When: A week ago
Where: Where I live
Rarely have I experienced discrimination or racism in the States. That makes me one of the few people residing anywhere in the world then doesn’t it? 🙂 Please note that I used the word rarely. When you don’t know what you deserve, you live among bad situations with the assumption that you deserve them (Human nature?).
That was pretty much my life when I studied in DDCOP (Don’t you think it is cool that they have a website now? A bad one though! Not a lot has changed in that place since I left that school. The only cool part is they are looking up to technology to project themselves as a genuine institution in the field. ) When I strike out lines that I write, I don’t want you to read them. They are like private thoughts I am scared of expressing freely ( Because you cannot raise awareness about poor educational standards in India. That is the unspoken social norm). But if you still went ahead and read them, you have no manners ( *just kidding*). Today when I look back at those traumatic days spent in social isolation and humiliation that I was subjected to because of one woman’s crazy mind ( * at least hundred students who graduated from that college will agree to that statement*),
I can’t be thankful enough for what I was put through because of unethical administrative practices in educational leadership.
*Avoiding Annoyance Lesson 1
A few weeks ago, I was getting my groceries billed at a place I frequent. I forgot to swipe my card and was busy loading the cart (Okay, I am that annoying customer who does it. Sorry for that). The person standing behind me said everything worse he could say to a brown skinned lady from a South Asian country. 🙂 Well when I describe it like that you don’t want to ask me what all he said in detail. I am not angel about using bad language. But my foul language usage begins and ends in comedy situations with people that are extremely close to me. That’s it. The typical person that is me first froze, but then felt deep anger. When you have had worse things said to you in your face, in your own country, by a woman who is supposed to be your principal, you learn to count numbers when you have anger rushing into your blood in a situation like that. I arrived at the point of counting numbers after several years of being a hot headed stupid girl who fought for fairness always. Then there comes a time when you realize that fighting is not always important.
Learning to ignore the worthless is a great tool to possess in today’s times.
When this person was calling me names, all I was focusing on was getting out of there before my seven year old niece heard those ugly words. For her, I sound different when I speak English. Myself and her mother dress different from her friends’ mothers and sisters (read Americans here). She is always observing and asking questions about where I come from and where I intend to take myself. If I had lost it at that moment and gotten into an argument with this disrespectful man, I am sure it would have had whatever conclusion any one of our egos wanted. But that would have tainted the memory of a seven year old American citizen about the way America treats non-resident aliens ( this term again has another story). For her the world begins and ends in every unique situation she encounters. She and her peers are learning so quickly and questioning so strongly every second they are growing in this country. I went home and was all red faced when I was blurting out what happened to my sister with an angry face. Do you think she never has experienced anything like that before? She has lived here for 13 years. She must have experienced situations worse than mine. But I don’t know of any time she got into a fist fight/argument with anyone in similar situations. So I guess I learnt it from her. Avoiding Annoyance Lesson # 1
*Avoiding the Annoyance Lesson 2
When you are trying to educate yourself, criticism is an integral part of the process. I have always considered myself as someone who doesn’t know enough about anything in this field. So I am always shamelessly asking questions and participating in discussions. When I am mindful of being respectful and compassionate towards others, I expect to receive it back from others around me. Luckily I am surrounded by a ton of people who teach me everyday to be a confident person that I should be. I am surprised at how many students I met in this country have inspired me with their dedicated work and compassion. Then along come a few who don’t know enough about dealing with people from foreign cultures. I do not know what runs in their brains. But their interactions are always causing pain and make you feel like you are not good enough to be among them. They cross all lines of communication where they say things to you that they wouldn’t dare say to a fellow citizen of their country. Initially these small unpleasant interactions hurt me and made me think if I shouldn’t be here. But when I weigh these experiences with everything that the other Americans are doing for me to prepare me for the field, I calm down my feelings of anger and annoyance. A casual conversation with another woman coming from a diverse background like mine was quite enlightening. She told me,
“Sri, every time this person(s) talk to you like that, ask yourself, what can I learn from this person? Every thing will become simple at that very moment”
Trust me I put it into practice and you will be amazed at how many unpleasant situations I have avoided in the last several days. You might ask me who is going to correct these people who hurt others with their communication that is loaded with ignorance. There will be one person from their own kind who will say it to them in their face. They will not like it. But they will swallow it and learn from it. I might sound like an uneducated, ignorant fool to say it but that is the truth of this world. Humans are comfortable learning about life from one of their own (however you might want to define the own word) in contrast to learning from some one not their own. I might be flawed in my way of understanding the whole phenomenon, but as of today the 17th day of February in the year 2015, this is my understanding. If I improve my analysis on this, I will update it here for sure 🙂
For a lot of people I sound like a snob every time I mention my under graduate school. I am a strong believer in the desperate need for higher educational standards in India. I will not stop writing about that school until things improve over there. Not until, faculty and staff in that place realize the importance of putting student interests before their their own interests.