Antonio Velásquez, my immigrant father, who came to this country (legally , you have to say that these days) with nothing, not knowing the language, serving this great country in the military and then eventually, with the GI bill, graduating from college (at age 32) recently passed away. My father lived to see me go to college and graduate, earning a BA and MBA from two great schools, and watched me marry a fabulous woman and have three wonderful children together and start my own firm – The Diversity Training Group. DTG has thrived for nearly 15 years.
I think many people are tired of the diversity issues percolating and re-circulating in the workplace, marketplace, and society-at-large, but way too many people just don’t realize that these diversity and inclusion issues are going unacknowledged, unresolved and “will come back over and over again.” The question is not should we fear diversity fatigue but why are so many people so fatigued?
Beate. That’s how I answer frequently asked question about my name especially since I‘ve relocated from Northern Germany to the South East of the United States more than one year ago. At this point of the conversation, people hear my German name and realize that I’m a part of the new diverse community of Chattanooga TN. But just to say Beate is only half of the truth. Probably 95 percent of the members of Western cultures have at least two names: a first and a last name. I do so, too. Beate is my first name. My last name is worse. But let’s talk about my last name later, along the lines of good things first.
I started to write this article while I was waiting to board a plane to Germany, my native country. My topic is helpfulness. I want to define the cultural differences around giving assistance between members of different nations. I want to share a few experiences here in the United States. They show a level of caring that’s really new to me.
My grandmother Hilda passed away when she was 95 years old. Her funeral was one of the most impressive events I‘ve ever joined. According to my feeling, all the citizens of her and my hometown had come to the cemetery. She was born and she died at the same small town in Northern Bavaria, Germany, which might have been one reason for her fame. She had never left her hometown longer than for a day trip. Another occasion could have been the way she decided to spend her time and live her life.
Members of the European culture usually have a settled way of life. In their eyes, Americans are admirable models of mobility. If in Germany, where I come from, a person becomes unemployed, he will look for a new job in his ancestral city first. Only when that is unsuccessful will reach out to other parts of Germany to look for a new career. Or not, it depends on lots of circumstances. People are ingrained in their communities. Visiting is easier than moving and nobody has to take an airplane to visit friends and family. To cross Germany by car even at its widest point will take you nine hours.
As a German, I never thought deeply about the things that American people value. I heard about their preference for comfortable footwear and that they love burgers. When I moved to Chattanooga, I realized it’s true. Lots of folks wear tennis-shoes, no matter if it is with jeans, slacks or skirts. And as an almost vegetarian, I learned to value juicy grilled beef. I’m sure I will miss that back in Germany. After two years living in the US, I notice more differences between the attitudes of American and German people than I had imagined
If you are a mono-lingual American, it can be helpful to know how native speakers of other languages often pronounce English, so you can understand them more easily. China is a huge country, and Mandarin is spoken differently in various parts of China. For some people, Mandarin is actually their second language, not their first. People in India speak somewhere between 780 and 1683 different languages, although reportedly only 21 are officially recognized.
Have you ever had difficulty understanding someone’s pronunciation, even if he or she knows how to speak English? It can be very frustrating for both the speaker and the listener.
To honor the success of Asian Americans in this country, I would like to highlight the professional lives of five prominent Asian female executives. They have demonstrated a sense of pride in their own heritage and that this has not diminished their professional success in the western world. They are among the most powerful women in the U.S.