Everyday Life: Eu no sou Japons

Nicholas Chieng - Brazil


February 20, 2015

You eventually start to think that you’re adapting well, picking up the language more and more, and smelling the Brazilian coffee every morning, but one instance of insecurity and self-doubt can bring all your progress down.

Let’s start with defining the term micro-aggression (subtle prejudices): commonplace, dailysocial exchanges in which someone from a dominantculture says or does something, without intended harm, that belittles or alienates someone from a marginalized group.

On the first day I arrived in Florianopolis, our team leaders Belisa, Isabela, Belkis, and Daniel took all the Fellows to a restaurant by the lagoa (lake) where we ate ensalada, friedpolenta, and batata frita. I couldn’t believe that I was finally here in Brazil, breathing the Brazilian air, looking at the crisp blue of the lagoa, and eating some of Brazil’s iconic lanches (snacks). As I was leaving the restaurant area, I heard “Arigatou”, but perhaps, it was “Obrigado”; both the former and latter mean “Thank You”, but I turned around and I heard a firm “Arigatou.” I replied “De nada” and walked away.

Three weeks into In-Country Orientation, I was walking home alone at around 9:30 P.M.I was walking the same route home as I have been for the past three weeks. Heading for the next left at the end of the intersection, I felt a tug on my left shoulder from behind. My first thought was Oh my Buddha‰ is this how I die? Alone in a foreign city?” Then I turned around and there was a stranger with a girl leaning on his right arm. They both met my gaze and loudly said “Konichiwa!” and “Arigatou”.

Nicholas Chieng