Friday, 14 July 2017

A Note on Nobility

Am I trying to be a hero? Is that a bad thing?

I'm writing this because the other day I met someone at a house gathering and we did the usual chit-chat/small talk, “where are you from?”, and “what are you studying” and eventually, “what do you want to do after? Do you plan on returning home?”

My answer has morphed from, “Yea, for sure!" to "Yea, I definitely want to go back home! I can’t imagine myself settling down or raising a family anywhere else. But I wouldn’t mind working or getting experience in the US first - there are so many opportunities here.”

"Opportunities", exhibit A: CSA touring Facebook (PC
Kelly from Facebook)
The more I’ve had to answer this question, the more complicated the answer seems to get. When I was way younger, I wanted to live abroad. I couldn’t see why I would want to live in Trinidad when I got older with its crime, and corruption, and slow internet. Then I began to appreciate my culture and my people much more, and the sense of belonging that comes with it. But then I started school at Stanford and began to appreciate the freedom, opportunities and convenience of California - the non-humid weather (sweating all the time gets old fast, let me tell you), the safety and security on campus (last night I walked back to my dorm after 11pm and felt completely safe), and the convenience. But what's so convenient about it though?

Someone asked me that the other day, and I really had to pause to think about it. I always associate the US and being at Stanford with ease of living and convenience, but its hard to pinpoint concrete things because I think I take a lot of it for granted. It’s easy to identify what I miss about home while I’m here, then when I return home, it’s easy to pinpoint all the ways the US is more convenient - maybe it’s the way I have the freedom to bike anywhere I want to, or stay out late at night, or get things with 2-day shipping through Amazon Prime.

The point is that each place has its pros and cons, and I’m slowly starting to realize that somewhere else can feel a lot like home - home isn't always defined by geography, but
Views from back home :)
sometimes by the people who are around you. Stanford has become a home because there are people that I can be myself with around here. So what if I found a significant other in the US? Would I really be that averse to settling down here?

There is always a part of me tugging though, tugging me in the direction of Trinidad and reminding me of the sense of duty I feel towards Trinidad. It’s more than duty though; I really love my country, and I want it to be the place we all envision it to be, that is, a paradise. But the older I get, the more problems I see. I used to think that crime and corruption were our biggest problems - which they probably are - but there’s also the education system, attitudes towards mental health, healthcare in general, lack of tolerance, sexual harassment towards women, poor diet and nutrition, poor infrastructure and facilities, lack of advancement in tech…and the list could probably go on. And now I worry that I’m slowly and subconsciously becoming jaded because I want to help “fix” T&T but I wonder if that’s possible, and how, and where would I even start? What’s the best way for me to use my strengths to support my country? I really have no idea.

So back to this house gathering that I was at. The person I was talking to probed further, wondering how my other Caribbean friends at Stanford felt: did they want to go back home, too? To my knowledge, some do, and some don’t. I feel like there’s a mix (If you're also studying abroad and happen to be reading this, hit me up, I'm really curious about the answer to this question). The house gathering homie also acknowledged the other side of the argument, saying that while it’s “noble” to want to return home, there’s nothing wrong with finding a home somewhere else. What if you find a significant other who doesn’t want to leave the Bay Area? Is it that bad to stay here?

This was almost a week ago, and the word “noble” has stayed with me. Am I trying to be noble, to be a hero of some sort? And if so, what are my motivations? Yes, I love my country but the more I’m away, the more I could see myself being somewhere else. But the more I’m away, the more I appreciate home, too. And I do worry about that significant other thing. Family is important to me, and I would like one of my own in the future. So unless he’s from Trinidad too, there’s going to have to be some kind of compromise. What am I willing to compromise for the sake of family, old and new? It’s a lot to think about.

Family! (aka Casimire crew)
Then a friend told me about his other friend who’s also international, but he’s dating an American from the Bay Area who loves California and doesn’t want to leave. But he had his heart set on also returning home to be a doctor there. What will he do? I wonder how people resolve these sorts of things - who sacrifices what? Is it worth giving up a healthy relationship for “noble” intentions? Or is it worth it to give up your dreams of saving your country because you’ve found the love of your life?

I guess there isn’t a right answer, and there are so many dimensions and directions that the issue can take. I’m curious to see where I end up in the future.