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That diplomatic dance

Monday, May 18, 2015
Sidelle Wooding

My name is Sidelle Wooding and I want to be a career diplomat.

I was raised Catholic and still go to church on Sunday mornings. I do believe in Jesus. I have friends who are Islamic, mixed backgrounds, Buddhist, atheists. Once you believe in good, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to fight down anybody.

I wouldn’t say I grew up “in need.” I went to the International School of Port-of-Spain. So I experienced being among people who came from all over the world, different backgrounds. That’s where I first got my interest in doing things in an international community.

I played tennis, did swimming in the morning, then school, then dance in the evening. Some evenings it would be music, then dance. Dance kinda dominated in the end.

I wouldn't say I was rich. I’d say I was “normal.” My mother worked in admin at the International School. So we went there for free. I was not on the level (most students there) were at!

The International School was more than just books. Not everybody learns by books. There are more Trinidadians now because they opened it up to form six students who got 1s and 2s, who got scholarships. To do grades 11 and 12. So we started to get a great influx of T&T students. Before that, it was mainly expats. And the wealthier Trinidadians. The Abouds, the Sabgas, the De La Bastides. The more expensive names.

I got through to all the North American universities I applied to—I  graduated with 98 per cent overall – but  their scholarships would basically just buy food. So I went to UWI. I honestly don’t believe in starting off working life in debt! I wouldn’t put my parents through that struggle when I could get a degree right here!

I grew up listening to classical music, because I did ballet. I went up to “advanced one.” “Advanced two” is the last class. After that, you can teach.

I dance with Metamorphosis Dance Company and with Karma, Ravi B and Nisha B’s band. People wouldn’t realise but we perform in as much fetes as Machel. Since Ravi B changed his image and the band has a more mixed background, he’s got a lot more respect from different fields, not just that one community.

This year would be eight years my boyfriend John and I have been together. People make a big joke about it, saying we must be on our second child by now. We met when I was about 16 and in the church choir.

I told John I want to get married in Barbados. I’ve already looked up churches. The big cathedral one. Either that, or a cute-looking cabin on a beach wedding. I want to have four or five children of my own. And adopt two. John’s on the same page, thankfully.

I did my international relations degree at St Augustine but want to do my master’s at the Institute of International Relations. I do want to be an ambassador but, right now, I want to be more of a field worker. I’m the kind of person who will help build an old people’s home. Not the type to sit down and call out, “You! Get the bricks! You! Get the cement!” I want to know that I helped by me actually doing it. I would want to find ways to feed children, not just in Trinidad & Tobago, but all countries. There are so many children who go hungry every day.

The best thing about being a career diplomat would be seeing the world. The bad part would be if I had a family. They’d get accustomed to one spot and then have to uproot.

A Trini, to me, is a calaloo. I love that I come from a mixed background. My mother’s mother is French, my mother’s father is African, he came from Tobago, my father’s father is English, that’s the Wooding, his mother is Spanish. So I’m a big blend of that. In other words, in Trinidad, I’m a Reds.
Trinidad & Tobago is my roots. Growing up here and being able to experience different religions, when I travel, I’ll have more understanding of them.

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