January 22, 2012

Yes, English is my first language and other aspects of my international life

It just occurred to me this morning, that I lead a very international life on a daily basis....

Today, when my gardener from Pakistan was asking for an advance in his salary and thanking me, I told him I didn't understand something he was saying and if he could repeat it.  He then asked if English was my first language which I replied, yes, it is my first language. (sigh) Although my mother said my first word was 'agua' or water in Spanish, English was my first language according to my records.

Then I went down my list of daily interaction. My live-in nanny is from the Philippines and speaks Tagalog and English. When she speaks Tagalog on the phone or to other nannies, I pick up on the Spanish words and it is fun to guess what she is saying.

My legal assistant for almost two years is from the Dominican Republic originally but has some Irish family and has been in the US a long time. She often tells me sayings in Spanish I have never heard before and some other stuff about voodoo beliefs and other things from DR.  Having worked with her so much inspired me to go to DR last June and check it out. It was a nice bonding experience to have learned a bit more about her country.

I just hired a bookkeeper in Pakistan since she had high reviews and she is closer to my time zone in trying to get stuff done in the next few weeks. So far, so good.

My husband was born in Turkey and has Bulgarian grandparents. We are trying to get Turkish citizenship for myself and my son and I am personally trying to get Turkey into the EU but I know that will take a lot of time to accomplish.

My mom was born in Mexico to American missionaries so I therefore became Mexican through her.

My mother's sister's husband was born in Colombia (I think) but is Spanish and Venezuelan so my cousin is Venezuela, Spanish, American, and might be able to be Mexican. Lucky!

My brother and his wife just moved to Argentina as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar this month.

Between November to January, I was in the UAE, Sri Lanka, Maldives (Stop over), United States, Turkey, and Greece. Yes, my freshly issued passport is starting to fill up quicker than ever before in my life.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I am living in Dubai right now. When I go to the grocery store, I have fun because my food represents the UN. They tell you 3 things: the name of the food, the price per unit, and which country it is from. So I can have Dutch or Moroccan tomatoes, Philippine bananas, Iranian watermelon (haven't bought it yet because afraid of the embargo), Greek olives, UAE yogurt, American apples, Islamic salmon, oops I mean Icelandic salmon, and well the list goes on. Plus, my daily interaction involves Emiraties and expats from India, Pakistan, Philipines, England, South Africa, Ireland, US, etc.

And then, before I forget to include my profession, as an immigration attorney, I speak to people from all over the world on a daily basis in English and Spanish.

So, in the end, I do this so much, I forget how weird it might seem to others. But I probably won't forget being asked if English was my first language.

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