miércoles, 8 de mayo de 2013

Is it possible to get equal integration in times of crisis?

Author: Henriete Wiese
Nationality: Dominican Republic
Director of documentaries
* Series: Stories about skilled immigration and foreign professional women

I should have stayed at home sitting under a palm tree with my high self.  Like it was before arriving to Catalunya almost 9 years ago. Married to a Catalan, the economic crisis in Latin America made us think that coming back to Spain would give us another chance. We were wrong.

The first thing I understood was that I came to a country with a different culture to the rest of Spain. The integration to this new culture came as a matter of urgency.

"The only way you can tear the emigrant label from your chest is to learn Catalan". This sentence from the mouth of the former President of the Catalonian Generalitat, Jordi Pujol, struck me deeply. And right away, I began to learn it. I reached level C with many efforts. Class schedule was not compatible with the jobs I was getting in catering, waiting tables, and cleaning. Most of the jobs had rotating schedules.

I took subsidized recycling courses. I studied the history of this brave people, learned their habits, read its poets and learned how to beat a death Ali-oli (*2).

My careers as a philologist and cinema producer were not useful.  My extensive CV with dominium of five languages was shortening over time. It became a one page in which I confessed to have not lived long enough to deserve a place in the important and competitive field of cleaning.

My nail and the skin of my hands had never before touched any kind of detergents. I injured a shoulder and elbow by the weight of the trays of dishes that I had never before served. And after standing for so many long hours working on my swollen feet, I finally understood that, this country is not made for an old man.

After suffering labor abuse, scams, discrimination, abusive landlords, unfair dismissals, gossipy neighbors and false friends that criticized that the immigrant is not integrated, but they do not invite you for a coffee in order to know how you are on the inside, I took a decision: “the return.”

I am a non-white-immigrant-professional woman and had provided my qualifications, and capacity for work without success in Catalunya. I am leaving this country without frustrations because learning doesn't take up space and getting to know other cultures enriches. So they say.

And so, after almost 9 years of failed immigration a naked woman with no hat returned to her country of origin. I will start all over again somewhere with my almost 50 years full of strength;  where I can dance under a palm tree and see the sun when I open the windows each morning with a loaf of bread under the arm, and my self-esteem high… very high.

Testimony of Henriette Wiese, Cubelles-Barcelona, August 6, 2010.

*1-Casandra Awards are in DRthe equivalent to the Oscar Awards in USA.
*2-Ali-Oli is a typical hand beaten catalonian sauce made with garlic and olive oil.
*3-Dona jove means young lady in catalan.
*4-Iaia means grandmother in catalan.

Henriete Wiese’s profile:
Director and documentalist of Dominican origin, with studies of Psychology and Philology of the University Autonomous of Santo Domingo, UASD, and a postgraduate degree in Literature at the University of Costa Rica, fluent English, German, French, Spanish and Catalan. In 2001 migrated to Catalunya, after being in her country of origin, creative, producer of spots and audiovisuals for advertising, entertainment, documentaries, theater plays, director of television programs, working in shootings of movies, etc., getting to occupy the position of Production Manager of the State Broadcaster Radio Television Dominicana. Author of several documentaries, was nominated several times for the Dominican Republic Casandra Awards(*1) in the Best Documentary category.

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