Social Media Director
It’s no secret that I’m a born and raised New Englander, and wicked proud of it too!
I’ve been told I am quite adaptable, so stick me in a place where I can blend in and I often get mistaken as a native. Boston, Haverhill, Hampton Beach, Brattleboro, Province, Bath, Kittery… I’ve even had residents from Montreal and Quebec assume I was French Canadian and nervous to talk to me because they thought I didn’t speak English.
What’s a common factor among these places? They are all dominated by a heavily caucasian population. Cue “me,” an obviously Caucasian, heterosexual, Christian female. I could get into silly finite details like how I have an olive undertone and I often get mistaken as French when family backgrounds come into play (fun fact: I’m more Native American and Italian American than anything else!). When it comes down to it, my friends in middle school classified me as “an average white chick,” minus the Starbucks and Ugg boots.
I’ve always surrounded myself with friends and family who did not share the same majority standing; even now, my two closest friends in college are from Nepal. I’ve never stuck out more than people looking at my rainbow-dyed hair in high school until this past summer, when it was very clear that I did not belong.
Thailand was an amazing experience. I loved the music, the almost-always-gluten-free food, the people and hidden adventure spots. I noticed a difference between my home and the Shanghai Airport immediately: not one person shared my skin color and not a lot of people spoke English.
I’m actually quite familiar with people speaking other languages around me, but I had never not been able to verbally communicate with others around me before. It wasn’t until a few days in Bangkok when I noticed some difficulties with safety and my own inner confidence.
I have always had an interest in South Asian cultures and mythology so I loved the new experiences, but I found myself nervous to speak to others. I was scared of public transportation. I often needed to find secluded areas to take some deep breaths, and I never was able to have a real, meaningful conversation with someone.
“English? Where are you from?”
“The United States.”
“America?! I know California!”
Then I would proceed to tell them the location of New Hampshire and how it snows… a lot.
Only one person had been negative towards me for the color of my skin, and others were always excited to hear me try to say various terms and wear handmade clothing. The kindness was amazing but something was still uncomfortable being alone. I finally understood why my friends from home or college were excited to see someone who looked like them.
The moment I saw caucasian faces at the project I volunteered at, I felt like I was home. Even if there were only a few of us from the U.S.
What did I learn? Being a minority doesn’t mean that you are automatically subjected to horrible treatment. Both groups have to respect one another and show that they are just another person. Learn from one another. I had a huge problem with my self-confidence and was intimidated by the mass of Thai people, but once I reached the city of Khon Kaen, I realized some people were intimidated by my presence as well. Some school kids ran to me to ask about my camera, and were very friendly after deciding I was a nice person. Others were too afraid to speak to me because they felt insecure in their English-speaking abilities.
Never hold back on life-changing experiences because you are scared of what others around you will do or say. I’m always going to stick out in my travels over the big blue, but the key is being confident in who you are and spreading love to those around you.
Angelique Inchierca can be
contacted at Ainchierca@kscequinox.com