Warming hearts for Christmas

TT – Expressing who he is second-nature to steelpan aficionado Jaison O’Connor. Although he has lived in the United States for almost 20 of his 38 years, he is Trinidadian at his core.

When asked to do a video clip for a virtual Christmas card to brighten the spirits of staff members in Boston, O’Connor could only be himself. He showcased his T&T roots to colleagues and friends via the instrument for which he carries a deep love and respect, against a backdrop of glistening fallen snow. It ended up warming thousands of hearts on social media.

“Someone commented on social media why it took a foreigner to make our culture look good, but it’s far from. This is who I am. I’m a Trinidadian. You carry your culture where you go. This is who we are,” he explained to Guardian Media.

O’Connor, who manages the Florida offices for the Barbizon Lighting Company—a 73-year-old business which specialises in providing lighting for the entertainment industry, with clients like the World Trade Centre in New York and Disneyland—had to re-locate to Winchester, a suburb of Boston from Miami three months ago, with his family of four.

The entertainment industry has been hard-hit by the global pandemic, he noted, and many of his company’s employees had to be let go.

Currently the company’s regional sales manager for northeast and midwest USA, O’Connor said as the sole West Indian and one of the youngest in a leadership position at his company, in his message and Christmas carol on pan, he simply aimed to uplift the spirits of colleagues and employees who were all affected in one way or another by the scourge of COVID-19. It’s part of him representing his heritage in his new environment, said O’Connor, who has a small flag of T&T and a mini steel pan on his desk.

Read more