Diversity 101: Lessons Learned from the Field
It is with great pleasure that I introduce our guest blogger for this week: Crystal Brown. Crystal currently lives in Chicago, IL but spent a considerable amount of time finding herself very at home in Bulgaria. Crystal’s post is interesting because it focuses on her first impressions as an African American Woman living in Bulgaria and her impressions of something we all love: Diversity Training. I felt this blog would be perfect given the previous post by Ezrulie that focused on the joys of the Russian Banya. Please join Crystal as a Travelling Womanists in Eastern Europe. Enjoy!!!
Peace B. Still,
An excerpt from Crystals Blog/Online Journal that covers her travels in Eastern Europe and BEYOND.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I was in Sofia for an entire week of …. Diversity training! Yup diversity training followed me all the way from America to Bulgaria. You know those seminars we got in college and high school teaching us how to be diverse in a diverse world? The ones people tend to fall asleep in or get so angry and offended that they don’t know what to do? Well this workshop was nothing like that. I actually enjoyed myself! I cried the entire week as I confessed to the PC staff all the problems I am having trying to process the fact that people stare at me. For the first time I felt like the staff understood my perspective as an African American in Bulgaria! The PC staff was wonderful and gave me a lot of insight to what people think about me when they see me.
If you read my blog one of my major issues is how I am constantly stared at. Well one of the PC staff pointed out that people might be staring because they are interested in getting to know me. People in Bulgaria don’t see people like me in real life. They are curious to hear what my life is like, who I am, and what I am doing in Bulgaria. Furthermore, the men that yell out to me as I walk down the street might be interested in me in a romantic way. Sounds funny and ditsy but I had no clue what was going on!!! Maybe I should have known this from the beginning but I felt the stares were more hostile than anything else. I think I felt this way because I was bringing extra racial baggage from the U.S. I don’t need to take the staring so personal. However, I will not excuse all of the behavior from Bulgarians towards me! I know that there are some racist people here that hate non-Europeans like that one woman I encountered in my office. No country or groups of people are perfect. As my twin sister would say “You have to deal with people and their issues, if you can’t deal with their issues than don’t deal with them!” I plan on staying in Bulgaria so I guess I have to deal with the issues that are here. Finally I feel like I can breathe i.e. relax!!!!