Monique is an ambitious 28-year-old Graphics and Animation Specialist at Vistaprint Jamaica, a customer care company. Monique’s dream is to pursue a Graphic Design Degree at a University that offers theory and practical training. She has two brothers and one sister and she is the eldest child in her family. She is originally from Falmouth where she attended Westwood High School Jamaica. She then moved to Montego Bay to finish her high school education at Herbert Morrison Technical.

I am fascinated by the Westwood High School Uniform attire which included a Jippi-Jappa Hat (a beige, fine-textured straw hat). Can you share the history of the hat becoming a part of the School uniform?

Many schools back then that were founded use to wear hats. Westwood decided that it was important to maintain the tradition because they taught wearing the hat as a part of the uniform was unique.

Did you like wearing the hat?

Yes, I liked wearing the hat. It was also funny to see a person’s reaction to the hat, they were shocked and at the same time they liked it.

What is your favourite Jamaican dish?

I have two favourite dishes. Stew peas and white rice, Saltfish with yam, banana and sweet potato.

Do you have a non-Jamaican favourite dish?

Chinese cuisine. Mala Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

  • Listening to music, all genres of quality music.
  • Watching geographic explorer documentaries and learning about different cultures.
  • Watching Animal Planet and learning about the different animal species.

Okay, wow. I also enjoy doing the same things as well. It’s nice to know we have some things in common. Do you have a nickname?

Yes. Veteran.

How did you get your nickname and do you like it?

I got my Nickname from my aunt, I think it is because I am the eldest child. It has grown on me and yes I like it because it was given to me by my favourite aunt.

What is one of your most memorable moments?

My primary school graduation. I was extremely happy. My family was so excited and overjoyed. It was a really special moment for me.

Where would you like to travel to in the world?

I would like to experience different cultures and languages, so I would travel to Italy and France.

Can you remember an experience that puts a big smile on your face?

The first time I saw my baby sister when she was born.

What recent social problems are you passionate about?

The double standard in which men and women are supposed to manage their emotions. The Jamaica culture has taught our men not to express their feelings or show any emotions because this is seen as a sign of weakness. They will not seek therapy to help themselves because of the stigma attached to seeing a therapist. Our culture view therapy as a sign of weakness and also would say, ‘a mad man go therapy’.

Why are you passionate about this subject?

I am concerned about this because not managing your emotions can lead to violence in the home, the society and broken families.

What do you think is the solution to help men manage and express their emotions in a positive way?

Parenting is an important factor; the parents need to teach the young boys that it is okay to be emotional and to express their feelings. Government and mental health organizations should be vigorously promoting therapy as a part of the solution. They need to find ways to destigmatise the perception of seeking therapy.

I definitely agree with your views on this subject. Thank you Monique for making the time for this interview.

Overall, my interview with Monique was interesting and it gave me a chance to get to know her better. I admire the love and the closeness that she has with her family and the way they celebrated her success and was overjoyed at her primary school graduation, which was a memorable moment for Monique. I find her to be a humorous and down-to-earth person which made it easier for me to interview her. Monique shared that she didn’t like the etiquette class and thought that it was silly to be eating with a knife and fork during her school years at Westwood High. She indicated that she now sees the value of the practical skill she learnt because she is now able to eat with the knife and fork confidently. Monique also dreams of travelling to Italy and France and learn about their cultures. I am sure the etiquette skills learnt from Westwood High will come in handy on her travelling quest. I sincerely hope she gets to travel to these countries and have the time of her life while embracing and immersing herself in their cultures.