random thoughts: on the wide world and why it matters

I remember having a conversation with someone a few years ago, mentioning how embarrassed I was that I really couldn't name all of the countries in Europe, or Africa, or even Asia.  "I mean, if you mentioned a country name, I can probably tell you what continent it was on," I continued to explain, "but if you asked me to sit here and name every country in, say, Asia* off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.  That's not good."

"I don't know," responded my friend.  "I mean, does it really matter?"

* * * * * * *

Yesterday, Alex and I attended the funeral of a close family friend, Uncle Roy.  Uncle Roy was from Grenada, and he and his Trinidadian wife were two of the first friends my family made when my dad came to work in Texas for the first time, as a young petroleum engineer in the late 60's.  As Alex and I walked into the funeral home, it was obvious that the congregation was filled with people from all over the world.  As a matter of fact, my father, who was asked to say a few words at the funeral, made a point of mentioning this:  that Uncle Roy's kindness to my mom and dad, as relatively new immigrants to the United States (informed, in part, by Uncle Roy's own immigration story), was one of the most vivid examples he knew of Uncle Roy's trademark generosity.  And everyone in the chapel nodded in knowing agreement.

Since returning home from the funeral, I've been thinking about how much immigration and emigration are such a huge part of my personal story.  If my great-grandfather hadn't immigrated to Trinidad from China and met his Asian/Amerindian wife, my paternal grandmother wouldn't have been born.  My paternal grandfather's story is similar, with the immigration of his Barbadian family to Trinidad.  On my mother's side, her people hail from countries including India and Martinique, before arriving in Trinidad.  My family immigrated to the United States -- several times.  And if I hadn't emigrated from the US to England for a couple of years, I would've never met my English/Irish husband Marcus, married, immigrated back to the United States and adopted our Latina daughter.  Just in my family, my immediate story is touched by at least 10 countries that I can count, and there are clearly more. ** 

And I haven't even begun counting friends.

Anyway, this means that by reading this blog, your story is now touched by a minimum of 10 countries.  And if you're from a country that I haven't mentioned above, simply by your being here, my story is touched by yours.  And if you've ever responded to each other in the comments, each of your and my stories are each touched by even more.  Then there are your own social circles -- not to mention Twitter, and Facebook, and ...

..."does it really matter"?

Well, I think it does.  The world is right here on our doorsteps.


*  Incidentally, if you're curious, here's an online quiz testing your knowledge of the countries of Africa, Asia, South America and even the Caribbean.  Let me know how you do!
**  As a black woman, I clearly am also of African descent; however, I unsurprisingly have no idea which or how many African countries are represented in my family.  And for what it's worth (because I suspect the question will arise), I self-identify as "black" and/or "West Indian."  It seems the broadest, most accurate description. :)

Karen Walrond20 Comments