a marketing goal, we avoid the hard sell. Instead, we invite people to feel something they will remember, something they want to share.'

The loony toon Ambassador - One Young World in a nutshell

November 6, 2012
Yikes, I've been a bad blogger.
This morning I got the kick in the butt that I've needed for a while now which came in the form of an email from a friend who was interested in joining the One Young World bandwagon. She wanted to know more details about my trip and she asked me why I hadn't put more on my blog. I realised I'd failed at keeping a promise I'd made to myself which was to let every person possible know about this great opportunity, so that I can make it more available to them as well. So without further ado, I'll continue on my loony toon rant about this amazing conference.  Here are some more details, which are perfectly timed with the new application for Johannesburg in October, 2013, which opened today. 

The who, what, when, where & how of One Young World:

One Young World 2012 was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Founded in 2009 by David Jones and Kate Robertson, both successful entrepreneurs, One Young World is 'a charity that gathers young people globally and aims at helping the delegates form lasting connections which will enable them to create positive change.'
Candidates must first submit a proposal on pressing issues affecting the world, or more specifically their country. This can be a range of issues, including the role of business in society, transparency in business and government, the impact of climate change, global health and hunger relief. I chose to focus on a preventative health intervention aimed at tackling Type 2 diabetes in the developing world because of the prevalence of this disease in Barbados. I had written this intervention as an assignment for a module on Health Campaigns and I got quite into it; I was shocked to see how this disease was poisoning my little island.

A friend of mine had attended the inaugural One Young World summit in London (in 2010) and suggested I give it a go. I didn’t really think anything of it again because I didn’t think I could get the funding in Barbados. I then saw that this year 100 delegate positions were being offered to support individuals from under-represented countries. The ‘100 Bar None’ scheme has brought delegates from countries who have never before had a presence, such as Barbados, Somalia, Iraq and the Ivory Coast. I jumped at the opportunity, applied the same day and won full sponsorship, which included the flights, hotel and conference ticket.
Because I was the only Barbadian delegate I was automatically selected to bear our broken trident at the opening ceremony and it was a great feeling walking down the carpet to lay down our flag next to to those of 183 other countries. 

The organisation is run by a team of counsellors who are all experts & visionaries in their fields; Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, Fatima Buttho, Muhhamed Yunnis, Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Jamie Oliver, Richard Branson and corporate CEOs from Barclays, Unilever & KPMG, to name a few, so you can imagine the impact which One Young World delegates will have through this network. This is then topped with incredible One Young World ambassadors who have taken this opportunity to start their own companies, social businesses, movements & initiatives to bring about the change they wish to see in the world. 

Our days were filled with speeches, plenary & break out sessions, networking, networking and more networking. I met people from all walks of life and shared stories with certain delegates who had never even heard of Barbados. It was totally overwhelming and exhausting at times; I was moved to tears by those who shared their stories of courage, dedication and hope. This emotional sensitivity may also have been due to the insane amounts of caffeine consumed in order to keep up.

One Young World was life changing for me; I was in the presence of such great, inspiring people the entire time and I’ve come away with a renewed sense of self and what it is I want to do with my life, for my country and other people. One of the main messages I’ve taken away with me from this weekend is that age and experience are not factors which determine success. If anything, being young and willing to try to new things is that often brings about the best ideas. We were encouraged to push for what we believe in, whether it was to pressure governments to focus more on sustainability or to start our own business ventures, we were encouraged to keep on pushing. Challenges will arise, we will be told that we’re too young, too foolish and we will be turned away at first; but the key is to keep on pushing.
The One Young World Summit has been all about diversity of perspectives, power of collaboration and youth empowerment to ultimately make this world a better place. As idealistic as it sounds, the summit has succeeded in bringing together a rich diversity of perspectives: 1300 delegates, 182 countries, business leaders, writers, politicians, human rights activists from all over the world.


My main aim at this point is to make sure that as many Bajans as possible know about this conference so that I can get an entire TEAM together for next year. We have some of the brightest youth in the world on our little rock and I want the whole world to know it by bringing our ideas to the international table. I'm hoping to scream it out loud virtually through this blog, Facebook, Twitter & our local news outlets so that I can get all those who are interested in something like this to join in. If you know anyone who would be keen, please share this information with them. If I can get just ONE more person to join in, then I'm one step closer to fulfilling my promise.

So ladies and gents, who's joining me in Johannesburg next year?

If it's you, click here to sign up.
If you're still not sure, have a paroozle here and you may just change your mind :)