Yesterday as I got out of the Metro station, I realized a man holding a clipboard awkwardly smiling at me standing in my way… My brain was too slow to realize that he was one of those fundraising people and I got swooped up into an introductory conversation with him after asking me for a minute of my time (it’s really never a minute by the way). I’m not sure why I just don’t impolitely walk away from these people… I guess it’s because I wouldn’t want anyone walking away from me if I had something meaningful I wanted to share.
He asked for my name. For some reason I said my real first name, “Farzana” instead of “Eva”—a nickname few people call me by and a name regularly used when the Barista at Starbucks asks.
Our conversation goes somewhat like this:
“Nice name…very uncommon. I’ve never heard it before.”
“Well, it’s actually a very common South Asian name.”
He is silent thinking for a few seconds as I ask what he wants from me because I’m a broke Grad student with no money to offer.
“Farzana…when I think of your name I picture a lady in leopard print in a jungle and a tiger or some wild animal.”
I am in shock… “Excuse me? Is that supposed to be a compliment? Because I’m offended. Good luck with your fundraising.”
I walk away wishing I had more to say to him or I didn’t stop to talk in the first place.
Why don’t fundraisers get cultural competency training?