|Alia’s Bio: Born in the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica, Alia Graneau is one of the few remaining indigenous people, the Kalinago, best known as Caribs for whom the Caribbean is named. Having grown up in the impoverished Kalinago Territories, Alia seeks to find a better life through education and hopes someday to be a world renowned journalist. She is determined to let nothing and no one stand in the way of achieving her dream; not even the category-five Hurricane Harriet that devastates her island, demolishes her home and destroys her place of work. That is until she meets American party animal, Kyle Robinson…|
Jeanine: I’m here with Alia Graneau, sitting outside of her great aunt’s home in Silver Lake in the Caribbean Island of Dominica. The home currently has tarp covering parts where the roof was destroyed in Hurricane Harriet. Many of the homes around this small hamlet have been destroyed and a few are just being rebuilt as part of the recovery efforts.
Alia, describe yourself. What is your worst and best quality?
Alia: That’s a tough question. Hmmm, let me see. My worst quality… I don’t trust people that much. Not sure why. Maybe it has to do with my father’s untimely disappearance when I was still a child, or maybe seeing my sisters’ dreams derailed by men they love, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because I always have to work harder than most to achieve what I want. As for my best quality, it’s tough choosing one (smiling). I guess one of my best qualities is that I get things done that I set out to do. I’m pretty focused and organized and if I set my mind to do something, I will do it against all odds.
Jeanine: What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
Alia: Beyond my external beauty and my stoic exterior is a very caring loving person. Even though I’ve been in multiple beauty pageants and even won a few, I simply hate it when people refer to me as a model, a beauty queen or address me as Miss Dominica or Miss DA or anything related to pageants or modeling. It seems so superficial and doesn’t embody my personality.
Jeanine: What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
Alia: (chuckling) If I tell you, it won’t be a secret any more, would it?
Jeanine: What are you most afraid of?
Alia: Uncertainty. Kyle has been asking me to come back to the United States with him. I wish the decision was that easy. Even though my country is in chaos, even though I no longer have a home or a job and I really want to be with Kyle, I don’t know what life will be like in the States. What if his family doesn’t like me? What if I can’t find a job or be independent? What if I’m just a passing fancy? Even worse, I’m really afraid that Kyle will go back to his womanizing ways and I will be stranded in a strange country alone with a broken heart. Moreover, Tanti, my aunt who helped raised me is old and frail and living alone in a partially destroyed house. What would become of her if I leave? The what-ifs are killing me.
Jeanine: What do you want more than anything?
Alia: (Shaking her head and smiling). If you asked me this a month ago, I would immediately answer: to be a world class journalist. Now, that Kyle’s in the picture, I really want to be with Kyle, but I still want to be a journalist. Gosh I hope I don’t have to choose between the two.
Jeanine: What is your relationship status?
Jeanine: That’s not a hard question, why the laughter?
Alia: (Smiles and shakes her head while blushing). What’s my relationship status? (clucks tongue and looks up to the sky). Do I have to answer that question? I’m definitely in love. But if Kyle goes back to the U.S. and I stay here… you see my dilemma? I guess committed… for now.
Jeanine: How would you describe your sense of fashion?
Alia: Before or after the hurricane?
Alia: I have always had a rather contemporary chic sense of fashion. Though I enjoy dressing elegantly, I much prefer shorts and t-shirts. But as you can see from how I’m dressed currently, with the hurricane destroying just about everything, my attire now comes from a barrel of second-hand clothes. But I rock the ’80s and ’90s style really well, don’t you think?
Jeanine: Yes you do. That ‘80s style lap skirt looks very chic on you. How much of a rebel are you?
Alia: To be honest, I’m not much of a rebel unless I see unfairness or oppression. Then the rebel comes out.
Jeanine: What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
Alia: One of the things I’m very proud of is achieving my Associates degree at the State College. It’s probably not a big deal for people living in the capital of this island, but for me, it meant leaving my family back in the Kalinago territories and moving into the capital city of Roseau. And I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals. But all that pales in comparison to what I’ve achieved here in the last few weeks. My single greatest achievement has been working with Kyle to rebuild our community that was destroyed by Hurricane Harriet just a few weeks ago. We still have a long way to go, but we’ll get there.
Jeanine: What is your idea of happiness?
Alia: (smiles) Finding love. When you’ve found love, you’ve found home.
Jeanine: What is your current state of mind?
Alia: Right now I’m ambivalent. I really want to be with Kyle. I really would like to go with him wherever he goes. But I want to stay here with my people, with my country and rebuild it. They need me and I really don’t know what to do. I’m torn.
Jeanine: What is your most treasured possession?
Alia: This may sound trivial, but my most treasured possession is a photo of my father and me on his fishing boat when I was seven. A year later his boat disappeared with him.
Jeanine: What is your greatest regret?
Alia: I try not to live with regrets. I could say that I regret that Hurricane Harriet has derailed my plans for attending university, a first step to achieving my career goals, but if not for the hurricane, I would not have met Kyle and known such wonderful… you know what I mean.(smiling coyly).
Jeanine: What is the quality you most like in a man?
Alia: I like a man that respects a woman enough to allow her to be herself, to soar, to rise to the pinnacle of her career without impediment.
Jeanine: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Alia: Humility and graciousness.
Jeanine: Which living person do you most admire?
Alia: My aunt, Tanti. She’s ninety-two years old and very independent and very wise. I know I can always count on her for comfort, for great advice and to listen to even my most trivial problems. Right now she is my anchor in this whole tumult. She saw something special in Kyle when I’ve doubted his intentions and his feelings, and goodness me, I hope she’s right. She sees beyond the superficial. I hope when I grow old I can be just like her.
Jeanine: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Alia: (finger under chin, deep in thought) I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all part of me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Jeanine: What is your motto?
Alia: Don’t let anyone define who you are. Regardless of where you start, dream big, aim high, reach far, work hard and you can achieve your dream.