On Being Heard Across the Table Printer Friendly
The communication lab consisted of a small group of first-year students who met every Friday with a facilitator to discuss issues about adjusting to campus life. This particular lab had students from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, and at the first meeting they had decided to discuss cultural diversity throughout the semester. Last Friday, when the communication lab facilitator asked the group about how the week had gone, Maicee said, “I need to talk about what’s happening in my English class. The instructor keeps calling me Chinese even though I’m Hmong. Actually the first day of class he didn’t even call my name because I was the only Asian person in the class, so I guess he correlated my name on the roll to me. Then later in the class he asked me how I pronounced my name, and I pronounced it for him. He said it sounded Chinese. I felt unsure about him, and so I didn’t bother to tell him that I’m not Chinese. But the following day I finally had to tell him that I’m not Chinese but Hmong. Then the next week when I made a class presentation, he said, ‘Tze tzien,’ which is Chinese for thank you. I just looked at him and didn’t know what to say.” Maicee looked nervous and distressed.
Todd, another member of the lab, looked at the group and felt really distanced from it. Maicee seemed to him like a nice person, but he knew that he probably wouldn’t see her again after the labs and felt like he couldn’t relate. He wished that the labs could talk about things that related to him more. He wanted to meet more people on campus who were doing things on the weekend that would be fun. He had thought about joining a fraternity or some clubs, but he didn’t feel comfortable taking the first steps that would help him get involved in those things. And now again here was Maicee complaining about her English instructor. . .