Passion

Dominicans rate among the happiest people on Earth, repeatedly. This is somewhat puzzling to us Peace Corps when we live there. Dominica is an amazing place and it’s people are warm and friendly but I would not go so far as to say that they look ‘happy’, as it were.

I think it’s more a question of attitude, which is clear in the language. They are forever saying ‘if life spare’, ‘God willing’, ‘that’s life’ … there is a detachment, a lack of feeling implicated and a total acceptance of fate.

They always regarded my passion and my emotions with bewilderment and with general disapproval. But I have always believed that if you want to you can do anything, that your life is what you make of it.

Anyway, this picture is one of the few where you will see passion on a Dominican face. This is a young woman in the throws of bele dancing at the Grand Bay finals last year.

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3 thoughts on “Passion

  1. Hello Ellamr,

    Thank you for posting these photos of Dominica on the web. I am happy that your encounter with the ‘Dominican experience’ was one of interest to you. I say experience for to live in a another country begs for an experience, an experience of what you claim to be a people with ‘little passion’. Yet in many of your photos of scenes from DOminica, I see passion. You seem to to merge passion and emotion together to describe yourself. Maybe you are right, they maye be linked but I tend to see them as two different categories.

    I am a Dominican by birth I do not partcularly agree that Dominicans are the happiest people on earth for the simply reason that politicians abuse this statement to accomplish thier own goals. You also seem to run into “absolutes”. For example “They are forever saying”, and “they always regarded my passsion.” You seem to give the impression that Dominicans are a people who are moved by “fate”. To quote you “a total acceptance of fate”; again the absolutism in your article.

    It is true that many Dominicans use the phrases that you have rightly heard. However, to come to this interpretation of yours can be presumptious. You would have to do a clinical study to verify your interpretations. I have never interpreted theses phrases as a complete acceptance of fate or detachment form the real. On the contrary, I think to use “these phrases” is a question of accepting the things that cannot be changed, while embracing those that can be changed. It would have brought a broader sense of equilibrium to your article had you described what motivates Dominincas to “go forward”; for example Marcia Baptist without a corporate sponsor still pursuing successfully her goals. Was it a matter of fate, she would have given up?

    Dominca’s history of slave “maroon” “negres maron” is an example of a people who took the challenges in their own hands and fought a system of colonialism. I have never been taugh to accept fate as the end. I have always been taught to work hard, to excell and to move on.

    I thank you for this article, but I do question your interreptation and conclusions. It is very complicated when two cultures encounter each other. It takes tiime to understand other peoples. it takes time to withdraw from our own cultural experiences to enter, understand and be slow to come to interpretations of others. It takes time….

    I respect fully your experience in Domininca as being authentic. However, I think some of your conclusions may have been too quickly done.

  2. Viny
    Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate what you said. My answer will be posted as “nothing is black or white… everything is shades of grey”.
    Ella

  3. Hello Ella,

    I am moved by your humility. However please continue your reflection (on Dominica) or otherwise. I have to credit you for giving me the opportunity to reflect on some of the “customs” of Dominicans.

    Best regards,
    Viny

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