A Beautiful Mistake.
We often do not hear mistake and beautiful in the same sentence. Michelle Pancansky-Brock, thank you for the making me dig deeepperr and make me go on memory lane to talk about a beautiful mistake in professional setting that was painful at the time that resulted in my growth and development.
Is being a student profession? Yes & no. Being a student gives us foundation from which we build our professional lives on. The mistake I am talking about was from my early days when I was young, inexperienced girl who had a lot to learn from life. Though it was a learning experience, I do not know this mistake will be considered beautiful or not. By sharing my mistake, I am opening myself -warts and all. The aim of this post is to engage in a healthy, respectful dialogue with my peers.
Long time back, while I was a new immigrant, the college’s International Student Association was a bridge to students from different cultures and countries. Encouraged by the enthusiastic and caring adviser, we will meet, mingle, learn about one another’s culture, share our experiences and try to navigate the new country. For many of us, this student organization gave us sense of community where we belong rather than being adrift in our new environment.
One day, Elsa (not real name) told me, she liked a dress so much but it was out of her budget; being a jew-sharp and frugal- she was going to use her resources smartly. So she went to Goodwill and bought something else equally good at a fraction of the price of that beautiful dress. I asked her why she is calling herself a little jew while she was not one? She explained that “being a jew” means that one is hard working, has a better moneysense and it is a complement.
Couple of days later, I was talking to another classmate, Chaya (not real name) about our families. I said that my sister is a little jew, she saves all her money. Though I was complimenting my sister, it was not so. Chaya took offense at my word choice, “Jew”. She was very upset & I can’t understand why. Didn’t my other friend used same word for herself a week earlier? Why she can describe herself as a sharp & frugal jew even though she is not a jew but I can’t use the same word to describe my sharp, moneywise sister?
Chaya was hopping mad at me & I can’t understand what had I done. With blazing eyes and loud voice, she told me that “Being a Jew” is a stereotype and an reason for jews being discriminated through the years. To her, I was wrong and needed to make amends by apologizing as well as understanding why the phrase was derogatory. My being ignorant of the sad history was not enough excuse & though highly agitated, she decided to educate me on history of prejudice against Jewish people. That day, I lost a potential friend while learning a good lesson about cultural awareness and history.
I am older and wiser now. I look at individuals and do not lump any race with an attribute. My interaction with Chaya was painful and humiliating. It also taught me about being culturally aware and a better person. I bring this knowledge to my everyday interactions in home, school and community.