August 27, 2011

What’s wrong with being Different?

Lately I have this question running in my head, “What’s wrong with being different?”

I am a native Indonesian living in Spain. I am a Moslem, so I don’t eat pork. Yet, when I attend a family party, there will always be someone—or some people—offering me pork. Well, I suppose they do not know that as a Moslem, we aren’t allowed to eat pork. But then, after I politely say “No,” they sometimes say weird things like, “You don’t want to eat it because you don’t know what it tastes like,” or “You need to learn eating pork,” or even “It’s delicious. Try one.”

I may not be a good Moslem—who spends her time praying and reading Qur’an—but I respect what is prohibited by Moslem. I know I’ve never eaten any pork in my life, and I shouldn’t say that it isn’t delicious (because how do I know it isn’t delicious if I’ve never tried one??), but hey! With all respect, I am a Moslem. I don’t eat pork. Full stop!

I am Indonesian and English isn’t my mother-tongue. I speak Indonesian and Javanese (my local language), but I started to learn English since I was 7, I studied English Education, and I’ve been teaching English for 5 years, so I believe I have near-native English. I speak English fluently. Some students used to ask me whether I spent my childhood in the UK because they believed I had an native accent.

Therefore, when those employers refused my job applications because I am not a native English speaker, I deserve to question, “Why?” Why don’t they let me show that I have the qualities of being an English teacher in Spain? Why don’t they test me so they’ll know how good I am? Why don’t they wonder me about my teaching experiences so they’ll know what I’ve been through?

I wish I could add “Why You Should Hire Me” page so they’ll know I am good enough to work for them. Perhaps I can write things like:
·      I am a perfectionist. That is why I always make sure that my job is completed perfectly. I don’t like making mistakes—no matter how tiny it is. I always double check everything. Triple check, if needed. You probably see me a little desperate when I am finishing my tasks, but that’s because I am working to make sure everything is beyond perfection.
·      I pay attention to details. If you find me wondering you with questions when you give me a task to complete, that’s when I am gathering as many details as possible to make sure I don’t make mistakes. Don’t worry; I won’t bug you with lots of questions because I believe I am smart enough to comprehend new things fast.
·      I am a fast learner. Just give me some clues, and I am ready for the task. In addition, I am not lazy, so I am willing to find the information myself.
·      I am fun. I prefer having a lively teaching environment to a dead one. I prefer having my students speak to practice their English to listening to me for an hour talking about the boring theories.
·      I am positive. I love making people laugh and happy because I have a contagious positive attitude. I see possibilities over impossibilities. I see opportunities over despair.  
·      I am creative. If you find us doing crazy weird things in class, that’s when we’re having some fun. I love giving my students new activities that will not only make them enjoy learning English, but also make them easier to comprehend it. I love games!
·      I am pretty. Well, that’s a bonus.

What’s wrong with being different, anyway? Just because I am a Moslem, it doesn’t mean I cannot have fun like others who aren’t. Well yes, I don’t go to the disco. I don’t go dancing often. Not because I am not allowed to, but because I don’t like it (loud music makes me dizzy). Just because I am not a native speaker, it doesn’t mean I teach worse than those natives.

So why don’t you just accept me as I am?
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