”Can you climb on the table and dance Samba for us?” He asked me with a malicious look in his eyes. I was confused with the request. I was invited to be part of this dinner with a business group to help them with the understanding of the language and my culture. I answered: ”Sorry I haven’t being paid to dance, but to talk. I can dance samba, but I don’t want you to evaluate my work because of how I move my body.” This was the first time I felt that the stereotype of been Brazilian or South American.
”Sorry, I don’t think you can pay for that pair of shoes you want to try. Is too expensive for you.” Said the gentleman when he realized I was an immigrant.
”Excuse me lady, can you pay for the things in your bag, you took from the store?” said this man in the middle of the street to me, after I left his establishment. I looked at him trying to understand what he was saying, since I had not taking anything at all and not believing what he was thinking of me. Again this feeling of being judge because of how I look like, came strongly and I had to control my self not to cry with anger right there in front of the gentleman, that after looking into my eyes and see how surprise I was, realized that he was making a mistake.
”She can’t teach? She needs to have the proper train to teach, I don’t think she has permission to do that.” I was a South American who speaks English as a second language with a strong accent. I knew I had the capacity, and the proper train, but that question unfortunately robbed all my security and made me feel inadequate for the task.
Many time I came to meeting and I heard people telling me how they loved my culture and when I asked what they like, they all ways said: ” I like how hospitable you are, how you like to party, how you like to serve, how you like to dance, how you like football, how joyful you are, your BBQ, etc.” I love hearing those things, and in reality all of these are true, but this is not just what I have to offer. I have the impression people likes the fun we have to offer but not what we think about things. Our view of life, how we resolve conflict, how we lead situations, how we think about complicated issues. Is so common to see people been surprised when they discover that we are academically educated or that we can disagree about something or share a strong opinion or just be firm about something.
Working in a cultural orientation program made me way more sensitive towards cultural issues than before. I know that I have seeing things bigger than it is in reality. I am aware that this feelings should not control me, and write about it helps me to detox some how.
I love my work, I love the place where I work, I love the people I work with. I have amazing friends in the land I choose to live. This is not a pity party letter. I am not asking for any reaction or nice words to make me feel better. I am just trying to be transparent and not let any resentment growing in my heart.
Thank you for reading and hear my heart.