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.

domingo, 5 de mayo de 2013

Between two worlds

Author: Lessy Gabriela Jakiwara Grández.
Nationality: Peruvian
Degree in Sociology
Diploma of Advanced Studies in Sociology of Public Opinion and Mass Culture
* Series: Stories about skilled immigration and foreign professional women

I got up in the morning and I went to my child's room; 10 months and medium, a beautiful baby  that filled my days of tiredness, love and joy. That day I went to work after a year: 16 weeks of maternity leave, several months more of leave of absence and a fundamental change in my life: being a mother. I ate breakfast quickly and nervously and as I walked briskly to the station to catch the train, I was frowning and with a heavy heart.

At home it was my child, my mother should have arrived the day before to take care of him, but due to administrative problems and setbacks she could only get to Madrid the next day, so I had to ask for help from my mother in law. My blood pressure rose at the thought that she was an old woman. I wondered: Will she be able to take good care of my child?, Will my child be OK?, What if he gets sick, what if my mother in law does not know to care? And if there's something wrong in my absence ?.What anxiety!. I was the one who had to cut the umbilical cord is not my baby. How difficult situation! ..

I boarded the train thinking only of my children and his welfare, I made the transfer from one train to another mechanically, because I knew the way perfectly, everything going on around me was irrelevant, I was alone with my thoughts, all the way I could not be quiet even though I tried.

Finally I arrived in San Sebastian de los Reyes, that long road and each time I walked away more than my son. I came to my workplace after ..... One hour and 45 minutes, everything was about the same, cubicles for each Call center operator, the same tasks and almost the same people, except some new workers required by the new campaigns. There was much work in the area of ​​telemarketing, because we were on holiday season. On one hand I felt some satisfaction to return to the workplace and get away from my home life, but on the other hand I was worried about leaving my son at home. However, I did not feel at ease, I could feel the stress that existed in that place, more clearly than before ... moodiness and tension felt in the environment.

In the rest of my day I called my mother in law
'Hello how are you? How is Fernandito?.
'All right, he's a little hot, I think he has a fever, but do not worry, okay, keep in calm.
Well, if the temperature rises you call me, okay?
-Okay she answered.
The hours passed and were nearing the end of my work day, the last break I called my mother in law again:
- What's up, how's the baby?
The temperature has increased and he vomited, he has 39.5º.
- Then ask permission and I go back home, I told her.
  And she answered: Okay.

The way back home was longer than the way up, my heart sank within me. When I left the train station, almost ran to my house, when I arrived I took my child in my arms, he was very feverish, his face red and his eyes especially shiny; he looked like he'd missed, despite to stay with my mother in law and meet her, the child had noticed my absence for several hours for the first time in his life.

Shortly after my dear husband came too worried, asking calmly and quietly, his face white and rosy cheeks expressed concern, we spent the whole night awake, because the child had gastroenteritis as confirmed by the pediatrician in the morning. That afternoon my mother came from Lima, capital of Peru, leaving my brothers and the whole family to visit and meet her grandson Spaniard-Peruvian synthesis of my adventure of crossing the borders of my country and of my desire to know more the world.

The grandmothers chatting animatedly as they barely knew each other because of the distance that separates the continents, but with a common concern: the health of the grandson. My child consumed all my energy then, as a new mother, I was afraid to take him in my arms and feel that he had become very thin in a few hours, his gaunt face and weakness of his body showed the terrible scourge of the disease.

That night my husband and I did the math to see if it was worth and it was imperative that I work and we decided by mutual agreement and without doubt it would be better for me to stay at home until the child grow a little more and see the best time to rejoin the work environment in a better time for everyone, that's my dream, that's my hope.

Brief career summary
Lessy Gabriela Jakiwara Grández
My career is varied, here in Spain and in Peru. I have a degree in sociology, I have done doctoral studies in Sociology of Public Opinion and Mass Culture at University Complutense of Madrid, I have obtained the Diploma of Advanced Studies in this area.
In Perú I have worked as Administrative Manager of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru collaborating in the realization of the Ruta Quetzal-Argentaria on his expedition to Peru in 1995. Also, I have done administrative work at the School of Fine Arts of Peru and done social diagnosis for the NGO "Solidarity March" in the outskirts of Lima. Besides, I have worked as a teacher of the pilot's degree in the School "Alfonso Ugarte" in Lima. In Madrid I worked as telephone interviewer at several call centers and as a cultural mediator in the NGO "Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Liberty" (MPDL).