Sunday, February 18, 2018

Breaking down barriers in the technology field

Deidre Cristal Lee Kin

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Mark Fraser


Deidre Cristal Lee Kin a woman who fights hard for everything she has.

The public relations and marketing manager of Dingolay E-commerce Services Limited and co-founder of one of its projects: Trinipedia, Lee Kin explained why she was such a strong and determined individual.. “I am an only child for my mother; I grew up with my mum and a partially present father. I had a great childhood being exposed to all sides of life; my mum is a very independent and strong woman and she taught me to be the same. Being an only child has a stigma attached to it, and I have always had to work extra hard and be a little more at everything I ever did to get past that saying, “oh, it’s only child behaviour”. All of my actions are because of the person I choose to be, not because I was an only child. I get what I want because I fight for it not because I am accustomed to having my own way,” she affirmed.

Spoken like a true business woman! In fact, it is undoubtedly this aggressiveness that has allowed Lee Kin to be successful in the business arena – specifically, the technology area. She admitted that oftentimes, men perceive her as weak, until she asserts herself and they realise otherwise. “…they seem to think I am weaker until they get to know exactly where my limits lie for something I want to do.”

But it is more than just aggressiveness that enables Lee Kin to be successful; it is also determination, a desire to be very adept at whatever she does and a desire to be all-rounded. “They say you should be a master of something but know a little of everything. I may have taken that a bit too seriously. I had backgrounds in law, tourism management, marketing and at the moment I am a fashion design student at UTT; somewhere along there I also did a welding course at MIC, just so that I would know how, in case it ever came up.”

Quite the achiever in my view.

In the end, however, she is your all round Caribbean girl; "You can find me on the beach any day, you can see me in my costume every Carnival; I love everything about my country, but there is so much more to it that people seem to ignore, and the true love for what makes a Trinbagonian is being lost. The music I grew up listening to is so foreign to the youth of today and I find it very sad, because there is a natural sweetness that you feel in your soul when you can connect to truly being a Trini and I wanted the future generations to still have that.”

It is this overwhelming love and respect for culture that has inspired Lee Kin to be a part of Trinipedia, and the company behind it.

So when a close friend of hers, Shawn De Freitas, told her about an idea of his – Trinipedia – that had been sitting dormant for over seven years, she jumped at the chance. “He’s quite the visionary and I’m more the, ‘let’s get it done now’ type,” Lee Kin admitted. She went on to say that, “Trinipedia is a mobile app and we are now launching a project called ‘shack shack’ which is introducing the app to Trinidad for the first time. What the app does is scan images and gives you content... We’ve joined with the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism to now bring the project forward using their content, our content…What we realise is that now cellphones have become so much more pervasive. Kids refuse to read books; they’re not even into television that much, just on their phones constantly, they’re walking in the streets heads down. I think I almost knocked a kid over just now; she was like on her phone. So what we wanted to do was find a way to reach the children, using our real culture, our heritage, just keep it alive”.

The beautiful 8x6 foot art pieces depicting various calypsonians of Trinidad and Tobago that presently line the circumference of the Savannah are a result of Trinipedia. “Instead of having ‘the head down behaviour,’ we now have the ‘heads up behaviour’,” she said enthusiastically as she explained how the app works. “You scan them with your phone, once you’ve downloaded the app, and you get content; so let’s say it’s calypsonian Shadow, you scan the image and then you’ll get his song, a little bio about him, pictures from 20, 30, 40 years ago. You get a lot of content, so it’s sort of like reintroducing culture in a fun, nice way to the kids,” she said. She showed me one of the images on her phone at this point and had me guess which calypsonian. I got it! It was a young Kitchener.

“It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though,” she said. “I have stumbled across many rejections, and sometimes it is extremely discouraging. Being a woman in this project has its advantages, but sometimes the disadvantages can make you want to pack up and go home…well, not really; They just make me go harder and get to where I want to go.”

The app can be accessed on trinipedia.com.



Author’s e-mail: akholder22@aol.com