Being Culturally Sensitive about Cultural Insensitivity

Jessica Chai - Ecuador


March 26, 2015

The weekend was off to a poor start. I had spent the past few days hunkered down in bed with shooting stomach pains. I hadn’t eaten any substantial food at least as long. My host mom, increasingly worried, tried to tempt me out of my room with promises that food and exercise would cure me faster than anything. It was finally on Sunday that I dragged myself out of bed for a deceased uncle’s funeral service. I tottered through the mass and with my family, left for lunch at a relative’s house.

That’s where the trouble started. It wasn’t the stares that bothered me‰ÛÓmost of the relatives didn’t know me and it wasn’t everyday in Ecuador that a Chinese girl walks into your dining room. The whispers didn’t trouble me either‰ÛÓI knew it was just curiosity. But sitting down to be served, a distant aunt gawked at me in astonishment, looked around the table and proclaimed in a tone of hilarity: I hope she knows how to eat!”

Jessica Chai