Essay: A Background or Story so central to my Identity

I have had a limited social contact with people from different religious or cultural backgrounds than mine. At my college, all the students were from the same city as I was. Due to the lack of information about diverse cultures I was always took a lot of pride in my culture and people. This pride had gone to an extent that I had become disrespectable of other cultures and people. I thought that all other people were not my equal.

During my school days I was assigned to volunteer as a receptionist at the central library at my home town. I was very excited to do the first ever job of my life and help people at the library. The day I went to the library to join as a volunteer, to my surprise the manager was a person from Nigeria. I could not believe that this person I going to be my boss as he was not a local but a Nigerian. If I had any option I would have refused to work at the library but the volunteer work was mandatory. I had to start working halfheartedly.

During the first day at the library, I must confess that I had very little respect for the manager. I can say with the utmost certainty that he was the most supportive person I have ever seen but what could have I done? I was fixated at the thought that I and my people are superior and we deserve all the respect in the world. He was trying his best to orient me to the tasks I was supposed to do but I was paying very little attention. I believe that he eventually became aware of my behavior. Still he did not feel bothered and was performing his duties as usual. That day was like a hell for me, working for a foreigner who was “inferior” to me, were my thoughts.

In the evening I discussed this matter with my father and told him that I can’t work under such a person. I asked him if foreigners should be allowed to take our jobs. Are they not dangerous to disrupt our cultural values? My father looked at me a smile. He said that do you know the building that we are living in was designed by an African architect and the contractor who build it was from India? I said what’s the issues in that? Didn’t we pay them in full? My father said it’s not about paying someone for the job that they do. It’s about respecting the contributions that are made to our society by these foreigners. They leave their families behind them at their home countries and come here agreeing to jobs that we as locals don’t do due to the lower financial benefits. We should appreciate them not degrade them.

I was thinking about my behavior with towards the library manager, what his response was and what my father said about the contribution foreigners were making to our society all night. I felt ashamed of my behavior and the level of my thinking. I realized that the problem was not with the Nigerian manager or any other person with a different cultural or religious background than mine. The problem was with me. I needed to change my thought process. I had to change as a person and not others. I decide to apologize to the manager in the morning.

The next morning I went to the library. The manager welcomed me with a smiling face. I smiled back at him and straight away explained my previous behavior and requested him to accept my apology. He accepted my apology with a happy heart.

I believe that the two months that I had spent as a volunteer at that library have changed me as a person. I have become more open to diverse cultures and enjoy to work with people from other countries and cultures. I have become respectful of others who do not share my cultural values or religion. The life has become easier for me. I feel myself to be eligible to be a part of a multicultural team as a professional. I enjoy to travel to other countries and find it easy to adjust and make friends. If he library episode had not had happened with me, I think I would have never been the person who I am today.