Todd said, “Well, since you’ve been in the United States for so long, can’t you just adapt to the system and try to be more straightforward? I mean, at least the instructor knew something about Asians. I don’t even know where Laos is.”
Maicee said nothing. The silence grew heavy.
Jim finally said, “Hey, can we take the last ten minutes to talk about next semester’s schedule?”
Several students started talking about the humanities class.
“Wait a minute,” the facilitator said and then she asked, “Are you going to leave this discussion with Todd’s solution as the last word? Maicee, how do feel about what Todd said?”
Maicee slowly responded, “I feel terrible that I can’t be more assertive like he’s saying. But I also feel terrible that I even brought this whole subject up.”
Todd felt embarrassed but couldn’t exactly say why. He just knew that he wanted the lab to be over.
Becky said, “Todd, do you understand anything that Maicee has said? Do you care about anything besides yourself and how you would respond? I mean, I thought that we had all agreed that diversity was important. Have you changed your mind?”
Todd looked at the group and his face turned red as he said, “Look, I’m struggling too. What happened to Maicee just happened to me in this lab. I’ve been misunderstood just like she was. What do you want me to do- just sit here and feel sorry for her?”
This case was written for the Critical Moments project with support from The University of Nebraska Foundation and The Ford Foundation.