Thanks to all those who have been assuring me that they enjoy reading this newsletter. If you have any ideas for topics for the future, then I would be happy to hear about them.
Recently, I was at a breakfast technical presentation and the gentleman sitting next to me turned out to be an American working in Trinidad. As I started to eat my eggs and buljhol, he said “Buen provecho”. When he saw my puzzled look, he translated “Bon appetite!”.
First of all, I was ashamed that I didn’t understand such a simple Spanish expression, and secondly, it’s ironic that the English translation was actually a French one. Thirdly, how come an American can speak Spanish and I can’t, and I grew up and live in a country just 7 miles from South America? The reason, of course, is that he does business with South America.
The odd thing is that CRS also does business with South America. We have an international client doing work in Trinidad and our client contacts live in Brazil. I know, they speak Portuguese, but they can also speak Spanish and English.
From time to time, we are asked to source Spanish speaking I.T. professionals to work in Trinidad and be able to communicate with regional head offices in South America or the Dominican Republic, and that combination of skills has been virtually impossible to find here in Trinidad.
Globalisation is already here as large multi-national companies lump the Caribbean with Latin America rather than English-speaking North America. We’re more comfortable shopping in Miami or visiting relatives in Toronto, than traveling to our much closer neighbours like Venezuela, because of the difficulty of the language barrier. Yet, many of the bars and gyms in Port of Spain (note the irony of our capital city’s name) are full of Spanish speaking people, mainly from Venezuela.
Years ago, I was playing a game of “Trivial Pursuit” in Tobago with some visiting English friends. The question was “What is the official language spoken in Trinidad & Tobago?”. To my amazement, my friends answered “Spanish”. Maybe I don’t pronounce my words well enough for them to think that English is my first language? Actually, they were misled by the fact that our country has a Spanish name … another irony.
So, I’m very pleased that the T&T government has a plan to establish “Spanish As First Foreign Language”. The SAFFL initiative is designed to help our nation become proficient in Spanish within the next 10 to 15 years.
This will make my job much easier when sourcing people for my Latin American clients, and we may get more such clients as a result. Also, some of our local clients are already expanding to Latin America and I’m sure the demand for Spanish as a pre-requisite for good I.T. jobs will escalate as a result, together with the opportunities to work abroad.
So, think about enrolling in a Spanish language class. You can find them at UWI, NIHERST, the Venezuelan Embassy and many private institutions in T&T. Some companies are also introducing training for employees to learn business and conversational Spanish.
Hasta La Vista!
Tell Us What You Think
Letters to the Editor:
(replying to last month’s letters)
My experience has been that a lot of Trinidadians while willing to do a lot of work are more interested in doing all that work at their own pace.
They are quite capable of working hard, and will work extremely long hours, but it seems as though they are more willing to do this if their senior management is interested (or feigns interest) and/or willing to work the long hours alongside them as well…
It amounts to management implementing a “do as I do” attitude and not a “do as I say…” and most Trinis are generally the questioning sort. Why should they change their methods or getting stuff done if their own methods were achieving the desired results? It’s a Trini thing that unless you are really good with marketing of your change…you will have problems with … Shelly-Anne
Is this the difference between Trinis (and other Caribbean people) and Europeans or North Americans … we question our supervisors rather than just accept instructions? ….. Ed.
We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.