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The Caribbean Islands are a hub of social media activity

By Senior Ariel Caraballo

With warm breezes, tropical weather and miles of beaches, the Caribbean Islands sound like a location that would be hard to leave. This could be why so many natives of the Caribbean Islands are sharing their views, traditions, and interests in current events through social media after relocating to different parts of the world.

Dr. Daina Nathaniel of the Knight School has focused some of her research on this trend. While watching a web-streamed showing of the Carnival celebration activities that take place in Trinidad, Dr. Nathaniel noticed constant incoming of comments on social media sites regarding the live event. Carnival is an important part of Trinidadian tradition, and therefore it should not be surprising that Caribbean natives around the world were buzzing around social media sites, sharing about the event.

Dr. Nathaniel earned her bachelor of arts in communication at Queens, graduating magna cum laude. She also earned a master of arts degree in communication from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in communication from The University of Florida. When asked what she enjoys doing in her free time, her immediate response was "What free time?"  She has varied interests that throughout the years have included fabric painting, making soap, and now, antiquing.  In addition to being a professor and taking time for her assorted hobbies, she also had her own business which she is hoping to start up again.  Her dessert business, Island Girl Spice, allows her to apply her baking talents.  As a communication scholar, she also spends a great deal of time researching for her Caribbean studies projects.

After realizing that sharing is occurring quite often via social media for Caribbean natives, particularly during Carnival, Dr. Nathaniel decided to research how social media plays a role in keeping the spirit of the Caribbean alive for those who no longer live there. Dr. Nathaniel explains the idea as "diaspora," or "leaving one's homeland and then finding ways to bring that homeland to new communities." This is a way to "try to recreate their home."  Dr. Daina Nathaniel decided to come to Queens from her home in San Fernando, Trinidad in 1996.  She is continually fascinated that social media is able to help people across the world experience diaspora. Through her research, Dr. Nathaniel observed people discussing food, joking around as though they were old friends, and speaking in their own dialect through social media. The main social media sites which play a part in this are Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Dr. Nathaniel took her current findings to the Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Curacao this past June. The Caribbean Studies Association is the premier academic association throughout the Caribbean Islands which Dr. Nathaniel is involved with. The conferences are held on a different island each year, and Dr. Nathaniel is looking forward to sharing more information about her ongoing social media studies at the 2012 conference which will be held on the island of Guadeloupe.

Ariel Caraballo is a senior at Queens University of Charlotte, and is majoring in Organizational Communication and Spanish. Ariel has had Dr. Daina Nathaniel for several classes, and traveled to Spain with her this past summer for her John Belk International Program trip.   

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