minority report

so, minority was a word i understood theoretically throughout high school and university.  i was definitely in the majority for the first 24 year of my life.  white; middle-ish class; working parents; awkwardness during adolescence; puppy love type situation etc…

when i moved to new zealand for teacher’s college in 2006 it was the first time i was in the minority: i was a foreigner.  though things weren’t so difficult, i was still in the majority race-wise and consider new zealand, scotland and canada to all have an understanding about a neighbouring country which has significant influence.  it had its difficult moments but over all it was a great experience.  even before i touched down in christchurch i was told by a kiwi presenter/recruit person for my school that i wouldn’t be ‘special’ in nz because there are loads of canadians there.  i guess i was prepared not to be special, my parents had already taught me about those better and worse off than me.

i moved back to canada in 2007 and went back to being the majority in many ways but i suppose it was my first taste of not fitting into the cookie cutter shaped like jayne.  i had picked up some lingo from the wee country and brought it back with me, i can’t even remember specific words at this point.  i felt it was really semantics and that people knew what i meant but in my home town there wasn’t much tolerance for words outside of the norm.  one friend was surprised that i hadn’t really changed and would say the same when i returned from scotland later.

in 2009 i hit scotland.  my hopes were high.  i landed a job within 48 hours of being there.  it was a waitressing gig that paid approximately £150/week.  not enough.  i ended up doing that for a few months before picking up something more solid.  but that’s not why i mention scotland.

while i was there i was definitely an outsider in some respects.  i had great difficulty getting jobs after a school i worked in closed down.  i was once asked in an interview for a geography post why i had travelled so much.  go figure.  even better than all that was when i asked someone i met from england why they chose scotland; this was asked with bushy tailed and bright eyed enthusiasm because i loved the place so damn much.  i was met with coldness and possibly a sort of scoff sound indicating how dare i ask someone from the uk why they would choose another bit of the uk to live.  i couldn’t believe that a happy question would turn into such animosity.  ah well. lesson learned.

by the time 2011 came around i figured i had the living abroad thing down.  the truth is i had not one clue.

i arrived in nigeria without much in the way of serious research beforehand.  i was in the minority in a number of ways.  i was white, single at age 29, a foreigner, non-religious and an outspoken woman.  the funny thing is i was offered work in sudan and turned it down because i was worried about my safety.  i read an article about a foreign teacher naming a teddy bear ‘muhammad’ and getting in serious trouble.  i figured i was too mouthy for the place.

i’ve mentioned before that there is a steep learning curve here and that is true.  oddly though, being a racial minority here doesn’t phase me most of the time.  i notice it more when i am in the uk or canada visiting friends and relatives.  i notice that i am again in the majority.  i notice that i go unnoticed.

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