Is the world ready for Global Citizens?

To all my paisanos, Mexicans living abroad: keep it up.

I think of myself as a global citizen. I have lived in five countries, worked in four, in America, Europe and the Middle East.

For all the expats- as they call us, who have decided to live abroad: I know that we all have different roles, different levels of engagement with society in the different countries and cities that we have been in. It may look like we are having an amazing time living in different places and travelling the world. And we are having it! We know this is a blessing and we embrace it and enjoy it day by day. We love posting photos of our latest discoveries and spreading out the word of how is that we have gotten to the places that we are.

To all my paisanos, Mexicans living abroad: I am very proud of you for your great effort and for representing Mexico to the world.

But what I am going to talk about today is something that none of us really posts/says out loud: it has been damn hard. Really. We need to prove our worth twice. We need to adapt to very different cultures and uses and customs.

Language

We are made fun of our accents – yes, no matter how many years I have been living abroad, I still mix up words from Spanish, French and Italian into some fine new English words that I come up with 😉 But I have witnesses that my speech is easier to understand than Northern Irish accent.

Having been educated in America and Europe, you may think that my written English is perfect. And it is. Most of the time… I had one of the toughest times of my life writing up my PhD thesis- 350 pages of content.  I was very lucky having the guidance that I had (an Emeritus Professor and authority in the country I was based in my academic area). But this was tough, and it was never enough. One of them had a very hard accent. It took me a couple of years to crack it! No, I wish I was kidding. I was a national writing winner and public speaker champion back home, and here I was, struggling to communicate with others. Things have changed over the years, I am a speaker and have presented and given talks in various countries, continents, for both industry and academia, but even now I still have second thoughts in certain interactions with people.

Discrimination

This is a tough one. I have witnessed and been target of discrimination many times. In the workplace, while I travel, etc. I have documented most of these cases. Once, one of my closest friends gave me what he thought was a compliment: oh, but you don’t look Mexican… I do!  Hanging out with my housemates back in my early PhD student days. I was the only non-European. We went dancing. One of them just stared at me and came close to tell me: If you keep dancing like that no (Insert nationality of the people I was with) girl will like you.

In the Europe that I have experienced, people may just underestimate your performance because you are not European. So we have to prove our worth once and again and again, and even witness others receiving opportunities that we know we have won and deserve. Promotions and exemptions come faster to others that may not necessarily be more qualified or have had a better performance. For example, in Ireland, foreigner’s previous professional experience doesn’t count, but a national’s work experience packing food at Tesco’s does. I have recently heard a colleague being assessed not on the basis of her performance, but her nationality.

And one may wonder, why do you guys leave your home countries? Because we dreamt of something better. I personally believe that I can change the world for the better and I have committed myself to education and the organizations that I lead and am part of to move forward to use technology and innovation for a better future. Don’t we all believe that bringing worldwide talent together will foster innovative thinking? But it is not as easy as that.

Border Wall Prototypes Are Unveiled (Source: New York Times 2017)

But not all is bad, and we always smile!

In fairness, we have been designed to thrive in the adversity. To be the centre of our social scene. We have incredible creativity and are so used to think outside the box that we come up with great projects, and are great add-ons for any place that we touch. I have seen my friends transforming industries in other countries, and we are all writing history from different areas. We work hard. And when we don’t want to work anymore… we work harder.

It seems like it is a resistance competition. It does not matter; we have been designed to thrive in adversity. Having Aztec or Mayan blood running through our veins, we will not claudicate. There will always be ways and we will find them.

To all my paisanos, Mexicans living abroad: Thanks for shining.

I woke up in Paris

I woke up in Paris.

It is a warm summer morning. I am exhausted after travelling. I couldn’t sleep again. There is a feeling of anxiety that has been unsettling me. I am not quite sure of what is it about.

I woke up in Charles de Gaulle Airport. for the 7th time this year.

Oh my dear Paris. You used to be my absolute love and now I feel that an endless halo of melancholy covers you.

So many memories. Good and bad.

I have not been not even once this year in La France, and to think how many times I used to devour you, every month, every season…

This morning, I decided to recreate you and your tastes. A petite pistachio macaroon from Laduree to effortlessly compliment my morning espresso… some things should never change. Routine, créatures d’ habitude et de routine, this is what we are.

Once my coffee is as it should be, I start writing in my red moleskine – a present. I cannot reach flow otherwise.

The sun is rising and shines over my face. I smile. I am hiding under my red cap. I am happy reflecting on my own observations as if I were to discover the secrets of this life. I think of you. The memories of what should be and it is not saddens me… what should have been and will never be…

I woke up in Paris.

How is it to live in Saudi Arabia? Exploring culture and the role of women

Exploring culture and women

The Saudi culture is amazing. I continue to be positively surprised by their people. I can hear the call for prayer just now. I close my eyes and feel transported to the mystical middle east. How lucky I am for being able to witness all of this.

Where I come from, family values are the most important nucleus which brings us together. We keep placing our bet on family to develop a healthy society. Saudis are family oriented too. In that, there is something else that has me positively impressed, their sense of belonging among their peers.

 

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Janadriyah 2017

 

One could see a sisterhood among ladies, rather than the so secondary-school mindset of some Westerns who have failed to develop an identity of their own and keep trying to emulate that of the ones they follow. A sisterhood that has no badness in it. A sisterhood which acknowledges the differences of the young ladies and embraces them. This is a support network where all members are pushed to accomplish the best version of themselves. Where each member develops their self-identity.  They also, of course, have fallen victims of the digital revolution and are struggling to recreate themselves keeping their authenticity. I admire that.

The men. It is amazing how free they behave. They are comfortable singing, dancing, enjoying themselves among friends, among their family. Their sense of belonging is so strong that, they stand next to each other, and grow together.

 

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Traditional dance from Asser to preserve our culture and heritage, reaffirming national identity

 

Surely other aspects could be considered on this post. But I like observing people and people’s behaviour at an individual and family level. I like to observe behavioural patterns and what makes them happy.

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Living in Saudi Arabia

 

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View of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from the Globe

 

Having travelled the world, my friends ask me why is that I have decided to move to Saudi Arabia. Few can understand the mysticism in this land.

Saudi Arabia is a welcoming country. Saudis are people eager to learn and advance their society. Aren’t we all? After four years of living here, of learning their language, their culture and their traditions, I can see the similarities between Mexicans and Saudis. These similarities bring us closer and help me to empathise with them. I am a global citizen, after all. We should all be at this stage.

 

 

😍

A photo posted by Arte Misa (@arte.misa) on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:52am PST

 

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