Surviving as Women of Color Abroad

Yerika Reyes
September 25, 2015

I could write a post about how great my program is, but frankly it is not great. Many people in this program come from white upper-middle class to upperclass backgrounds. Although I know this coming in, because that's what transitiong to college was, it's as if I am a first year in college again. Many of the people in my program are incredibly insensitive to issues of low-income people of color.  I do not blame them for not being exposed to people who challenged them, and pushed them to think outside of themselves and their communities. However, I do think that this program does not provide any support for people like me. This program has led me to feel very isolated. 

Below I have uploaded a screen shot of a Facebook post posted in the IES group. People found it humurous that gangs don't exist here and that it was okay to joke about. When I spoke about it, the person felt attacked. It's absurd to me that he felt so entitled to make a joke like this but believed I shouldn't even be allowed to respond publicly. It''s so painfully ironic that he believed racist jokes are fine, but pointing out/mentioning racist policies by an organization he belongs to is a "personal attack." This is just one example of the many things people say off-hand. I do not blame them for their ignorance, but it is hard to be in a place where in order to survivie and keep going you have to keep quiet. I feel as if I cannot freely voice my opinion or I will see as the person who brings up race, gender, class. The person who is "too politically correct" for everyone. This program does not have any dialogue on safe spaces, or identity.

Furthermore the classes are taught in a matter that that highlight the types of students that are apart of this program. During class the instructor told us we should "divest our personal investments," and called us the "Haves" because we were studying abroad. However, I am a low-income Latina. I was raise my single mom who is a janitor. We do not have investments. Although I am privileged to be in this program, I am not a part of the "Haves" which conotes not privilege but financial wealth. Again, I understand that this is typical of the people that are taught here, so I understood. However, I did not even feel comfortable to disagree. 

In many ways my voice is stifled here. I am not sure how I will survive three months in a place like this. I hope I survive. I will try and post self-care tips next, because the hostility in this enviroment can be overwhelming. It is not Germany, but other Americans that have made my stay so far, quite unpleasant. 


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Yerika Reyes

<p>My name is pronounced like &quot;Erika&quot; (Erica and Erykah) with a &quot;y&quot; in front of it. I am the daughter of Honduran immigrant parents, and my hometown is Chicago. I am a first generation undergraduate at Pomona College. In my free time you will find me connecting with people, writing, reading, occasionally attempting to knit, watching videos on YouTube, and enjoying all things nerd.</p>

2015 Fall
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