Preparing for New Environments

We are on our way to Grenada! With the chaos that comes with grad school, I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this until now and maybe I’m not completely prepared, yet. I’m ready for the “work” part of it. I’ve read up on alcohol use and gender differences, looked over the project documents, and discussed the work with my team. That’s the easy part. The bigger challenge is getting the right mindset for approaching a new culture. I’m sitting in the Miami airport, but already it is clear that I am in a vastly different region. The shops have brightly colored sculptures. Spanish is just as prevalent as English. Fried plantains are on the menu at more than one of the restaurants we’ve seen…and we haven’t even left the States, yet. When we arrive in Grenada, these aspects of my environment will change, yet again. Culture, language, diet, and so many other social nuances that warrant consideration in public health research shift when you change geographic regions. Yes, we’ve done our reading and maybe we know the recent trends and statistics, but that isn’t the whole picture. We don’t know about the traditions, the rituals, the unspoken social divisions, or any intricacies of a culture that the scientific literature simply cannot portray. So, entering into this new environment, I have to shift my mind set. It’s a delicate balance you have to strike. I want to use my skills to help the people of Grenada, but I can’t just come into their space and declare that. I have to establish trust. I need to show that I want to learn from them. I need to open up, remain humble, and accept any knowledge that they are willing to offer me. Oh, and I have a week to do so. So I’m just trying to keep all of this in my head and enter with modesty and an open mind.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for New Environments

  1. Spanish not prevalent as a part of Grenada language at all. Actually, French words get added to the local dialect which is really English but, spoken with such rapidity and emphasis on syllables which you are probably not accustomed to, that you might consider the Grenadian dialect a different language. Words like fete, oui, are a part of the dialect as a are number of other French words. There is no Spanish incorporated into or in frequent use in Grenada though most kids will probably learn French and Spanish in school since other islands in the Caribbean use French and Spanish. Plantain is definitely available in a variety of shapes and sizes, some other local foods you must enjoy whist you are in the island are Oil Down (the national dish of Grenada and very unique to Grenada), Rotis, Roasted corn, Saltfish, breadfruit, callaloo … the list goes on but be sure to try and find a good Oil Down Dish -not at a tourist restaurant but hopefully homemade. Ask any taxi driver, fisherman, or local and they will surely steer you in way of a good OilDown. Here’s a link to give you an idea of what’s in it but it really depends on who’s making it – usually chicken is quite common in it -and usually bones are included so be careful.

    • Thank you for the great tips about Grenada. My comments about Spanish and plantains were actually regarding our stop in Miami. I simply wanted to highlight that there are cultural changes to be taken into consideration with each unique geographic region. Some are obvious, while some differences are more subtle. My point was that just within an airport within the United States, I was reminded of this. Here in Grenada, there is, of course, a culture unique from that of Miami that I have had the pleasure of learning about during my preparation for and stay in Grenada.

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