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Hotseat - Morenika Arrindell

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If you frequent Philipsburg Jubilee Library, then you've likely seen Morenika's face. Fun-loving, charming and sweet, she enjoys her role there as event coordinator. It turns out that she also has a musical side she enjoys sharing as well.

How would you describe yourself?

A lot of people don't know that I'm a joker. I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh. People who know me would tell you that my laughter is loud, infectious and contagious. I definitely get that from my mother, Monica.

What was it like growing up in St. Maarten?

When I was growing up, St. Maarten was a different kind of place. When I was younger, I lived in Cay Hill and South Reward and I remember riding my bike up and down Cay Hill with my friends and playing in the road with my cousins in South Reward...and it still had a real community feel. Neighbours really looked out for each other and everyone sort of knew everyone. Sometimes it feels like some of that is lost today. But growing up on St. Maarten was fun; there were lots of things to do: swimming, liturgical dance, singing with the Anbojoulettes and various choirs; it was great.

Where did you go to school?

I attended Christian Hillside School in St. Peters, then Milton Peters College in South Reward and then University of St. Martin in Philipsburg. I really loved going to school on St. Maarten, especially college, I think that is when I first really fell in love with learning; when I was at USM. Suddenly, I was exposed to things in new ways from fabulous teachers like Rhoda Arrindell, Edison, Judith Arndel, and Shujah Perepadan. Later, I attended the University of South Florida, which was a blast, but was also really expensive.

What drew you to your career?

Actually, someone close to me thought that this job would be a perfect one for me, because I am good at organizing and planning. So I took her word for it and applied for the position and was hired. On top of that, though, I was interested in working with an institution like Philipsburg Jubilee Library, because it's such a mainstay in people's lives and such a big part of the St. Maarten community. People of all ages use the library and I loved that my job would involve bringing more and more activities to the people through this venue.

What do you love most about your job?

I like that I get to work with different people and have all of these different experiences through the different events I help plan. I learn so much all the time. It's like college all over again. I like that I get a chance to chart the course of activities at the library and really create activities that the public can enjoy. I love that I get to see each project go from start to finish and grow a little more with each.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Singing background vocals for various local and international artists like Percy Rankins, Ziggy Rankin, One White Chick, Dion Gumbs, and Tanya Stephens; how many people get to do that? I even got the opportunity to sing backup on stage for almost all the calypsonians in 2012 for the Calypso Competition, which was amazing, because I feel like calypso has these incredible stories to tell about St. Maarten and St. Maarten people.

What do you do when you're not at work?

I work (laughs). I sing with my band "Level Three Band" at Sonesta Maho and Sonesta Great Bay. But when I really have down time, I stay home with my partner and our dogs, or go to the movies, or take a chill down at Driftwood Bar (which, by the way, has an amazing bartender named Tiffany) or Sunset Beach Bar. When I'm not at work, I like to relax and really take in my beautiful island by lounging at Loterie Farm or taking a ride around the island. Sometimes, St. Maarten gets so hectic that we forget that we live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) together for dinner, who would they be? What would you serve them to eat?

Audre Lorde, who was an Afro-American of Caribbean descent, feminist, lesbian, poet, mother and author. Chimamanda Adiche, who is this amazing Nigerian writer whose stories always leave you shocked and in awe; and Whitney Houston, because I really, really admire her music, even if she made a lot of bad decisions later on in her life.

I would start with Johnny cakes, codfish fritters and conch soup from Yvette's as appetizers, and then I would have my friend Tina over to cook her fabulous creamed salt fish, with rice and plantain; and my friend Joycie over to cook her crab and rice as main course. For dessert, I would end with slices of Red Velvet Cake from my friend Asha and Strawberry Cheesecake from my landlady Lucia. I would finish it all off with a shot of Grand Marnier while we sit and chat. My choices would allow my guests to see the real me; down home Caribbean.