Dear Non-Spanish Speaking Coworkers…

Let me start by clearly stating, I love my language skills. I love that my skills are needed in the workplace and I can be of assistance to many projects in any way that I can. I’m writing to ask that you respect my skills and culture just as much off the call as you do when we are on the call…at least try to do me the favor to my face.

When you say “I wish I could speak Spanish” I really wish you could too. Because honestly, it would make things at work a lot easier. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I forget the proper version of an English phrase or need the translation of a word from Spanish to English because at the moment I truly just forget! I end up feeling pretty foolish when no one is around to help me. It’s not easy keeping up with two languages, this bilingual brain goes on overdrive sometimes and it can be exhausting. How clutch would it be if you could be my back up in that moment? That’s my working environment dream.

You don’t realize this, but I get nervous speaking on the spot in Spanish. I know you need me to do it so I suck it up, smile, and I make sure that the 2 mins you gave me to prepare for this call sufficed as enough time to get my translation points right with you. The pressure is on!  For the future, I would appreciate it if you had some notes written down for me, invited me to a 10 minute meeting, or even schedule me a couple hours before you need my assistance so I can prepare in the best way possible for your call.

Lastly, but certainly not least. Please do not laugh uncomfortably when I say a Latino person’s name in Spanish, read the name of a Latino institution in Spanish, or refer to my heritage and experience in a conversation. It’s a cool thing that I am different. It really shouldn’t make you uncomfortable that you can’t speak the beauty of these names the way they were meant to, you can totally choose to learn Spanish as well. It shouldn’t be funny that I said something you can’t understand. When you talk Harry Potter I NEVER understand, yet I sit and smile politely until that filler conversation is over and our actual meeting can begin. You shouldn’t feel as though you can’t ask me questions. Although I have been laughed at for asking the “obvious” questions in our work setting, I have developed the opposite attitude over the years and enjoy conversations where I can encourage growth and cultural competency.

I am more than a skill set and a tool to leverage your conversations with Spanish speaking people. I am a person of Dominican heritage who is a native Spanish and English language speaker and has stories that are just as awesome as yours, jokes that are funnier (in my very personal opinion), and an immense passion for the work that we do which is why I choose to stop my work for a moment to help you.

All my best.

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