Coming from a French-speaking country, I had to learn that if I am to learn, I must put away my fears of being ridiculed. There was a woman back home that used to say that she does not get easily embarrassed because she fell in Assigame before. Assigame is the “big market” in ewe and it’s the busiest place in Lome and they are not too kind when you fall so that was the woman’s way of saying that she has been through the worse possible.
Grand Marche de Lome found here
I am sure every immigrant will have a similar story to mine. I realized at some point that if I wanted to learn, I had to put myself out there. I put myself where it is uncomfortable so I can push myself to face my fear of being ridiculed. I was part of a group and we were working on a project. There was a need for a volunteer to write the ideas that we were brainstorming and so I volunteered. Words were thrown out there that I had no idea how to write, so I did what I was thought since primary school, write it the way it sounds. To give you an idea of how bad it was, I wrote “easter bonnie” instead of “easter bunny.” lol! Like the woman I mentioned earlier, I had my own share of falls in Assigame so I finished what I started; needless to say that I was ridiculed and called names. Nothing new there… What touched me was that one of our mentors got up and ripped the paper that I wrote on, then in front of me, he rolled it and put it in the trash can. I believe that it is one of the reasons why this keeps playing in my head, my feelings were hurt but I was more disappointed than anything else. If I get the chance to face that mentor, I would tell him that he was the worst bully of them all. I grew up knowing teachers that corrected mistakes, not to embarrass the student but to ensure that the mistakes do not get repeated. In this day of age where we need more tolerance in our lives, I would like to remind everyone that the United States of America is called a “melting pot” for a reason. People from different backgrounds merge into this country and build a home. So let’s lift each other up rather than break each other down, every chance we get.
Earlier in my experience here in the United States, my English 102 teacher was having a conversation with us and one of my classmates commented that our college was a community garbage because everyone is welcomed. My teacher could have let that comment slide just like I witnessed many others do. But she used me as an example and asked me how many languages I speak. I told her 5 if I include the dialects that we speak in my country and English. The person who made the comment only spoke English. That teacher boosted my confidence that day. I am grateful that other falls prepared me for that moment where the mentor tried to make me feel small. I am grateful that it did not make me crawl back into my bubble. I learned what an Easter bunny was that day and how to write it.
Remember that we all have opportunities to be the rainbows in other people’s clouds, but we can also be the dark clouds if we choose to. I hope we choose to live intentionally 🙂