Virtual Convent girl

Brooke Chong-Ashing has started form two at St Joseph’s Convent without ever going into school for a full school year in form one.  - Mark Lyndersay
Brooke Chong-Ashing has started form two at St Joseph’s Convent without ever going into school for a full school year in form one. - Mark Lyndersay


My name is Brooke Chong-Ashing and I just started form two at St Joseph’s Convent without ever going into school for my full school year in form one.

I have two brothers, one older, one younger, so I’m the middle child.

My brother Luke is 14 and Marc is seven.

My dad is Andre and my mom is Lauralee.

I’m fortunate enough to grow up with all my grandparents, Granny June and Papa Mervyn and Granny Patsy and Papa Winston.

It’s good being the only girl. That makes things easy.

I am Catholic. I did first communion and Mom signed me up for confirmation. I haven’t started classes yet but, based off the stories Luke has told me, confirmation isn’t really that big of a party.

Before we went into lockdown, I had thought, “It’s going to be fine, surely we’ll get SEA done before covid comes to Trinidad.”

But, lo and behold, we ended up doing SEA on 20 August instead of 2 April.

Part of me was glad for the extra practice but the other part of me was kind of freaking out because now I had that much longer until the exam!

I read a lot of fantasy. It’s very interesting to read about another world that could coexist with ours.

I can’t really say what age I really started reading a lot.

But my grandma was cleaning out a while ago and she found a folder of stories I’d written, in
horrible handwriting, when I was, like, four.

I used to have fish as pets because Mom wouldn’t let me get anything else. I don’t have fish any more.

Brooke Chong-Ashing is considering a career as a physiotherapist or a sport career in sailing. Chong-Ashing is a form two student at St Joseph Convent. - Mark Lyndersay

If I could twist my mom’s arm now, I’d get either a hamster or a dog. Dogs are fluffy and cute.

I’m definitely going to continue reading. I’ve read the Trinidadian books on the school booklist.

And a couple my mom got me here and there, but I can’t really remember specific titles.

The SEA exam day was a lot more calm than I thought it would be because I went into it and, on the morning, we were just in the courtyard like any other day.

And then we went up into the exam. We sat down and we did it and then we did the creative writing.

Right after, I do remember we made jokes about how badly we thought we’d done and that was it.

But I passed for my first choice.

My mom went to SJC before I did and she told me about her experiences there and I was, like, “That’s cool! I want to go there!”

But then, as I matured in standard five, I was like, “Okay, this is important!”

So then I wanted to get into SJC because I realised it would be good for my education. I researched a bunch about the school clubs, because my friend’s sister was actually head girl of SJC.

I wanted to dance. I was going to try dragon boat. Maybe cheerleading. Maybe hockey. Just kinda like stick my hand in everything, one at a time.

But none of that has happened.

I am in guitar club, though, because that is one I can do online.

A while ago, I got really into Hamilton. I know the soundtrack by heart.

I much prefer old-school Trinidadian music. Like calypsoes from 2016. Old school.

I’ve been at St Joseph’s Convent for over a year now and I’ve been into the building, like, three times. Once for registration and the other two times were for a fundraiser. Before I passed the SEA.

After five years at St Monica’s I feel very strongly connected to it as my old school. I just don’t have that connection with my new school. I really don’t feel I can call myself “a Convent girl” yet.

I’ve been going there for a year now but I’ve never actually set foot in a classroom, never sat down at a desk or had an actual class with a teacher at SJC.

I got a vaccine and I hope I get to go to go to school soon.

When my older brother was halfway through form two, he was yanked out of school by covid.

So now I’m thinking how ironic it would be if everything went full circle and, halfway through form two, we finally got to go
back into school!

Not going to school has helped me mature a lot. I’ve been exposed to the Internet, like completely at my disposal and I know what stuff can happen.

(In a way) it’s really nice to just roll out of bed and sit at my computer and go to class.

But at the same time, it’s really depressing.

Back in standard five, me and my SJC friend were talking about if and when we did get into SJC, about how much time we would spend in the library. Because we both enjoy reading a lot.

We’ve never been into the library.

One of the paths I’m considering – I have two bouncing around in my mind – would be to become a physiotherapist. Because I really like sports.

And because my dad really doesn’t have the best back so he needs someone to take care of him. I like to help people get over what they’re struggling with.

Another thing I have in mind is a sporting career.

One of my heroes is a Trinidadian, Andrew Lewis. He’s gone to the Olympics three, four times already.

Probably I could have a career in sailing. I’ve gone in a 420 a couple times but right now I primarily sail Optimists in competitions.

I don’t think I’ll ever start vaping. My parents don’t smoke.

Me and my older brother are very close in age so Mom has a lot of pictures of us when we were younger.

A couple of my early memories include me eating sand. Falling asleep eating pizza and eating wrapping paper on Christmas. My brother Luke was eating roti and I was eating wrapping paper!

A lot of eating memories.

Sometimes, when I go by my grandfather, I get the chance to exercise outside.

Otherwise, we have a porch.

Sometimes my mom makes me go outside while my little brother rides up and down the street on his bike.

It’s a very difficult time for everyone, particularly young people.

But I try my best to be positive.

Mummy is here. so I can’t say exactly how much time I spend on my phone.

But I think I can average that out at “a lot of time.”

At Carnival 2019, we went to Cuba. There’s a city in Cuba that’s actually called Trinidad.

We had no internet but it was fun.

We went to Tobago.

A couple of times, my brother Luke and I have been lucky to go to a sailing competition abroad.

TT has good food, definitely.

My favourite food of TT would be my grandfather’s stewed chicken and rice.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to have doubles but, if I am presented with the opportunity to eat doubles, I will.

A Trini is a person with a lot of spirit who can easily be proud of our culture.

And they don’t mind adventure, party and a good time.

Trinidad and Tobago is my home. It’s where I was born.

It’s where I get my culture from.

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