Written by Alicia Fleming
As a Jamaican living in the US for many years, almost 2/3 of my life, there is always that underlined pressure to assimilate and forget all things Jamaican or put all traces of your Jamaican heritage in that basket underground called "I want to be like everybody else- everything American" Fortunately for me that has not been the case. However, for many Jamaicans (in their misguided sense of assimilation), to identify with their culture is to stick out like a sore thumb. However, thank God for those of us who wear our new found American pride simultaneously with our cultural rich Jamaican pride. Being a person that likes to travel and meet different people, I am truly overjoyed when I travel to some destination and I meet a fellow Jamaican.
This past summer, I traveled to Strasbourg, France. One day, on a break from classes and utilizing our time to explore the town of Strasbourg, my friends and I met a young man from Senegal, who told me that one of his good friends was a Jamaican named Lance who had arrived in Strasbourg about 3 months before. I thought to myself "Wow! Even in a little town like Strasbourg, I am able to find a Jamaican!" When I met Lance, he proudly informed me that the summer before there had been 5 Jamaican teaching students in Strasbourg on a teacher exchange program. He said that they were part of a bigger group of 112 Jamaicans who were in France for this teacher exchange program. Jamaicans have this innate ability to transform whatever atmosphere or environment they find themselves in. As I explored Strasbourg, whether I was the only Jamaican or with Lance and my fellow students, the Francophones from countries such as Morocco, Senegal or Ivory Coast, were always drawn to us with such camaraderie more so than my white counterparts. As a Jamaican, I had the cultural flavor that reminded them of their own flavor and cultural heritage existing in the European community.