I could chalk it up to the pandemic, I suppose, and I suppose most will when they read this – it tanked economies and affected capital flow after all, as much as it created a global health crisis. But today I’m thinking about fractured (not broken) dreams.
In 2019, when CREATIVE SPACE was still online only, I wrote about my niece Nicoya Henry who had just won the Independence fashion design competition and most important to me a scholarship to go study fashion design.
Had it been up to me alone, and I did encourage her to do this, I wish she had put the foot on the gas, grabbed that scholarship, and jetted straight down the avenue of one of her dreams. Don’t wait! Maybe it was the me knowing how these things can be snatched away especially when it’s government sponsored, even when there’s not a pandemic to provide a credible excuse. Resource re-allocation, emergency re-prioritizing, all of this is very much a fallout of the pandemic and one girl, young woman, anxious to claim her promised ticket and get on with it is hardly a priority to anyone, save herself and the people like me who care about and want her (all my kids) to grasp their dreams.
Velonie (that’s what we call her in the family) has always been creative – (as an artist winning the Sidewalk Art Festival while in school , always with a new art piece to show to me) and always dreamed of working in fashion, first as a model (something she has pursued including competing in and coming very close to winning the Caribbean’s next top model – despite a former (Caribbean) Ms. Universe who was a key person in that production initially dismissing her as another ‘lazy Antiguan’ – whatever that means.
She has travelled to audition and model in the Caribbean and US, and knowing the odds, I still hoped.
See I’m a dreamer and an artist myself, and I know how crazy we sound with these impossible things we feel called to do. I won a scholarship to go to university – it wouldn’t have happened otherwise (and none of this dream chasing has been easy even with that). I have another niece who won a sports scholarship to university – I feel it was key to her being able to get her degree this year. We don’t have the resources to hand our progeny their dreams (that is rarified air), so I have tried to push them to work hard and look for avenues of opportunity. No one was happier than me when she was announced as the winner of that design competition that night because given that the prize was a scholarship to study at a fashion institute in Trinidad, it meant to me that she had found her avenue. But knowing how the system is set up I knew, I just knew, that even without the excuse of a pandemic, which none of us could have predicted, follow through was not guaranteed. It frustrates me that I have to be so sceptical of these things but I just turned 49 today and I’ve lived long enough in this paradigm to know how things stay. Velonie wanted to line certain things up before going forward and I get that but I kind of wish she had just gone for it then.
Because this BS about well, you know, we’ll have to see feels almost inevitable in retrospect. And, yes, I know we are in a pandemic and this is no one’s priority but hers but I hate to see things (possibly) snatched away, things promised (even in a world with no guarantees, especially if you’re not born with a silver spoon…anywhere in your house).
My latest communication from her on this is that everything remains (generously speaking) uncertain – it could still happen but well, we’ll see; so she’s adjusting her dreams and I get that. It makes sense. But I wish she could follow through on the opportunity this scholarship would – and (optimistically?) still could? – present to open up her world.
The dreams of a single girl (young woman) may not amount to a lot in the whole scheme of things but they matter. So I still hope that the scholarship that was promised is delivered. I have resisted saying anything publicly about this throughout but here it is I hope I am proven wrong and there is follow through on this. Because look at this potential.
Dress conceptualized, designed, made, and modelled by a young Antiguan and Barbudan hopeful who won a scholarship more than two years ago and has yet to be able to claim it.