“The reason I do what I do, is because I want to show Guyanese Guyana…Many Guyanese are not aware of this country and the vast expanse, especially those on those Coast. When I came back home and I started travelling, my mind just exploded.”
By Sharmain Grainger
Although his goal is to engage people on a national scale and spark developmental thoughts
that can effect positive environmental changes, Alex Arjoon has long accepted the fact that he will not gain approval from everyone. But he has been making a remarkable impact on quite a few through his creative ability amplified through ‘Reel Guyana’.
‘Reel Guyana’ is media production Start-up Company brought into being by Arjoon with the primary aim of uncovering and acquiring raw footage of the environment.
The company is in fact one that embraces the vision established by the Green State Development Strategy [GSDS] which is nestled on the need for inclusive green economic growth. Embracing this strategy essentially means fostering measures that will help reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy in order to reduce reliance on traditional sectors, while at the same time paving the way for new investment opportunities.
As such, Arjoon has embraced a mission to help achieve this goal by embarking on a journey across Guyana and capturing and sharing professional-quality video footage that amplifies the vastness of this dear land and the many possibilities.
Through his access to Air Services Limited, which is managed by his mother, Annette Arjoon-Martins, he has been able to utilise helicopters and light aircraft, as well as drones to capture just right footage of locations including water conservancies, the Shell Beach Protected area along the coast, Iwokrama Reserve in the green heart of Guyana and the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area and Shea Rock in the Southern Rupununi, with his wide-angle lenses GoPro cameras.
His breathtaking work has been featured in CCTV’s documentary on the emerging oil and gas industry and has even been utilised by the World Wildlife Fund and Ministry of Education. The latter had sought his expertise to help produce a series of educational videos. With a theme of Education for Sustainable Development and supported by the Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions (CATS), the videos were disseminated through the Learning Channel.
Arjoon was also behind the ‘UR Nature’ series for Conservation International and a travelogue for Iwokrama.
In fact, his aim is to continue to generate outstanding footage, wherever it is needed,
in the quest to advance the need for a Green Economy.
Born on July 30, 1992 to parents Annette and Andrew Arjoon, Alex was christened Alexander Peter Arjoon. As he grew, he developed a passion for a number of sports including football and squash especially, but could easily fit into any that caught his fancy.
He started school at Mae’s Under 12 and then took leave for Marian Academy where he completed his secondary schooling. After graduation he spent one year at the Georgetown International Academy to complete 12th Grade before proceeding to Boarding School in Massachusetts, United States.
A year later he was attending the Franklin and Marshall Liberal Arts College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During those days he really got a chance to pursue his interest in squash and even became a Squash Coach for a prestigious country club in New York.
But during his school days Arjoon hadn’t quite decided on the professional path he wanted to embrace. He had however recognised that he had a creative side, which was particularly emphasised whenever he was behind a camera, a pastime that he had naturally embraced along with a bit of poetry writing and music.
However, his parents frequently encouraged him to consider joining the corporate world, but for some reason that wasn’t appealing to this free-spirited young man.
“Up to today I still haven’t decided ‘yes, this or that is what I want to do’…this doesn’t mean that I don’t embrace what I am doing now 100 percent. I think there are very few people who can tell you ‘oh hey, I know for sure what I am about; this is what I want to do’. I don’t ever see myself, in the near future, being like ‘yes, that’s me, I am so solely about this’,” said Arjoon, whose intent is to be good in as many areas as possible that he finds interesting.
In fact he developed this mind-set from the mentoring he got from his uncle – Roger Arjoon. “He always told me that the two most important things to do in life are acquiring knowledge and skills, and with those two things you can pretty much do anything.”
This lesson was taught to the young Arjoon when he was much younger, but, according to him, it was only until he hit adulthood that it all made sense.
“It was then I realised how useful it is to know and do things for myself,” said Arjoon who noted that despite his independence, there are some days that he still awakens a little insecure and somewhat uncertain about life.
“I have come to realise that it isn’t just me thinking like this, there are others who go through the same thing…it is a constant battle, but you just have to keep pushing,” related the down-to-earth young man, who is even intimidated
by the fact that he will turn 25 in a matter of days.
Returning home from his studies abroad was not without a great deal of thought. In fact, Arjoon recalled having a discussion with his parents about him returning with a goal of effecting meaningful change.
“My mom and I, we spoke almost every night and she sort of pushed me in this direction,” recalled Arjoon, who even then kept leaning towards his creative side. Upon his return, he was able to reach out to one of his friends, Macaela ‘The Remix Chick’ Cameron, who has been on the media scene for some time.
With Cameron’s support, Arjoon was able to bring to fruition the concept of a Talk Show called ‘Round Town’ which was inspired by his love for late-night talk shows. The vision for the show, according to Arjoon, was to showcase Guyanese culture, issues and identity. Thus far, two seasons of the televised show have been aired.
“I have been able to touch on a ton of topics such as mental illness, gender equality, Caricom and a number of progressive social issues and even some related to the environment…on Iwokrama and the Rupununi,” Arjoon related.
But this simply wasn’t enough for the enterprising young man, who increasingly developed a passion for nature having travelled to a number of far-flung areas. In fact, he has set a goal for himself to literally travel the length and breadth of Guyana while still in his 20s.
“I have actually been doing pretty good so far,” said a smiling Arjoon in response to how much travelling he has done.
“I have covered already almost the whole south and north Rupununi and my friends and
I are going to tackle [climb] Mount Roraima next year which I think is going to be amazing,” Arjoon divulged, as he spoke of also exploring Region Eight and uncovering its hidden gems.
It is during such expeditions that Arjoon has been unleashing his creative talent.
“The reason I do what I do is because I want to show Guyanese, Guyana…Many Guyanese are not aware of this country and the vast expanse, especially those on those Coast. When I came back home and I started travelling, my mind just exploded,” Arjoon shared.
He added, “When you are in a place where there is nothing but land, scenery…just nature, you get a very overwhelming feeling. When I experienced that for myself, nobody couldn’t tell me I wasn’t Guyanese…that, in itself, helped to reaffirm who I am as a Guyanese, even though I was away at school for over six years.”
The videos he has been able to capture have also been a part of a deliberate effort to raise awareness about environmental protection and wildlife conservation, and therefore not merely to showcase the beauty and possibilities the land of Guyana holds.
“Doing this has really given me an opportunity to be involved in Guyana; in how we treat and manage our country. I knew I wanted to contribute to Guyana and I felt I was able to do that through the platform I have now,” Arjoon reflected. But even as his creativity evolves, Arjoon insisted that his ultimate aim is to always remain true to himself and to whatever he indulges in.
ADVICE TO PARENTS
According to Arjoon, although he wasn’t always willing to accept the guidance offered by his parents, it was essentially because of them that he has become the focused and determined person he is today. As such he urges that parents do not simply give up on their children. “Continue to guide your kids in positive directions and work with them, as opposed to working for them and carving out their path for them. I feel that my parents, as much as they pushed me to do certain things, they also made sure that I was smart enough and educated enough to make my own decisions, and I think education is a massive factor,” Arjoon added.
He touted exposure to different cultures and environments as important aspects too, to aid the thorough development of a young person.
The lessons that Arjoon has learnt over the years has kept him grounded, and has placed him in a position where he understands that “life isn’t about trying to compete and out-do others, but basically to try to do as much good…as much as you can. I don’t have to be the best in the field I am in, I just want to be better today than I was yesterday.”
According to Arjoon, if his work was and is able to make a difference even in some small way, it would in fact mean that his goal to create change would have been achieved.
But even as he continues his quest for change, Arjoon, on occasions, engages relaxation mode, which usually translates to firing up a grill and cracking open a few beers with those within his tight-knit circle of family members and friends.
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