Clara on being different … is she really?

Clara was young and thought she was not naïve.

Coming from a big family, she thought she knew the different stages of life by observing her parents, siblings and many aunts and uncles go through it. So when it was time for her to be in the world she knew she’s ready to let go of the home she feels protected and venture into the unknown.

Life was very good to Clara. She’s given responsibilities she knew she could do and eventually proved to herself and others that she is ready to move up the ladder and maybe move to another country. After several years honing her skills and getting her network bigger, the offer to move came. Although when asked by the HR department months before she already expressed her desire to experience new culture and challenges.

The new place was unknown to her, but she read a lot about Africa. There she felt coming from a small island in the Pacific; the continent was a mystery. In fact, she only thought all the people living in Africa are darker than her – called it even “black continent” and she got the scolding she never had from a dear friend.

She was assigned to a country in the sub-Saharan region and was given the responsibility to oversee three projects in the middle of the bush – an exciting prospect she knew she can do but how was another question.

Clara thought she was the only Asian girl in the country. She experienced first-hand how it is to be discriminated, to be stared at and called many names other than her own. They never guessed where she’s from so they always assumed she were from China and talked as if Clara can understand cling, clang clung!

Until she met others – other than the dark skinned African people she had worked. The new group of people are not so much like her but also different. They are white – European and American white but there are those also from the Pacific brown like her. She was happy to know other “different” people, and she doesn’t feel so much alone.

The clamor to be with her kind was strong. Being based in the bush weeks before she sees other people made her want to go back to the capital more if work allows it. The travel took 12 hours and to stay the weekend was not practical, so it was always planned around official trips to enjoy the luxury of being with what she called her kind.

Clara starts to question her motives when going back to the capital; it doesn’t seem right, but every time she meets others she goes back to work in the bush excited and ready to tackle the work and the loneliness of living alone until she meets her kind again.

But it still doesn’t seem right?

The problem starts when we set ourselves apart from where we are, in the case of Clara is from who she’s with. One will think they are immune to life’s tragedy because they with their kind but it’s not true.

Being different opened Clara’s eyes to the reality of how it is in the world – outside her comfort zone, being with people other than who she knew.

When she moved to Africa, she experienced what many people she knew experienced from where she’s from, and it didn’t felt good in the beginning but eventually accepting that we are all different even if we have same white, brown, black colored skin we still are different. Even when Clara thinks she’s with her “kind” there still exists discrimination for many other reasons than her skin color. 

Article first appeared at


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