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Six Questions People Ask Kittitians Living Abroad

MsDora grew up, received early education and taught school in the Caribbean. Read her love and pride of the region—people and place.

Saint Kitts and Nevis are sisters in a two-island Federation. For that reason, Kittitians (from Saint Kitts) and Nevisians (from Nevis) living abroad are considered fellow citizens of the same country. They are likely to be asked the same questions and to give similar answers.

Both the questions and the answers are intended to create a smile; not to poke fun at either the questioner or the responder. There is so much we all can learn from each other.

View (From Tourist Ship) of Basseterre, the Federation Capital

View (From Tourist Ship) of Basseterre, the Federation Capital

(1) Are you from Jamaica? I hear an accent.

Firstly, we’d prefer that you wait for us to answer when you ask where we’re from. We hate it when you make a wrong guess. It is important for you to know that everything Caribbean is not Jamaican.

You see, Caribbean islanders—like all other patriots—have native pride, and when you suggest that Jamaica (one of the Big Islands) is the only Caribbean island you know, and that you have never heard of our little islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, we feel compelled to tell you why we’d rather be Kittitians or Nevisians.

Secondly, we don’t want our accent to be the first thing we talk about. We recognize your accent too. We can guess whether you’re from New York or Louisiana in the United States, from Birmingham in England or from Johannesburg in South Africa. But we’d prefer to share a greeting and a common point of interest before we discuss the differences we hear.

(2) What language do you speak in Saint Kitts and Nevis?

In an English-speaking country, we’d wonder whether you ask that question because you find our English faulty; but we choose to take your interest at face value.

The official language of Saint Kitts and Nevis is English—the Queen’s English we like to say, since our grammar and word usage reflect the British influence in our school textbooks. Most of us can engage in our native dialect at will, and we do when we’re with other Caribbean friends; however, we speak Standard English effectively when we are in the presence of other company.

Shops at Port Zante (where tourists disembark) in Basseterre.

Shops at Port Zante (where tourists disembark) in Basseterre.

(3) Do you have stores (cars, roads, TV stations) like we have here?

We still do not have a McDonald's restaurant, but we have all the basic amenities which civilized nations have. We may have one where other nations have many, and we have smaller versions of the large versions other countries have.

We have shopping malls, though in most of them if you shout at one end, you can be heard at the other. We have roads, hard to see because they're so narrow when the latest models of vehicles are passing each other. We also have the latest electronic gadgets with services from two providers. Our White Pages Directory for Saint Kitts and Nevis total 79 pages, and our Yellow Pages have a total of 99; both White and Yellow come in one publication. We have it all—though in smaller amounts than most!

During February 2018, three traffic lights were installed in Basseterre, St.Kitts. According to the Minister of Transport, there were 30,000 vehicles on the island then and more have come since. We're making steady progress.

(4) Do you know (name of Kittitian)? He’s from Saint Kitts.

Or, do you know (name of Nevisian)? She’s from Nevis.

Some people ask Kittitians and Nevisians this question, fully expecting the answer to be “Yes.” They reason that on a small island, everyone meets in the marketplace. However, most people know that there’s a chance of the answer being,"No.” The latter group is wiser.

The population of Saint Kitts is around 40,000. The population of Nevis is around 12,000. The number is small compared to the population of most countries, but not small enough to guarantee that all the residents will meet, let alone that all would be acquaintances. People who live in large, spread-out and densely populated cities really do not understand the extent of small areas and small numbers. Small in comparison to what they know could still be too large to accommodate familiarity.

Sorry we do not know everyone on our islands; we don’t even know everyone in our extended families. How about you?

St. Kitts is located in the Eastern Caribbean Leeward Islands

St. Kitts is located in the Eastern Caribbean Leeward Islands

(5) Where are Saint Kitts and Nevis?

First, we have to make sure that the questioner is not asking for directions, because we have heard really strange questions from the geographically challenged. Like, “How long will it take us to drive from here (on another continent) to there?”

On a world map, because the islands are so small (68 square miles and 36 square miles, respectively) they would appear as tiny dots with not enough space to write their names; therefore a map of the Caribbean is the best visual aid for locating the islands. In conversation, without the availability of a map, we would be sure to say that the Caribbean islands lie between North and South America. (See Florida, USA, North America up at the top and Venezuela, South America below?) Saint Kitts and Nevis are in the eastern group of islands.

Saint Kitts is about 1,200 miles from Miami; 1,600 miles from New York; 4,000 miles from London and about 45 minutes by plane from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Ferry service from Saint Kitts to Nevis takes 45 minutes.

(6) So what made you leave your island to come here?

Usually, people ask Kittitians this question after we have talked with pride about our beautiful island and our friendly people. It might sound as if they’re suggesting that Saint Kitts couldn’t be the paradise we say it is, else we wouldn’t leave. Again, we take the question at face value.

Instead of the usual “I came here for college or university,” or “I came here because of the opportunities we have here to improve our lives,” these days we can say, “We came here for the same reason people from everywhere are coming to Saint Kitts.”

They come for vacation to enjoy life in a different part of the world. They come to visit relatives, some of whom they haven’t met before. They come for education at our institutions like International University for Graduate Studies, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and (not many) others. They come for business opportunities and for work they are qualified to do.

There are similar reasons that Kittitians have for traveling. There are even a few of them who travel just because they can afford to make the trip. Well, there are also a few who travel for medical attention. Hopefully, they would be spared the question.

© 2013 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 01, 2017:

Thanks Vashti. It means the world to me to have another Kittian enjoy my article. Keep smiling at the funny questions.

Vashti on May 26, 2017:

Hi Dora!

I'm a kittitian living in NYC and I found this article very funny because if it's accuracy in describing my personal experiences here. Very well written article. Thanks for shedding some light on this in such a skillful fashion.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 22, 2017:

Thanks Ashburne. Read more about him in my "Four Prominent People from Saint Kitts and Nevis."

Ashburne liburd on May 21, 2017:

The birth place of Alexander Hamilton ,the designer of the U.S. financial system and first sec. Of the treasury. (The man on your ten dollar bill) NEVISNICE!!!!!+

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on November 10, 2013:

Hezekiah, thank you for sharing. Caines is a popular family name in St. Kitts. I may even know some of your relatives. My regards to all from a fellow Kittitian (Isaac family name).

Hezekiah from Japan on November 10, 2013:

Interesting, my family came over here from St. Kitts to work (Father side). My father had 6 other siblings and they came in two's by ship over the course of some years. (My mother is Jamaican). We have the family name "Caines" so a lot of people recognize us as a St. Kitts family.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 03, 2013:

Kittitian, if you had fun, you must have answered in the right spirit. So proud of you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Kittitian on April 03, 2013:

I must have answered number one a thousand times. Had fun most of the times.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2013:

Linda, thanks for commenting. Really, as we travel we discover that people are affected differently by the same questions and comments; the more we share, the more we understand each other. You would love the islands, whichever one you come to. Don't delay too long.

Linda Compton from The Land of Enchantment on March 30, 2013:

Ms. Dora,

A very well done primer on some basic, and sadly needed, manners. I have some family history with Tortola. Would love to visit some day. L.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2013:

Rasta, the question makes me laugh too, but I also sympathize with the Barbadian who had to watch you laugh at his dilemma. The things we islanders put up with! Thanks for your input.

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on March 29, 2013:

I can relate to what you are saying in this hub. I had a roommate from Barbados in America. People kept asking him where in Jamaica is Barbados. He really did not like that because I would always laugh.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:

Vicki, I'm so happy that your daughter and son-in-law have a good story about Saint Kitts. So you identify with the "Do you know . . ." question. That can be funny. Thanks for sharing. I love your comment and agree with you that having no McDonalds is wonderful. Don't know how much longer.

Vickiw on March 28, 2013:

A little story. My daughter and her then fiancée, who is now my much-loved son-in-law started saving all their change every day a while before they married. They wanted to honeymoon in St. Kitts. One day my daughter called me and asked if I could help her go to the bank. I thought that was a bit strange, but of course agreed. Well, she had put all their money into rolls, and they had saved $3000.00! Needless to say, they had a lovely honeymoon, and absolutely love Saint Kitts!

I can't count the number of people I met on Malta who said they knew someone in Canada, and did I know this person! So it happens. Lovely, informative Hub, and wonderful that there is no McDonalds!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:

Thanks DDE. I'm happy when my readers find facts Saint Kitts interesting!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:

Hi Peg, glad that you agree with me about the accent. I'm not sure that it is an error; but for me, it's a preference. Thanks for your input.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 28, 2013:

I'm glad you said that about commenting on someone's accent, MsDora. That is a good point and I'm sure I have made this error in the past. You're so right that listening first would be a better approach.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 28, 2013:

Interesting facts here I certainly learned about something new in the Six Questions asked.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:

And Saint Kitts and Nevis are wonderful places to learn about. Thanks, Eric.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 28, 2013:

Thank you. Wonderful to learn.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:

Frank, glad you whichever concept you refer to. There's much to like about Kittitians and Nevisians. Thanks for your comment.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 28, 2013:

what an interesting hub MsDora.. but I like the concept.. thank you so much for sharing :) Bless you