My Montserrat: Linda Dias
After being awarded a prestigious Chevening Scholarship, talented architect Linda Dias left Montserrat to pursue a Master of Arts in Architecture, Cultural Identity & Globalisation at the University of Westminster in London.
She returned to her beloved homeland in 2014 with the goal of contributing to the redevelopment of the island. Linda now works as the chief architect and head of the Architectural Section in the Ministry of Communications, Works, & Labour in Montserrat. She also runs her own architectural firm Aeon Studios Ltd.
No two people experience life on Montserrat in quite the same way. Let’s find out a little bit more about Linda’s Montserrat.
Describe Montserrat in three words.
Resilient, unblemished, community-driven.
Which area are you from?
I’m originally from Richmond Hill (pre-volcano Montserrat), but I’ve been living in Lookout in the north of the island since 1999.
What is your favourite traditional dish?
Goat water, without a doubt.
How did living abroad change your view of Montserrat?
I was able to gain a greater appreciation for the community-driven nature of the island. I also realised that the carefree nature of Montserrat has both upsides and downsides.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Climbing the three mango trees in my backyard in Richmond Hill.
What was your favourite subject in high school?
I had two favourite subjects. The first is technical drawing, because I had a love for geometry, precision, and rigidity. And I enjoyed visual arts because both the content of the subject and the atmosphere of the classroom was the exact opposite of technical drawing. I loved the contrast between the two subjects.
Did any particular teacher make an impact on you?
Growing up, there’s always been a teacher at every level who’s left an impression on me and who’s inspired me. Specifically, at secondary level, this teacher was the creative Chadd Cumberbatch, and then, at undergraduate level it was the pragmatic Dr Rohan Bailey. The one thing that they’ve all had in common was the fact that they all had a love for their field that was beyond the scope of work.
They would always inspire you to think beyond the realm of the possible and push to innovate, create, and change the way we perceive certain things in life.
Which local activist/personality do you admire the most, and why?
Nerissa Golden. She’s a well-known media strategist on the island who’s incredibly driven. She’s never afraid to try new things and step out of her comfort zone. She’s inspired me a lot to develop my design firm, Aeon Studios Ltd. into what it’s become today.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Olveston House. The food is amazing, it’s a laid-back environment, and it was ranked third on a list of the ‘Top 10 Restaurants in the Caribbean’, according to USA Today. Plus, they have the most amazing cheesecakes on the face of the planet.
Where would you recommend as a ‘must go’ to a first time visitor to Montserrat?
The abandoned Montserrat Springs Hotel in Richmond Hill. The view onto the abandoned capital city of Plymouth is mind-blowing. It’s eerie to imagine that the vast expanse of land that’s now covered by vegetation was once the urban centre of the island.
Where do you go to kick back and relax with family and friends?
My salvation over the past couple of years has been attending Rotary Club meetings. It’s a great group of like-minded professionals who are equally as interested in the betterment of the island and community.
What’s your favourite local expression/proverb?
“Aya me barn!”
You’re planning your perfect day out. Tell me about it.
I love comic books, superheroes, and video games and my perfect day would probably involve me visiting a theme park or taking part in Comic-Con, or a gaming convention.
What major developments would you like to see happen in Montserrat in the next 20 years?
I’d love for Montserrat to realise that our small land mass and population size can work to our benefit, more than to our detriment.
Right now we’re working towards improving our access to the island via developing a new breakwater and port facility, as well as venturing into sustainable energy via geothermal and solar.
I’d love for the island to focus more on integrating technology into our community so we can further develop in that sector. I’d also love more street rejuvenation projects that would integrate more formal and informal social spaces. And pretty much enhance the interactions within our community.