This was a fun interview! I bet that you will find something about Andrea’s experience that resonates with you if you are of Caribbean descent or know someone that is.
Andrea is a self professed “Jill of All Trades” who moved from being a writer for a newspaper to becoming a teacher with a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She has traveled all over the world and has a great appreciation for different cultures, including her own. Now that she is back in the US, she seeks out health, wellness and lifestyle experiences with a cultural and/or international twist. Check out this interview and learn more about Andrea and her Caribbean upbringing.
Socamom: Tell us about yourself Andrea!
Andrea: I am Jamaican-American. I am the only person in my immediate family born in the United States. My identity and pride in being Jamaican was shaped very early by my parents. I spent my summers with my family in Jamaica from early childhood up until I reached high school. I've always seen myself as Jamaican first with an American passport and accent. I love being Caribbean, and one day I know I'll own a home somewhere in the region. If it's not in Jamaica, it will be one of the islands. My heart and soul vibrates to the Caribbean.
Socamom: Growing up, what was it about having a Caribbean mom that made you different from your friends from America?
Andrea: Some of the cultural differences were in the colloquialisms that Caribbean parents use often like: "pickney" meant child; "batty" meant butt; "you a big somebody" meant, “you think you grown?” [laughs] But for the most part I think mothering is mothering anywhere in the world.
Socamom: Tell us about a time that you realized that your mom was different from other moms.
Andrea: I have two vivid memories. First, when my parents came to my elementary school I think for Open House and when they started talking, my classmates looked at me like I had a third eye. I don't have an accent, but my parents do and I think it shocked some of my classmates, but it was all good. Another time was when I was in middle school, I remember being at Wal-Mart with my mom and she got into an argument with the customer service representative who didn't want to return an item. I remember her saying, "Ooo see that's why I can't stand y'all. Go back to Africa." I just remember thinking wow, first of all Africa is a beautiful place and I would love to "go back" because clearly I am African (Jamaican), but honey get your life and educate yourself.
Socamom: I do remember people being confused by my parents’ accents and them thinking that it must be “African.” I remember thinking… well… it is… sort of! Is there something about being from the Caribbean that has shaped who you are personally and/or professionally?
Andrea: Absolutely. My identity was shaped pretty early on as being a Jamaican woman, as well as American. The older I get the more I attract other Caribbean people. It's like we can sniff each other out. I am an educator and I also work in public health. One of my life and professional goals is to have a center and/or program in the Caribbean that provides health and wellness services for the local people. This is very important to me and is one of my many life-long goals.
Socamom: How do others (co-workers, friends, family) benefit from you being of Caribbean descent?
Andrea: My job is very multi-cultural and we celebrate people from different regions of the world. Last year we had two international festivals in which I participated in with other colleagues that are from Jamaica. I was able to showcase my culture, wear colors and hold the flag as well as share traditional food and drink like beef patties and sorrel with my co-workers. It was nice to show that side of myself with my professional peers. And I benefit as well from my co-workers that are American and from other countries too!
Socamom: That sounds like an amazing place to work! Growing up, how did your mom keep you connected to Caribbean Culture? How do you keep yourself connected now?
Andrea: We spent summers in Jamaica with family. Most, if not all of my parents' friends were Jamaican and we had a lot of house parties when I was a kid growing up in Texas. Yellow Man would be blasting from the speakers, rice and peas cooking on the stove, a game of dominoes was going on with the men and the wives of these men were all sitting around chatting Patois with my mom. This was my piece of Jamaica in Texas as a child. I stay connected now by being a part of Caribbean organizations. I am a member of the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce. I also belong to several social media groups of Jamaicans and other Caribbean people. And most recently I applied for my dual citizenship to become an official citizen of Jamaica.
Socamom: I have been stalling on my dual citizenship! That is excellent. What is your favorite Caribbean Mom Quote?
Andrea: I heard this a lot as a little girl, "Eh-eh, she too likkle an' womanish!" I was very grown acting as a girl. I wasn't trying to be. I just was. [laughs] Another one my mom would say (and still does) a lot is, "Royal George!"
Socamom: What are your favorite 3 Caribbean dishes? Do you make them, wait for friends or family to make them, or go to a restaurant?
Andrea: My three favorites are oxtails, curry goat, and jerk chicken – all served with rice and peas, steamed cabbage, fried plantain. My mother cooked these dishes a lot when we were younger. Now that's she's older, she cooks mainly for holidays. I mainly go to Jamaican/Caribbean restaurants now.
Socamom: If you could move to any Caribbean country, which one would you move to and why?
Andrea: Any one of the CARICOM islands since I am a citizen now. It doesn't have to be Jamaica - just anywhere that I can live freely, relaxing by the beach wit mi people dem.
Socamom: Tell me about your blog.
Andrea: My blog, Health Wellness Lifestyle TV, is a place where I discuss experiences, products, services that are health, wellness and lifestyle related. I've blogged on topics from cervical cancer, to a spa review, to the importance of drinking green tea. Travel is a big part of my "lifestyle" so you'll see some travel and wanderlust posts as well. I went to Colombia, South America last year and that was actually my very first blog post.
Socamom: Who do you find benefits the most from your blog?
Andrea: Anyone that is into health, wellness and lifestyle will enjoy my blog. I have men that follow me. But my predominant demographic, as far as gender, is women. My followers are very international too. I have a huge following of people from Ghana, West Africa, Latin America, North America and some people from the Caribbean.
Socamom: What can we look forward to from you and your blog?
Andrea: I am working on some apparel right now, but it's in the beginning stages. Soon come...soon come.
Find out more about Andrea!