Today most families including mine are having their children abroad especially in United States. (By the way, it is not just Turks and Caicos Islanders doing this, residents from other countries that live in TCI are doing the same thing).
At the end of the day, it is people’s business where they have their children. That is a personal decision as there are many reasons why people opt to have their children abroad. The birth place of an individual should not determine one’s patriotism. I know many individuals who were born abroad to TCI parents and are very patriotic to TCI. Ironically, I know there are persons who were born in TCI to TCI parents who are also not patriotic. However, there are quite a number of parents having children abroad who are not instilling patriotism to TCI in their children.
I admire persons who left TCI many years ago and continue to be patriotic to TCI. It bothers me when people who were born outside of TCI to TCI parents and live here most of their lives still do not consider themselves Turks and Caicos Islanders. Therefore, the question is, how do we plan to prepare the next generation to be patriotic to TCI. I believe we must instill a sense of patriotism into our children. Otherwise our next generation may not see any benefit of being patriotic to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Starts at Home
I believe patriotism should start at home. As parents we must set an example for our children and instill the love of TCI in them. In United States of America, when a child is born, that child is automatically a citizen of the USA. Some parents brag about how their children are Americans and never refer to their children as Turks and Caicos Islanders. Yes, they are United States Citizens but they are also Turks and Caicos Islanders.
Some of us are complaining about others coming here and taking over but yet some of us are not promoting patriotism to our own. There are too many examples I can share.
I recalled a parent whose child was born in the USA and the child was not behaving well. The parent remarked and said “Oh that child cannot help it, that child is American” I was shocked. That child was only born in USA but never lived there so how can his behavior be adapted from America.
Another example is a national dish school event, a parent did not give that child a Turks and Caicos dish, a parent provided that child with a fast food dish from America saying that child is an American.
There are some parents who have yet to get a Turks and Caicos passport or British passport for that child. That child only has the American passport. Perhaps some may argue that there is no need but let us instill a sense of pride in TCI.
I recalled another parent saying her children cried when she told them she was getting them Turks and Caicos passports.
Friends, the future of our country is in trouble if we continue on this trend. Let our children be proud to be Turks and Caicos Islanders even if they have dual citizenship.
National Heritage Month is coming up in October and all of us should participate in the activity having a sense of pride in the Turks and Caicos Islands by wearing our national costumes.
Curriculum in the School
I never lived in the Bahamas but I have siblings and of course nieces and nephews there. Based on what I gathered, these children are taught in the school and home a love for the Bahamas.
We must do the same thing in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Patriotism for Turks and Caicos should be in the Curriculum at all schools, private and public. We must also have Turks and Caicos Cultural Studies in our school. It is really amazing how other events such as Halloween is being promoted in TCI but our local culture is not.
During National Hero’s Day and National Heritage Month, it should be mandatory for every school in TCI to participate in these events raising the Turks and Caicos Flag and wearing the Turks and Caicos National Costumes. There is no point in making these days holidays if we are not going to honour and celebrate them.
Despite our small numbers, let us keep our culture alive by living it everyday at home and at school. Teach our culture and history to those that want to reside here.
Some Great Reminders
TCI had a number of men that served in World War 1 and Word War 2.
TCI had men that served along with the British in the Palestine Army.
TCI had men serving as ship captains.
TCI had men as merchant marines who provided supplies to the arm.
TCI had men in Vietnam delivery supplies.
TCI partially funded the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Caicos which was used in the North Sea.
The salt that was produced in TCI was considered the best quality. In fact, the first President of US always requested salt from TCI. Our salt was also shipped to Japan.
John Glen the first American to orbit the Earth landed near Grand Turk in 1962
The Turks and Caicos Islands were the first place that Christopher Columbus came to in 1492
One of the first set of Students at UWI was from TCI.
JAGS McCartney, our first leader who fought so hard for the rights of Turks and Caicos Islanders.
Trevor Ariza plays in the NBA and his parents are from TCI even though he was born in the USA.
Billy Forbes plays soccer in the United Soccer League.
For the past few years, our beaches have been named as the best beaches in the World.
I know there is more but the above are just some examples of what we need to teach in our schools.
Some may not see this as an issue but I believe if we do not do something about promoting patriotism, the passion for TCI by the next generation will die. One of the primary benefits of patriotism is an increased care and love of our country. If we are not patriotic we may not care what is going on and as a result people will continue to do what they want to do such as the building of shanty towns. If we care, we will not only speak out against it, we will do something about.
We must ensure that our next generation of politicians have passion for TCI. Some of us do not want to be patriotic to TCI but we want all the benefits such as scholarship and the dual citizenship with the UK/TCI.
Let us instill patriotism at home and at school in the few of us that remain.