“We don’t rent to people from your country,” he said.
“But you don’t even know who I am,” I replied.
He hung up. And I burst into tears.
I was 17. I was born and raised in Brazil. I decided to leave my home country to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations in Belgium.
I had just moved from far away land and I had to deal with a lot.
A foreign language I didn’t master.
A foreign culture I tried to understand and integrate into.
Managing expenses which I knew nothing about.
I knew I would face challenges and was prepared for it.
But discrimination, I wasn’t prepared for. My grandparents had moved to Brazil from Europe and I did not think discrimination is something I’d face. This was my first encounter. Unfortunately it was not the last.
I felt sorry for myself for a while, and eventually got over it.
I moved to many countries and continents over the next 25 years including New Zealand, Angola, Chile, Mexico and Belgium. Everywhere I went I faced some sort of discrimination. However, they were minor compared with the positive experiences and exposures I had with each country’s uniqueness, very rich culture and diversity.
EVERYONE WANTS TO LIVE A FULFILLING LIFE AND TO DEVELOP MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
After all these years I see a fragment of similarity that runs deep with each human being despite our external differences. Everyone wants a fulfilling life and to develop meaningful relationships.
Seeing any form of discrimination – whether it is related to gender, race, religion, national origins or whatever — still infuriates me. I have, however, learned to look beyond occasional negative experiences that people can bring with their biases and find a common ground to work together.
I still look back at that first experience in Belgium and cringe but I am proud that I stood up and was able to articulate how wrong his thinking was. I strongly feel that everyone deserves to be treated fairly. Speak up and take action if you see any red flags.
Bruna currently lives in Mexico and has decided to make Canada home because of its unparalleled diversity, values of equality and unity that it offers. She is therefore pushing through her dream of bringing her excellent character, training and experience to Canada in the next one year. Bruna can be reached on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bruna-brandaop/)
Bruna writes from Mexico.