In 2014, having worked as a senior reporter at the STAR for several years under Nicole McDonald—now the prime minister's senior communications officer—I took myself away to pursue journalism-related studies in Canada. The urge to spread my wings had been overwhelming. On an almost daily basis, at various Toronto shopping malls or en route to classes or to parttime jobs, I engaged complete strangers in conversation. Sometimes their stories were uplifting, sometimes not. But always they offered lessons. I'd think to myself, Wow, that would make a great piece. And then I would recall the several effective features I'd written in my time at the STAR about friends whose lives had been cut short by total strangers; deprived people in need of a voice; official government policy in need of critical analysis. In short, even as I was pursuing studies in radio and TV broadcasting in Toronto, I missed home; missed the Saint Lucian atmosphere; missed writing what—but for the STAR— would've remained untold stories.
For much of the time I was away I stayed in touch with my former publisher (and mentor) Rick Wayne. Sometimes I put my life on the line by inviting him to critique items I'd written, although not for publication. He was always encouraging, generous with ideas about how particular pieces might be improved. Then I started emailing him weekly contributions to the STAR.
One winter morning, having submitted my latest piece about a desperate young man who had finally turned to the newspaper for assistance after the police refused to take seriously his persistently reported threats on his life (he was fatally shot days after my story was published), I rushed out of my Toronto apartment to catch the bus to classes. I have no doubt the intense cold contributed as much to my decision as did the recollection of that young man. From all I was reading about home, since my departure it seemed not much had changed for the better—particularly in terms of crime as well as the lame justice system. I felt an irresistible need to get back to my native sunshine to do what I loved best.
To cut an already lengthy recollection, come 2017 and here I am, in hardly the best of times, occupying the STAR editor's desk. I learned so much more while in Canada than what I had planned on. I learned to see as I had never seen before; I acquired new eyes, so to speak; new sensibilities.
Having observed overseas how well treated are the especially vulnerable by regular citizens and the authorities alike, my concern for our poor and deprived is greater than ever. Perhaps most importantly, I learned there was more to life than daily chasing a buck, as vital as that is in these harsh economic times! I truly am convinced I was born to write and that by writing what needs to be written about, I can help affect positive change. I hope readers of the STAR will have good reason to agree.
I am especially keen on teaching young people that often what we seek is right before our eyes, right here at home, albeit unseen. As Derek Walcott has espoused: in much the same way we train our minds and our bodies via special studies and gym classes, so we must train our eyes to recognise hidden or disguised opportunities.
Particularly in this age of fake news and convenient word definitions, I truly intend to stand by the STAR's motto: “Bringing the truth to light”. Needless to say, I look forward to your assistance in this regard.
Here's hoping your year has begun, as has mine, on an especially positive note!