For this project, I was asked an interesting question: to think about the home where I grew up, and identify 3 things that defined that home and describe why they were/are important to me.

My name is Jordan Kalondo – Lechien, this is my Crystal Stair.

For starters, “home” fanned across 6 countries. I was born in Namibia and I’ve lived in Kenya, France, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Switzerland.

So what 3 lessons could I have possibly learned from relocating so often?

First, you develop the ability and talent to take a step back.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.  We, as humans become so classically trained to take sides… right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, just vs. unjust without always having, or caring to have, the entire context.  I consider myself to be the most unbiased person in the world, and I don’t say that lightly. 

Born to a Namibian mother and Kenyan father, but raised by a French stepfather, I’m no stranger to intermixed families and differing worldviews.  After having traveled and lived in so many countries, I developed a more comprehensive opinion around the social issues of those countries, specifically between African and Western European countries.  For me, it left little room for prejudice and judgment and I was unable to look at mainstream issues through the oculus of a predisposed lens.

Second, you learn to adapt quickly.  My family was bequeathed a sick, sick child. I was born an asthmatic, dealt with atopic dermatitis (a severe form of eczema) two cataracts before the age of ten, pubertal delay, suffered from food, environmental, and fur allergies, reoccurring ear infections, and trigeminal neuralgia, AKA “Suicide Disease”, a chronic nerve pain disorder that sends shocking pain through the face. Whew.

Needless to say,…members of my family didn’t think that I’d be able to survive, but against all odds, I persevered, and that perseverance is still very much part of my identity today.  Because we kept moving, my siblings and I were forced to adjust linguistically, academically, culturally, and emotionally to every environment we were placed in.  So, while I would have loved to have called one place “home”, the chameleonic skill I’ve garnered over my life I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Lastly, you learn to increase your level of curiosity.  I curse our short lives.  The world, and its 7 billion inhabitants and 7,097 different languages, endless cuisines and cultural proclivities are constantly evolving and leaves much to be discovered and explored.

So what’s special about me? Why do I consider my life special?

I’m a polyglot – or someone who can speak multiple languages.  I’m reeeally good at learning them… I’ve always been able to pick them up faster than other people.

I speak English and French fluently, am conversationally fluent in Japanese, Spanish, and Afrikaans (a language spoken in South Africa) and am currently learning Russian, Chinese, Korean, Swedish, and Italian.

Why so many languages, you may ask?

I’m currently attending one of the world’s leading performing arts schools, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, as one of very few black actors in the program and have aspirations of becoming a polyglot actor.  Understanding the nuances that reside within a language enables me to channel my character’s emotion, personality, and habits as well as understand their cultural traits.  When I’m not studying, I’m writing plays, using my gift to weave stories together for future productions.

I was extremely blessed to have had my acting talents recognized early by my family and I view myself as a living testament of what happens when young black men are fully supported and are taught to wholly embrace the arts.  I’m creating my own career trajectory, all while inspiring those coming behind me.

Catch me on a screen or a stage near you very soon.