A few weeks ago I took an Uber in Washington DC to get to the airport. As we drove, I struck up a conversation with the driver. I like to hear about people’s lives while I’m sitting in the back seat, and I always learn something new – plus I often get to challenge my own biases!
Turns out my driver that day is from Cameroon, has been in the USA for several years, and drives on the weekend to supplement his income. He is in school – studying to be an electrical engineer. In Cameroon, he was a lawyer. We talked about language barriers and his realization that it would just be too big a hurdle for him in that profession. That made me mad. But then I learned that he prefers working with his hands, so this is an opportunity to do something he loves. Bonus!
His wife is a nurse. She too had to retrain when she arrived (things they don’t tell you when you apply to immigrate). In Cameroon she was a Nurse Practitioner – a position which holds more responsibility than a registered nurse. But that would take another few years to re-certify.
They have 3 children. And luckily his mother is able to spend 6 months of the year with them to help with childcare.
Every day, we assess people based on what we see, what we think we see, and what they are doing. And we make decisions based on these surface qualities and actions – and we miss a whole lot in the process.
This man who is studying to be an electrical engineer has a law background.
How amazing is that, and how could this contribute to his work?
His wife is a nurse, but with a nurse Practitioner background which gives much more responsibility. What insights may she have about a patient and their needs? What could she offer if she is acknowledged for the background she has?
Other qualifications and careers aside, how else do we judge others based on what we see and the little we know about them?
And what are we missing as a result?