It has been about 7 and a half years since I graduated from Occupational Therapy. I earned my B.S at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia, then I immediately moved to USA because I got married to a wonderful man that happen to be American.
So, I decided to follow him and start our married life in this country.
My 1st step was learning the language; it took me a bout 8 months until I finally feel confident enough to carry on a conversation with strangers.
During my 8 months of learning the language, I volunteered at a day care, so I could get a little more practice with the English.
I had a little hurtful experience at the day care, when an African-American lady came to me asked me a very fast question. I asked her back, could you repeat please? Then she spoke really slow and loud and said ?If you do not speak English what are you doing here? It was hurtful in 2 ways.
1st I didn't expect an African-American to be so discriminative, considering that they have suffered from a lot of rejection, and second I didn't have enough English skills at the moment to let her know how disrespectful she had been.
After that day I was extremely scared of asking anything to anyone there. I was practically mute.
Finally, one day I got my work permit. The Physical Therapist that worked at the day care and knew me for a little while, offered me a job as an aid for one of her Occupational Therapists. I thought wow, what a great opportunity? so of course I said YES!
It was a part time job, and I thought that was perfect while getting used to this country and it's system. After about 3 months working as an aid, mostly carrying all the bags and stuff for the Occupational Therapist, and waiting for her forever, because I had to drive with her, since the job was about going from school to school treating kids. Well, she treating the kids and me carrying all her lessons and activities, I was very bored, and I wanted to quit. But I finished the school year, and started looking for a job.
I could not find anything. I even went to a staffing solution office where the guy at the front office asked me could I give him a key word for my job search. I said yes, I am bilingual, and he said could I tell him something else, we don't really need bilingual people in America, here people have to speak English., so I got up and left, how arrogant I thought, but it seems that he was right. I could not find a job other than cell phone sales where they wanted a bilingual person, and honestly I have no interest at all in being a telemarketer?
I decided to go to enroll in a Phlebotomy program, a fast program that will teach me technical skills to find a job? I learned to draw blood really good, I graduated, I got my national certification and 3 months later I got a job as an Interpreter in a medical office. Funny huh?
Because I had my phlebotomy skills, I was cross trained and I became a Medical Assistant. I learned to interview patients, filing medical charts, manage the IDX software, I was happy. I was useful, I was helping the community and learning and having a good job. Everything was almost perfect until one day the directors decided to retire and put a young man to be the new and only boss.
I thought it was actually good to bring fresh, young ideas to our office.I guess I was wrong again. He certainly was young, but with a very old time or narrow mind type. He was racist. He didn't like me since the moment he met me and for some reason he also started harassing me and it became so constant that I became afraid of him. I got sick of my nerves and guess what? One day I could not handle the situation any longer and I had to run away, didn't pass any notice, nothing. Just left after almost 2 years of employment.
I was heart broken. I loved the job, I loved the patients. It was like a nightmare. Luckily after only 3 months I found another job. A job I thought I would never take. A customer service rep, working in a cubicle all day receiving calls. I thought I was not going to be able to handle that. But I did it. It became a little tedious all day seated, receiving calls, nothing else. On many occasions, customers were so mad that they started to take it personally and say things like "I want to speak with somebody that can speak English, like in America," or, "I do'?t like how you speak."
For some reason I developed panic attacks every time the phone was ringing. I thought here we go again, somebody is going to get mad because I had an accent. "after several insulting and humiliated moments on the phone, and after my boss heard one call where a guy used the 'F' word to me, he decided to give me just the Spanish calls. I thought it was heaven! It was for a while but I was bored. The job was not rewarding, it was extremely slow. The good thing was my coworkers, my bosses, my salary. Many good reason after all, so I tried to handle it.
The feeling of missing my country and my family was really becoming overwhelming to me. I didn't have time to visit them as often as I wanted, at least once a year.
I decided to look for a job that could give me some of that time, and I found one in the paper for a Spanish Coordinator for a pre-school program. I thought that sounded really good. I sent my resume and they called me the next day, one week later I was signing the papers to start my job the next school year. It was July when I signed the papers, they needed me in August, so I had plenty of time to give my customer position the 2 weeks notice. I did and it was not easy, after 1.6 years I had learned to love the place, the people...it was not easy to say good bye.
I went on Aug 18, the 1st day of my new job as a Spanish coordinator and crash, the director told me they already had a Spanish coordinator so I decided to put you as an assistant on the toddler room with 14 2 year old children. I thought?oh this is not good, but at the same time I reassured myself thinking on the vacation time I could spend with my family, so I decided to continue and see.
It was HELL. PURE HELL.
Just imagine 14,yes 14 children of 2 years old running all over, changing diapers, cleaning rooms, but wait a second, that is not really bad after all, I can really take it as a good personal experience. I continued there, but one second, the director?.she was constantly questioning every thing I did. Why did you do this? What's that? I thought..ok ..she wants to train me really well, but after 2 months the situation was even worse,and I have to say, it was not only with me. She is like that with everybody. She loves to terrorize people and make them feel they always do wrong. She never opens her mouth to say you are doing a good job. Every thing was a big deal, and I mean every little thing. We only had 5 minutes to go to the restroom and she was normally at the door with her watch counting the minutes. No kidding, She also enjoys calling names, she called me 'mentally challenged', slow, lazy, and by then I was actually lucky not to hear what she was calling the other assistants and teachers. The very last thing was the word 'stupid' she actually called me STUPID. I never went back to the school, I just sent a letter explained my separation from the school, practically I did it again, something I didn't want to do, just quit, but I could not take it anymore.
And here I am, 3 weeks after quitting, I am 32 year old woman, with a B.S that is not good in America. The NBCOT does not recognizes it. I have knowledge that doesn't match anyone's interest but me, and I am unemployed. Ahh and with a very low self esteem moment, a moment where the best word to describe me will be 'LOST' I am now with one more scar in my employment history and inside myself.
I am still looking for that job, for that opportunity that makes me wake up every morning with motivation, with hope, not just dragging like I was specially at the Pre-school. I want to find myself, I really don't know what to do, what I really like anymore. I feel awful.