What are some things you would like others to know about your culture?
Our food is different in Jamaica. When people come that is one of the first things that they look for and second is entertainment and music. We have the fastest man and fastest woman in the world, and our sports are mainly track and field (and bobsled). Our country is known for tourism with our beautiful, white sand beaches, mountains, and hot springs; and we have very hospitable people.
How has your culture changed or adapted here in the US?
I had to adapt to a whole new lifestyle, as it relates to climatic changes especially the wintry season when it is snowing. [I love the snow. The cold climate keeps me cool!] We had to change our clothing and shoe choices. You can dress for the winter to keep warm, but you cannot dress for the summer to make you cooler. Food is easily accessible here. If you are in America and hungry, you just need to go look for help. There are lots of places to get food here, much more than in Jamaica. I had to adapt to whole new mannerisms, especially the principles of meeting and greeting each other. The way we address each other, especially in hierarchy. We do not call the elderly or bosses by their first names, but by terms of respect. I had to adapt to the food, as ours is naturally ripened and even sizes of items are different. At home we can also get spring water. I had to adapt to the living arrangements. Back home, we do not use AC or heating. Many of our houses are made of building blocks, and not bricks, and a zinc roof. I had to adapt to transportation, because in some areas here we are not privy to easy access of transportation. You cannot easily call someone to pick you up. Instead, you have to call Uber or Lyft. We do not have trains or the T that have regular commutes here.
What does being an immigrant mean to you?
Being an immigrant means there is a better opportunity for a higher education and better workforce environment. It gives me some form of freedom and a better sense of security.
What was your first day/month like in the US?
My first day/month, I was curious and trying to study the environment. I felt very strange, trying to understand what was going on and wondering if I would fit in and be able to adapt. It was full of uncertainties. I asked a lot of questions to try to find out what is what and where things were, especially where the nearest things were. It was a lot of observation.
How has Pittsburgh felt welcoming to you/what about Pittsburgh is welcoming? What does Pittsburgh need to do better to welcome other refugees/immigrants?
I must say that I have met some very wonderful and helpful individuals, who helped to guide me along the way. They gave me advice and provided the tools I needed along the way. I got all the help I needed for my journey, all along the way.
What are your hopes for the future for your family and community living in Pittsburgh?
I need a permanent home. We are working to build credit, so we can buy a home and stop renting. I would also like to give back. I would like to get a degree in psychology and help children, especially children who are incarcerated. I would also love to become a citizen.