Meet Karl Bryan - Successful Jamaican By Birth - And Heart
Interview With Karl Bryan
by Wellesley || November 21, 2017
Perhaps like you, Karl (living in Canada) is an ardent subscriber to my website, but he has been pretty quiet in the background :-)
But that changed on October 29th when he sent me a note asking some questions.
The beautiful thing???.... I got to know him a bit more!
And I thought that you, and the rest of my readers, would love to meet him too - he has a very compelling story!
He accepted my invitation to an interview, and what a gem it was! Extremely enlightening, inspirational and, to be honest, quite emotional for me; especially his responses to question numbers 9, 10 and 11.
I think you'll love it. Here now is my special interview with Karl.
- Hi Karl, thanks so much for being with us today.
Please take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself, including where you grew up, family members, and indeed, anything else you'd like our readers to know about you or Jamaican connections.
My name is Karl G. Bryan and I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there until I was nine years of age when I joined my parents in London, England where I went to school.
After leaving school, I furthered my education by enrolling at Southgate Technical college and graduated with three GCE O levels in English Language, Literature and Geography, followed by one GCE A level in English Language.
I have four children, two girls and two boys and six grandchildren who all currently live in Canada. Even at a tender age I developed a passion for flying and aviation in general.
- You worked in the UK military right? What was the nature of your job?
And what would you say are some of your memorable moments?
To this end I joined the Royal Air Force after school and after basic training that lasted for six weeks I was sent to St Athans in South Wales for technical training.
My training was as an aircraft airframe technician which required detailed knowledge of the theory of flight, air frames, hydraulics, pneumatics, flight controls, gas systems, among other critical emergency systems.
I was eventually stationed with an air-to-air refuelling squadron attached to NATO forces whose job it was to refuel fighter aircraft and other tankers as we called them.
This duty took me to Europe, The Persian Gulf and the Far East. There were only three of these refueling squadrons in the RAF and in consequence one squadron was always travelling to fulfill the NATO commitments.
Travelling took me away from my family for months at a time and was difficult to adjust to. But it gave me many opportunities to see places and experience cultures that most people could never imagine.
As an example, I recall sitting in the desert in Bahrain sipping hot coffee with the local Bedouins and eating dried snake meat! Even now it is fresh in my mind as though it happened yesterday. I don't tell these things to many people as most refuse to believe me.
There were so many memorable moments some of which escape me at the moment. One of which was working on a Vulcan nuclear bomber which was being used as the test bed for extremely advanced and powerful engines that eventually powered the supersonic Concord aircraft. That one engine replaced the original four that the Vulcan was designed to operate with.
- You mentioned earlier that you are also well traveled. What exactly did you do? What are some of the countries you visited? Any learnings from any of them?
As a child my parents thought it was good for me to travel and I started from age 12 traveling with my parents and my school. This took me to Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Austria, Holland and Belgium.
My visits also took me to Cyprus, Gibralter, Spain, The Maldive Islands, Bahrain, Singapore and Malaya. There were other places but you get the idea. One thing that really stood out was how alike we all are regardless of language and customs. Even language is not a problem if you are able to speak with your hands.
- Is there anything you'd say that inspired you along the way Karl?
I have always been inspired by the basic intelligence of the common man especially the uneducated man. I recall an afternoon on Gan which is an island in the Maldives. A local fisherman with no schooling asked to see inside one of our aircraft.
Against the rules I took him and he sat in the captain's seat. He began asking very lucid questions about how the aircraft landing gear worked. I taught him in the space of one hour what it took me several days to learn back in my trade training.
He understood the theory of hydraulics, pneumatics and how they worked together. That experience will never leave me. He had never been to school, but he grasped the rudimentary principles.
- You live in Canada now? What do you do today.
I have lived in Canada for many years and am now retired and contemplating writing a book on my travels.
- What's next for you Karl? Do you still visit home?
For 12 years I worked in sales for a Caribbean airline and in those years visited my country Jamaica at least 200 times! (REALLY)
- What is your vision for Jamaica?
My vision for Jamaica is simply to have a country that I can continue to be proud of regardless of how we sometimes seem bent on self destruction. I would also want to see all of our children have access to all opportunities that are available.
- You'd consider yourself to be a part of the diaspora right? How do you think Jamaicans at home and abroad can engage each other more for the benefit of our beloved country.
Without a doubt I consider myself a part of the Jamaican diaspora. I am fortunate to be a citizen of three countries and when I look at my Jamaican passport I feel a sense of belonging that is very inspiring and uplifting.
On my many visits, as soon as I could see the coastline of the island, I felt at home, and I was home.
Jamaicans at home and abroad must and usually do recognize how much we all have in common regardless of where we reside. In my travels I have met Jamaicans in every country I visited and when asked where they are from they all smiled and said Jamaica.
Even having lived away for 50 years or more, they ALL considered themselves Jamaicans first.
- I would like your personal opinion. Friends have often advised me to leave Jamaican and try to make a life in Canada, US or the UK?
What advice would you give me personally, and the several other Jamaicans, particularly the youths, who may be considering migrating to a foreign country.
I have lived in the three countries you mentioned Wellesley and my advise to you and the youth is to get the education, training and experience that "foreign" can offer, but never forget where you were born and to try to give back to your motherland what she gave you.
I was once in Limmasol, a city in southern Cyprus and met a chap who owned a restaurant making Greek cuisine. His greatest ambition was to move his Greek wife and business to his real home, Jamaica. Of course he was a proud Jamaican.
- And now to my favourite question Karl, what in your opinion makes Jamaica special?
What makes Jamaica special apart from the music, food, and natural beauty is the pride we feel as Jamaicans for being Jamaican. We may live in other countries but as Jamaicans we have a centre that many people do not.
- Just before you go? Is there anything else you'd like to leave with me, my readers and Jamaicans in general?
Continue to be very proud of your heritage and protect our little piece of paradise.
- Wow, indeed. Thanks again Karl for sharing your time with us. Jamaicans at home, in the diaspora and all Jamaican enthusiasts across the globe appreciates this. Thanks my friend. All the best.
You believe me now right? Very real and inspirational. If you appreciate this interview, please share your feedback below on the comments button
Like Karl, do you have a story? Would you like to share? Just drop me a line
and let me know.
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