And today I wanted to write this post in English because I’m a immigrant too and that’s one of the many things I learned from it. Here’s more:
When I was a kid I didn’t understand well why people would come to my country to actually stay. I guess we weren’t ready for long-term tourists. It was kind of seen like a threat for Spaniards to have immigrants around. You would hear people complain about how they were taking our jobs (the lowest category possible, though), and that now they had to wait at the hospital because they were sharing their (free and public) health system -or schools- with them and they didn’t even speak Spanish! Like… Everybody in the world should speak Spanish. ¿Qué? ¿Cómo? ¿Cuándo? End of the story.
Farrah was a girl sitting next to me when I was a freshman in High school. She was from Sahara and she totally hated our other classmate, Muhammad (a.k.a “Moha”), from Morocco. They both spoke Arabic and just because of that, they were treated as “the same thing” by everyone in class. “Come on, they should be friends or something”. Well, it turns out Moroccans had controlled most of the Saharawi territory and Farrah’s family had to move to a refugee camp in Algeria, so she tried her best to explain that their “weird” names and common language would never make them friends.
By the time I finished High school, I lost track of her. She was very talented, smart… she worked hard and she loved studying and learning new stuff, so I hope she’s doing something great in life right now. Moha never finished high school, he wasn’t interested and smoking weed was way more fun. He improved his Spanish, though, better than nothing…! So I started to see immigrants from a different perspective. Like Spaniards, some of them work hard and some others don’t. The year after, we had a new classmate from Peru and people couldn’t understand than they can actually have both Spanish and Peruvian nationalities without having to give up any of them -so whatever, he would be treated as an immigrant and this time he spoke Spanish as his first language… No mercy.
When I was 22, I moved to London for 11 months to learn English. The first weeks were hard. I thought my High school level of English would be enough but those British didn’t think the same. I gotta say they really made my life miserable when it came to asking for directions; they expected me to be fluent and well… I wasn’t. And neither was my pronunciation. What can I say? Their “S” at the beginning of the words are still hard for me to pronounce, as well as the “V” and “H”. But hey, I met loads of nice people from all over the world (Poland, France, Czech Republic, USA, South Africa, China…) with something in common: we were alone in another land that wasn’t ours. And guess what, it wasn’t easy to get involved in their lifestyle (which reminded me of Farrah, Moha and the Peruvian guy), but I never felt pointed at only because I was from a different country and spoke a different language -not even when I would turn down a sweet plan for a “siesta” 🙂
So on the one hand, I’m glad now Spaniards are the ones moving out of the country “taking other people’s jobs and sharing with them their health system and education” because only this way we’ll see immigration like something different: a way to make one’s life better (or just unique!!) with no intention to make anybody’s worse. On the other hand, it’s sad that sometimes there’s no choice to actually stay in Spain as desired. But you see my point:
Treat immigrants with respect. It could be you tomorrow…