A fond farewell: Sangita Iyer says that Bermudians she has met socially or in the course of her job have been “generous, incredibly wonderful and receptive people.” *Photo supplied
A fond farewell: Sangita Iyer says that Bermudians she has met socially or in the course of her job have been “generous, incredibly wonderful and receptive people.” *Photo supplied
One of the most familiar faces on local TV makes her final appearance tonight before leaving the island to head back to Canada.

ZBM reporter Sangita Iyer told the Bermuda Sun that it is time to leave because she is "homesick" and wants to be closer to her family. However, Ms Iyer also spoke of a culture of xenophobic "bullying" she has encountered while doing her job and makes it clear that the island's gossip-mill has also been a thorn in her side.

Ms Iyer said that Bermudians she has met socially or in the course of her job have been "generous, incredibly wonderful and receptive people." However, there are certain individuals who want to make guest workers' lives a misery.

Ms Iyer said: "I've been here three years, and that's long enough. I'm homesick: that's the main reason I'm going. But when you are homesick, every little thing matters more, especially when you are not given the basic human respect you deserve. Add to that the xenophobia, add to that the bullying."

A Canadian national, Ms Iyer was born in India, spent her infant years in Kenya, and then spent 17 years of her life in Canada. She said that one "bully" she had encountered in the course of doing her job had told her to "go home" if she didn't like being told what to do. She believes xenophobia is widespread on the island. "Bermudians are very generous, but also very territorial. They have a love/hate relationship with expats: they can't live without them, but at the same time there is a lot of resentment."

Ms Iyer also referred to other "cultural differences" that have proved difficult to adapt to. She said: "I'm a very private person. The Bermuda culture is very gossipy: we all know that. There's no secret there. I just wish people would put as much energy into solving some of the country's problems as they do gossiping."

Cooped up emotions

She added: "The gossip culture is destroying our young people. When gossip is spread around, young people don't want to talk about what's on their minds and their emotions get cooped up and that can lead to violence. Gossip can destroy people."

Despite her problems over the past three years, Ms Iyer said the positives outweigh the negatives and that she will be taking great memories and experiences home with her. She said that she has been "privileged" to go into the homes of Bermudians and to learn about their culture.

Ms Iyer recently created a 13-part series of "EnviroShorts": short films on the subject of the island's environment that will be shown to schoolchildren. "That will be my legacy here," she said. "I am mesmerized by the island's natural beauty, and I hope I can pass that love on to anyone who watches those films."

Ms Iyer says she is considering several offers for jobs: one as a daytime chat show host in British Colombia and another working for a news channel in Toronto.