Hola my fellow Chamingers. A few announcements. Real Talk Episode #6 released today! We are also doing a new Clubhouse + Amazon Giveaway. Make sure to listen and read the transcript to our latest episode of this Real Talk discussing the realities of having to move to Jamaica from Colorado as a kid. Having to learn how to start over from zero teaches you perspective and humility as long as you can properly reframe your mindset!
***GIVEAWAY ALERT! We are celebrating 1 month of our podcast being live with another giveaway. This is a very special one because we are also going to be discussing a few major announcements to our brand and podcast. We are giving away clubhouse invites and $75 worth of Amazon gift cards. Don’t miss it! Check it out HERE
Additionally, we have released multiple new DAILY CC episodes – our vlog that showcases the behind-the-scenes of Chaminger and what it takes to build a brand and podcast from zero! Watch here!
Are you ready to have the real talk with yourself? It is time to listen to someone else continue their self-reflection journey and see if you can relate or do the same things. Check out the audio and transcript of our entire episode below. We appreciate you for starting the journey to #BecomingXceptional with us!
Listen to Real Talk Episode #6 released today!
And read along – the transcript:
Fabian: Hola Amigos. My name is Fabian Chagoya.
Alejandro: And I am Alejandro Chagoya.
Fabian: And we’re the hosts of Real Talk, a show all about the journey of self-improvement and getting to know oneself in which we discuss the harsh truths related to finding success.
Welcome back to Real Talk by Chaminger. Thank you for joining us as we continue our previous discussion on the journey to Becoming Xceptional, since this is a multi-part episode. If you’ve not watched a previous segment, we highly recommend it for context, but feel free to continue and experience the valuable message delivered in this episode, regardless.
We appreciate you. We hope you enjoy today’s Real Talk.
I want to hear, like, maybe give us one or two examples of a situation that happened, like outside of school that it was like, Oh my goodness, what is this? Um, did you have any of those moments?
Alejandro: Just as a general overview, uh, for example, we had the whole issue of Colorism. Which was an interesting concept for me at the time, I wasn’t overly familiar with that. We had the discrimination between the Jamaican people themselves between how, how dark or light skin their color was which was certainly quite a revelation for me at the time. And apparently even newspapers favoring people, or slandering them basically, by coloring their skin tone either lighter or darker, just rather shocking for me.
I mean, one thing that was also different was that we were living in a gated community. And I think that was also one way, that we had that sort of separation between the culture shock. That in one hand, we basically huddled together as a family in our home and then outside was everything else. And I think that really marked the sort of stark contrast, in a way. I mean, it sounds kind of bad in the putting it like that, but that was, in a sense, the reality.
Of course, we got to learn a lot more about the people and the culture. Like Fabian, for example, wound up being on his school soccer team, we’ll get more into that in a little bit. We definitely made some friendships and got to know people and what have you, but there were certainly a lot of learning experience to go with the culture.
Fabian: I think you said a lot. The color issue alone. I mean, it’s crazy to think because obviously we can’t relate because yeah, we’re more olive skin tone than white, but still we are considered-
Alejandro: you are more, so, I mean, I’m fairly pale here.
Fabian: Nothing a good vacation can’t fix, but it was crazy to think that, to be frank, like I view it as you guys are all dark. I don’t really see a color difference, but to them, it was like they saw white as chalk versus black as the night sky. And when you think about that, it’s kind of mind blowing that people just each view themselves and each other so differently based on their own experiences and what they were exposed to.
Looking back at it, you just see it. Oh my God. Like these guys lived a completely different world than we did. They were worried about who was dark Brown versus who was black. And that’s crazy to think about. When there’s so much other stuff going on. I mean, just the year before that, we had 9/11 and the U.S. was completely changing their airport security. Then we go to Jamaica and you could just sneak anything in there and no one cared because it was just a different world.
But the gated community piece really resonates with me because it really was like, you leave this gate, you’re going out into the real world. You stay in here and you’re safe, you’re protected, you can be with your family, can do your own thing. It really was that way. And I can relate and we’ll get into it more. But, I walked to school half the time with my mom. So you’re walking to school, maybe a mile or two. You walk half a mile and you start seeing broken down homes and people just have their chairs out in front and they’re just literally smoking weed and it’s 8:00 AM and they’re just out there, they have nothing else. They have pet goats, they have pet chickens and that’s their life. They don’t even have a job. And you see that as a kid. And you’re just like, okay, interesting, very interesting.
I guess one of the things that I’m interested to hear for you is, that always resonates with me, is just things that impacted me as a kid. One of those activities was going to the movies. So do you have any stories that relate to that? Because I feel like it was very different in Jamaica compared to what we were used to.
Alejandro: Ah yes, there were certainly some interesting things that came up there. For example, one of the first times we went to the movies, we go there and we’re sitting in the theater. Before the start of the movie, an announcement comes on and on the screen as well. And it says, everyone please stand and prepare to sing our glorious national Anthem. I’m like, what’s going on here? So then they start a recording of the national Anthem starts playing and everyone stands and sings. And that was a very unique experience for me. I had never experienced the like since.
I mean, it’s good to be patriotic, there’s no harm in that. Versus say nationalism, but let’s not get into that obviously. But yeah that was certainly quite an interesting experience to see that they had this this patriotism to them. And it was also interesting to learn, for example, as we would see later that they were also very deeply religious, spiritual people.
Fabian: For sure. I mean, it was crazy to think that they were singing the national Anthem at the movie theater. I just think about like going to every movie here in the U.S. and if we would sing the national Anthem before every movie, but to be fair, in school, we grew up with saying the pledge of allegiance every day. So like, how different is it? And like there’s similarities.
But the thing that always blew my mind was that Jamaica, this culture where kids were almost less monitored and restricted. Everyone kind of just did their own thing because it was almost like the wild West, but it really was just on an Island. You would go to like these places that you needed to have more money. So like a mall or a movie theater. And there were these insane restrictions. I remember “The Lord of The Rings” came out. Tell us about that.
Alejandro: Oh, yeah, the previous year, in 2001, “The Fellowship of The Ring” came out, the first of “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. So we were excited, come the next December when we were in Jamaica, to go see “The Two Towers”, the sequel.
We arrived to the cinema and suddenly it turns out that like, Oh, you’re not 16 years old. Sorry. But, you can’t, you can’t see the movie. It’s like, wait, what? So pretty much they had a certain age restrictions that were more stringent than what we’d had been accustomed to. Even with parental accompaniment, you could not go see the film. So we were absolutely stunned and quite disappointed. So we had to head home and we couldn’t see the movie until a fair bit later.
Fabian: All that blood, that ork blood, can’t have that.
Alejandro: All that ork blood. And to be fair, to be fair. I remember reading a critic review, at the time, of the movie saying it was a great film and also lamenting that there’d be for sure a number of people who would also be upset. Precisely about Jamaica’s curious age restriction on the matter. And it wasn’t just this film. There were also some other movies as well. There was one other instance. I remember, I think it was, uh, “Catch Me If You Can”, if I remember correctly. We also went to go see that and we were also denied. You’re like, Oh, once again, once again, Jamaica.
Fabian: That’s insane to think about. That this place, that you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s kind of like, Hey, no one, no one’s going to tell, no one’s going to see. Just let it happen, what’s the worst that can happen? But no, they were so strict about that because it was almost like the more “elite”, well off families could go to those things. And the other people really couldn’t. They just wouldn’t go to the movie theaters, like the locals, the poor people. So those like rich Chinese families and stuff like that, they wanted their kids not to be exposed to those things. So they’re like good, good restrictions. And you’re like, no.
So it’s just interesting to see, but I think this kind of really.
Alejandro: Just as a quick aside though, that you brought up the rich Chinese families. For our viewers, we should point out that there was actually a significant influx of Chinese immigrants. And Fabian was a friend of a family of some of them from his school. So I just, I just thought I should point that out.
Fabian: Yup. Yup. It reminds me, well, let’s talk about the school experience. I mean, it was super unique and interesting. Curious to hear your experiences versus mine. But, I went to this school that there was an entrance exam, we talked to the principal and all these things. And I had the opportunity, purely because of age, not because of intelligence, even though I’m sure I would have based on that, the opportunity to skip a year. And I took it in a heartbeat. I mean, that’s always who I was. I hated school. I never was a fan. I wanted to minimize the amount of time doing that. And I’m like, yes, saving a year.
Alejandro: Now I understand that you were an overachiever for time as well.
Fabian: Yup. I mean, you can hate school and still be an overachiever. Like I wanted to be the best at it, but I didn’t want to do it. I much preferred staying home and doing my own thing.
So I got the opportunity to skip a year. But it was also interesting because now you’re at this Catholic school that you go to church at least once a week, sometimes I think two. There was also religious class that you were graded at, testing you on the Bible and all this stuff. And you also were the only white guy. There was two white people, including myself, in this entire school and he was in the same grade, but in another classroom. So it literally was, like, you’re walking through there and you’re like this alien. Everyone stops, I mean, eventually people got used to you, but at the beginning, people stopped as you’re walking by. It’s like, Oh, Oh, hello. Who’s that? So it’s just super interesting to see that.
I don’t remember if we arrived the first day of school or not, because that was one of the problems of my dad’s job. That sometimes we, by the time we made it to a new country and were properly transitioned there, the school had already been going on for a few weeks or months. Every country has different timeframes. Like in the U.S., historically you would end like maybe like in the beginning of June or the end of May and you would start sometime in end of August, when other places you would maybe end like in the middle of July and start in the middle of September. So, I don’t remember if it had already had started or not. But I do remember that the first day I got there, my teacher, Mr. Ashley. Best teacher in the world, he’ll tell you that if you asked him, he’s like, Hey everybody welcome our new student from the United States of America. It was almost like this moment where everyone was clapping, like the hero comes back from destroying the aliens and everyone’s super excited I’m from America. And then he’s like, okay, how about you pick some songs for us to sing for devotion. And I’m like, like, do I need to pick like, Backstreet, Brittany Spears songs?
I’m like first, I don’t know what the devotion is. I don’t know what song we were talking about. And then eventually I convinced him that someone else should do it. And then I’m like, Oh crap, everyone stands up and they all start clapping. And it’s all religious songs. I’m like, Oh my goodness, what is happening?
So that was kind of my foray into the Jamaican school. And I do want to talk about what the sixth grade meant for me, but I want to hear your initial impressions and experiences of being like one of the few white guys and how that school experience was. I mean, if I recall correctly, you went to a male-only school.
Alejandro: That’s correct. Yes. Walmer’s boys school was where I went to, apparently fairly prestigious school in Jamaica. It was very, a very interesting experience, besides of course the fact that I was just going to be surrounded by male students, as opposed to as it was in the United States, both girls and boys. It was certainly quite an experience on so many levels.
Wow, it’s like, where to start… One interesting thing was obviously as we said, Jamaica as British colony, British influences. So right off the start, we are sorted into houses. Very much like, for those familiar with “Harry Potter”, that’s exactly how it was. Obviously that would come into play more in terms of the sports day, which was a really big deal.
When we were in Colorado, we were the top of our class. As we said, in our previous talk, we were at the top of our game when we wrapped up. And we were A+ students pretty much. I think both my sister and I got like a special award because we were the top of our year and A in everything.
When we moved there and went to their school, I only found out this later on, but apparently, they didn’t actually believe it was possible that I could score as high, highly as I did. So, how they had it set up was that they would divide the classes into different letters, according to Walmer’s name, was the founder of the school. And it would be based on your grades. So I was basically put into some sort of intermediate class initially. After some months, they wound up changing me to a different class. But yes, initially, I was with a certain group of students as a result of that, because they simply didn’t believe it was possible to score as highly as I did.
There were then some other elements, obviously. One thing about Jamaica is that they have a certain, um, how should we put this, dialect, we could call it, I think. Hopefully I’m using the word right, called Patois, which is a mix of several different languages. Depending on, uh, both, you could say that the education level of the speaker as well as how I guess they, they chose to present themselves. It would affect how, how you’d be able to interact and understand the people.
So sometimes you be talking to people, to some classmates for example, in my case with school, obviously. I know my parents had some complications understanding some people. But yes, in school they were a couple of classmates of mine that I had trouble understanding. And I remember turning to another classmate who spoke a little, you could say a little more proper English, I guess. I mean, that sounds bad. I’m sorry, but that’s kind of how it was. And he basically had to interpret for me at times, at least initially, and afterwards I started becoming more accustomed to, to how some of them spoke.
I remember once even one classmate said that, depending on who he would talk to, that it would impact how he would, to what degree he would speak. Like with a fellow Jamaican, he might engage in Patois, whereas opposed to like someone like me, he would talk in more proper English, “proper” of course.
One thing that stood out for me, I don’t think was necessarily the case with you, was that then trying to connect with my fellow students. So there were a couple who spoke slightly more proper English than there were a couple, I remember two classmates. One who was, I think, a Canadian Jamaican and another who was Jamaican American, I guess. One of his parents was from New York originally. That’s, that’s I was a way for me to connect a little bit more to something that was slightly more, more familiar, more relatable. Afterwards from there, I was able to, um, come to learn and appreciate more of the Jamaican culture. But I think that was a helpful sort of a stepping point initially.
But yes, also same with me with devotions, for example, again. From the start, I’m like, Oh, wow, we’re starting off here and they want to start singing and I’m like I don’t know any of these songs. I’m going to try to more or less lip sync or something. And then one of the people then said, Hey, we noticed you don’t seem to know the songs. Are there any songs you want to have us sing? It’s like, wow, I don’t know these songs. I mean, I didn’t say it at the time, but this wasn’t simply part of our religious tradition, the singing and the songs that they have. I came to learn a lot of songs, just like Fabian did, but there was certainly quite an experience.
As for the skin color issue. Yeah, there were certainly some exchange students. There was, I remember one former classmate, in the first class I was in, that was of, of British origin was also white. One interesting, funny story about that actually, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Because of our skin color and coming from the United States, they naturally assumed that we were well off, we were rich essentially. And I was hard-pressed to try to convince them otherwise, which left me in a very awkward position. My dad, as he worked at the diplomatic section of the Mexican embassy in Kingston, Jamaica working for the ambassador there. And so he sent once the embassy’s limo driver to come pick me up and I’m like, wow. Wow, wow. Wow. This is, this is not helping my case at all, at all.
And also regarding the racial issue and funnily enough, the Chinese thing you brought up. I think I mentioned this to you once before, but I remember once talking to a classmate, who I kind of considered to be a friend, and then all of a sudden he stops and says, he laughs and he says, you know, you look exactly like Jackie Chan. And I’m like what, okay. This was completely unexpected. I didn’t say anything, but I’m like, I’m going to take this as a compliment. This is mind blowing for me. I remember the year before, “Fellowship of The Ring” comes out. Apparently some classmates think I look like Elijah Woods, so I’m, I get the nickname Frodo. And now I have this new friend here saying I look like Jackie Chan. So that’s interesting.
It does remind me that apparently the guard at our gated community thought our dad was Chinese. And so he, he referred to him as the Chinese console, which was certainly something interesting to say the least.
Fabian: You just shared so many crazy stories, hilarious moments, and it just goes to show you people live almost like in this little bubble. And then there’s this extra bubble that’s floating outside of their safe zone. And they’re like, well, what is this? And what did they know? They know Bruce Lee, they know the Kung Fu movies and they’re like, they know the rich Chinese, and that’s what they associate with. And it goes to show you that how much is all based on people’s previous experiences, knowledges and biases. Like that’s what, how they judged us and lived.
Alejandro: Right. And speaking of biases, I just remembered one other point I was going to add, was funnily enough, as they thought we were going to be the rich people, but when we were moving there, I knew we were going to basically a prep school as it was, a private, private school. So I was thinking that I was going to come across these snooty snobby sort of, well-to-do family, uh, uh, students from rich families in Jamaica. And it turns out they thought the same of us. So it’s kind of hilarious in retrospect, both sides had that preconceived notion.
Fabian: What did you think going from Mexico, U.S. Basically, Mexico is always like a 1.5 world country, they’re in the middle of like second world and first world, to be honest. And then you go to the U.S., which is a first world country, and then now you’re moving to Jamaica, which truthfully is a third world country. Even though we lived more like in a second level. As in, we had all the amenities, you know, water, food, all that stuff, electricity, internet, even if it was dial up, or whatever it was. Comment for another time, technology and the changing of that.
But curious to see how it was for you going from those things where, you know, in Colorado, we were considered okay. Above average, but we weren’t considered millionaires or super rich or snobby. And yes, my dad did get a promotion and a better position, but then you move to Jamaica and all of a sudden we are considered gods. We’re considered part of the elite, we’re considered in the same bubble as like those rich Chinese business owners that are millionaires. How was that experience? What are some of those takeaways that you had from all these crazy judgements and culture shocks of Jamaica?
Alejandro: Yes. I mean, yeah, I think it was certainly a time to sort of also reassess ourselves. Like you said, the perception of us being the elite versus our perception of ourselves as a sort of being your middle-class American family.
I remember that in one of the, um, I think it was the Independence Day celebration that our dad was overseeing. I’m pretty sure we had an appearance from the Prime Minister of Jamaica at the time. I’m pretty sure I shook hands with then Prime Minister, PJ Patterson, if I’m, not mistaken. So I mean, that just shows, like you said, the sort of circle that we were surrounded with. We were engaging with diplomats at these social events, that we had to interact with. Certainly a learning experience having to also deal with hosting and whatnot. These sort of obligations that you had, as a result. Which I wasn’t particularly keen on, I’ll be frank.
Fabian: Well, there’s a lot to be said about Jamaica, as evidence from all these stories. There was a lot of craziness and uniqueness. I do want to share a brief thing that kind of really summarizes how different it was.
Since I skipped a grade, I was in sixth grade and sixth grade is the most important year in Jamaica. It’s the end of elementary school.
Alejandro: Ohhh, that’s right.
Fabian: And you have to take a statewide exam called GSAT. Which they probably stole from SATs, but this GSAT determined which middle school or really high school, cause they kind of combined them into one, you were qualified or able to go to. So the better your grades on this exam, the better access you had. So you chose like three to four schools that you preferred and if you had good grades, basically every school had like a range. So they were like, we only accept students from 75 to 100. Or this school accepts students that get 25% on their SATs or GSAT, sorry, and so forth. So basically what this meant was if you failed this exam, and this is how they presented it to you as well, the teachers, if you failed this, your life is going to be essentially ruined because now you’re going to be only in schools that only have failures.
And to me, that’s shocked me because I’m like you’re creating a self fulfilling prophecy. If you surround yourself with only druggies and violent people and dumb people, you’re going to be dumber, more violent, and more prone to doing drugs. So I’m like, what are you guys doing? But at the same time, there’s something to be said about separating all the problematic people away from the others.
I mean, there’s a lot that can be discussed about that and we don’t have the time to get into it today, but it just blew my mind that this year had such importance in this country, it meant everything. The entire school year was basically just prepping for this exam. Like I remember all Christmas break and between Christmas and March, I think you took the exam in April, every day in school, we just took a practice exam or two.
And it got to the point where there was repeated questions on these exams. They had practice exams, the website, or they have books written and you could recognize it. They just change the numbers, but you kind of could tell. So they were like, well, what’s the percentage of this. Or, Hey, if this volcano did this and this and this, what would happen? Like you, you kind of knew what you were getting into and I could, it was multiple choice, so I could almost choose the answer without even reading the question. And that’s almost bad, but I mean, that’s just was the culture.
There also was, every year they chose a random subject. So some years it was math. Some years it was science, some years it was geography and Jamaican history. Which was a big part of the exam, learning which Jamaican athlete won the bronze medal at the Olympics in the 1970s or whatever, because it was such a big deal for them. They would test you on 9th or 10th grade science or math and you never were exposed to these or learn these things.
The year that I took it the test that was the ninth grade level was science. So they literally were like, okay guys, this year we’re doing ninth grade science. You’re like we’re in 6th grade, why are we doing ninth grade science? Like, it literally makes no sense, but it is what it is. And it’s a mind blowing thing. It’s just how the country was. It was very outdated. It was probably based on some British tradition or exam and that’s how they lived their life.
My parents were super nervous about it, but I think I was the 15th best student in the entire country or whatever, something like that, on the exam. And that’s really crazy because not only did I skip a year, but I did put in a lot of work. But it also, I didn’t really study a lot and it really started showing me who I was already at that time. I remember my mom will always tell the story that the day of the exam, everyone else is like reading a book hours before, in front of the classroom or in the big areas, like the basketball courts with their parents. And everyone’s like crying and worried. And I just looked at my mom, I’m like, you know, I probably should have studied a little more. Because I think I, other than what we did during class, but I mean, we’d practiced for months.
I maybe studied for like a week, literally. These people, like would pay tutors and everything and do it every day. And it was just crazy, but it made me realize that I was so confident at that time. Like I knew my stuff. I was confident. I knew I was good. And there’s something to be said about that.
And then that’s kind of where I really wanted to finish today’s episode is two things. One, is the question of uniqueness versus weirdness. We were so unique, we were weird for the locals, but did you embrace that? Kind of like, I feel like I really did. I just honed in on it at that point. It was still pretty fresh in all our moves. Like it was still early on in our moving career of our life. And I didn’t desperately try to fit in, I was still myself. I did respect the culture and I learned about it, but I didn’t really change who I was deep down. And I feel like that was great. I was very confident. I was me and it was, it was awesome. But kind of curious to hear your piece on that. Did you feel like you were unique? Do you feel like you desperately tried to fit in or did you feel like you would lost confidence because you were the weirdo?
Alejandro: I mean, certainly there was no avoiding that I was definitely going to be unique because of a number of life circumstances and appearance as well. On one hand, yes. I certainly was always myself. I had always my strong beliefs and convictions and I feel like as a result of that in my determination, hard work ethic, that I won the respect of a lot of my peers. Even some people that I first initially clashed with, then we ended up becoming friends. I remember one such classmate in particular. Over a book report, actually it was, we ended up finding some commonalities.
I do recall that there was some, to some extent, I think there was this idea of not wanting to stick out too much in one way. I remember that I think the teachers were trying to, uh, one of them was sort of complimenting me, as an example. As opposed to other members of the class. I think I remember commenting to a friend of mine that I think it was a little uncomfortable about it because I didn’t like having it called to attention that I was standing out in that way, compared to the others. That, I don’t know, that making them look bad in comparison. I think that that made me feel a bit uncomfortable. On one hand, of course I always wanted to, I was at the time, very much an overachiever and wanted to be the best I could, but at the same time, I also felt uncomfortable sort of putting the others in that position.
Fabian: That’s super interesting. You had this internal turmoil about, Hey, I enjoy this. I’m an overachiever. It’s good to get that acknowledgement. But at the same time, I don’t want to feel that way. So I’m curious because this was such a critical part of your identity and who you are and your confidence. You were tying so much to your self worth and your level of confidence to your success at school. So having these, I mean, you were surrounded by people that you probably were doing a lot better because you had different curriculum and you had teachers telling you that you’re doing well. Was that a confidence boost? Or did you almost like not want to be singled out? I know you had mentioned that a little bit. Or did it almost, was problematic because you already were so singled out because of your appearances and language and background that you were like, no, I don’t want that.
Alejandro: Certainly. Uh, I think there were really mixed feelings about it. I definitely appreciated the validation. As we have made the point in previous episodes that I put a lot of emphasis on excelling in school and that was my source of validation of who I was as a person. And yes, I guess with that contrast there, like you were saying. That was certainly something very interesting, especially now that I think about it. I mean, that put me in quite the quandary as I saw it. I mean, I don’t know if it was necessarily because I was concerned about bullying or anything on the matter. I know I certainly clashed with some people, though I did handle it rather tactfully.
And then there was a funny story. We were playing soccer and I accidentally did a sliding tackle and took down one of my bullies as a result, because of the muddy terrain. Everyone was really impressed because they’re like, Oh wow, look at Alejandro. He took down this giant of a guy with a sliding tackle. One time he was complaining about, I think some art class thing and my drawing. And I’m like, well, why are you wasting your time watching me do my art here if it’s so bad. I mean, you’re wasting your life doing this, you should have better things to do. I remember I had another classmate, a friend of mine, congratulate me on that one.
Yes, our American influence definitely stood out there with our English. I mean, there was the same language, but there was also these differences there with the accent. And it was really put in stark relief, just engaging with my classmates, with the people there. And of course, I really came to respect a lot of people, my teachers, my peers. There were many capable and intelligent people, let’s not forget that.
Fabian: Well, let’s go from there. Let’s start transitioning. Obviously Jamaica was a lot and we could talk about it for days and years. I mean, there was so much, it was such a big adventure and part of our lives, but I want to talk about the lessons, and if you had realized them when you were there.
So for example, for me, I would say Jamaica taught me change and adaptability. And that’s something that is going to be a common reoccurring theme throughout every single move and every single place, because every place taught me that and forced me to do that in different ways. Skipping a grade and learning to embrace this exam and being so religious and living in this sheltered gated community and only having family and et cetera, et cetera.
All those things taught a lot, but having to change and adapt and be a chameleon, yet fit in, but also, still be you in your own ways was huge. But at the same time, it was now looking back at it, Jamaica really not only humbled me, but what started the biggest turning point in me becoming a lot more cultured.
It was around this point where our family started traveling more internationally as well to other places other than Mexico and Germany. We had the opportunity to go to London and down the road, we went to Prague and things like that. We went to so many different countries and got to experience different life styles.
Living there is when you really get the feel for the country and the culture and just seeing how different they lived and that we could live live there. Yeah, we lived in our own little bubble, but it was never to the extreme that a lot of the diplomat and military kids do. Where they live in their own mansion, they go to the 5,000 a quarter school, where they only go to school with other diplomat kids and military kids where you’re living basically in the U.S., you know, In your own bubble. And we got to actually experience the culture, the locals, and live with them and embrace it. And I feel like that gave me so much, it humbled me to an extent.
While yes, I’ve always, and I still can gladly admit this, I’ve always had like this bougieness and eliteness to me and appreciation to quality and niceness and fanciness. It made me really like, I’m so glad I was exposed to that because it gave me like this respect for other cultures, other skin colors. From that point forward, I was confident that I never could ever be racist because you know what? I got to live with those people for a full year, a little over a year. You realize that, at the end of the day, they’re the same people. They’re just very different and they grew up differently.
So I would say, the lessons that I had from Jamaica were, it really started this change and adaptability to a next level because while Colorado and Mexico did that to me, this was so different and that humbleness and starting this major level or level up of being cultured.
So curious to see and hear your takeaways of the lessons. And then we will conclude with what’s coming up next.
Alejandro: Absolutely. Yes. Wow. I mean, once again, I completely agree. It was really our first exposure to a completely different culture and it was really something to learn, to have to adapt there. I mean, in Colorado, in Denver, at the school I was at previously, it was a brand new school, had state of the art tech at the time. And then like, Oh, go to Jamaica. I’m at this prestigious school, but at the same time, it’s we have this, um, all this wooden furniture here, there’s no air conditioning in my classroom. I’m doing assignments and exams while sweat is dripping down my body. I’m wearing this military style, khaki uniform. We are adapting to the language, to the culture. There’s so many different elements, all male school.
But like you said, this was such an incredible opportunity. I mean, especially once I had the chance to fully immerse myself in this. Honestly looking back, part of me actually regrets that I didn’t do more to try to appreciate the experience. To get more invested, say watch the local news more, as opposed to international news that we were doing. This was really something and not many people have that chance to experience it. And I think it really made quite a difference in learning to adapt to so many different variables that were at play and we had to move on and move forward.
Fabian: Well, I love that. I love that. So overall, you would say it was a positive experience. And if your one takeaway was that it forced you to adapt.
Alejandro: It did it really did.
Fabian: And it’s something that so many people need to hear today. Sometimes you just need that push, push come to shove. When today, for most Americans and people around the world, it’s the pandemic. It’s forcing people to change how they live and change everything that they think about the world and forcing them to adapt.
And luckily we had that experience because of having to live in very different situations and environments. And I feel like, yeah, this was still a challenging 12 or 14 months at this point pretty much, but it’s been, it was a lot easier for me than I know for a lot of people. And I would say a lot of that is in part to not only our life experience, but going to places like Jamaica.
Well, with that said, Alejandro. That was kind of a very in-depth look into Jamaica and that experience and the benefits and the negatives as well, of living in such a place. But overall, it was a very unique scenario. So what happened at this point? Like how long were we there? And what’s the cliffhanger for the audience?
Alejandro: Right, right, right. So it was interesting because normally with these diplomat postings, you’re there for maybe like say three or four years, usually. Give or take, depending on circumstances. As we established previously, Mexico was previously cut short because of my health reasons. So my dad requested a transfer to Littleton, Colorado. And then Jamaica curiously enough, we were only stationed there for one year. We will get more into the reasons why probably later on. But yeah, it was rather unexpected. I remember we were planning on going on vacation and then suddenly my dad comes, as you will become all too familiar with, and suddenly says, Hey, you know what, we’re moving again. It’s like, wait, what? We just moved here and you’ll never guess where we’re going to.
What’s interesting is that, when we were in Jamaica, there was a set curriculum for obviously the classes and one class that we had in my school was Spanish. So my relatively basic elementary Spanish, made me a superstar. I was in high demand to tell people out, and of course the Spanish teacher had high expectations of me. And I mean, I was riding that high of course, you can imagine. And I was thinking, Oh yeah, I’ve, I’ve got this, I’ve got this, which would eventually come back to haunt me very, very soon.
Fabian: That’s a perfect transition and you guys will find out next episode where we went. I will say the language piece is key because just to let you guys really think about this for a few days and hours, how would you feel if you never really knew what your first language was? Because whenever you moved somewhere else, you could kind of change what your first language is. You’re in Jamaica and all of a sudden it’s like, you’re an expert at Spanish, were you really? You didn’t really have a lot of Spanish schooling to be honest with you. And when you did, you had it at the very basic years, like the rest was just you had your parents’ exposure.
I mean, I just can relate to now, like how many friends in the U.S. that have a Spanish parent and their Spanglish and their Spanish grammar is atrocious. Really? Like they go somewhere, then they have to take Spanish classes, they would do terrible. So it was such an interesting perspective on it. We were viewed as we were Spanish experts and it was almost like our first language, but was it really?
Imagine if wherever you moved, you moved from this other country, to this new place, and now people expect you to be a god, just because of your background. That’s an interesting thing. When now you have to almost live up to expectations.
Alejandro: I agree.
Fabian: So with that said, I feel like this was an excellent episode, Alejandro. We should continue to self-reflect. I think all these conversations just bring back a lot of memories, a lot of positives, more so than negatives, which is the truth. Our life was amazing. It was an opportunity, it was an experience that most people would never have. The truth is that if I could do it again now would. Obviously some things I would love to change, but overall it made us stronger. It made us better. And there’s a lot here, guys, to unpack. I hope you guys loved it and appreciated it.
And with that said, please let us know what you guys think about everything you’ve heard. But really curious to hear your opinion on how would you have handled moving to a Caribbean Island, or some secluded place where you are literally the odd man out.
Think about if you went to a new school in a different state and everyone was the color red, like their skin was red, and you were blue. How would you feel? Would that make you want to fit in, would that make you want to change who you are, or would you feel confident because you were blue and you were better than everyone else? Let me know.
Well, Alejandro, thank you so much for joining me today. Guys, thanks so much for watching and tuning in. We will see you guys next time at Real Talk.