Congratulations to Karie Records, CHT, recipient of the 2007 Wesley Watkins Scholarship Award
Writing about cultural diversity is personally difficult. I believe it’s because today there is so much emphasis on being politically correct. I finally told myself to speak from my heart. After all, that’s why I got into dialysis in the first place.
My name is Karie Records. I work in a small dialysis unit in Eastern Oregon. I’ve been a patient care technician for over 5 years. What I enjoy most about my job are the people. We have patients from several backgrounds, Native American, Hispanic, Samoan, and Caucasian.
We talk about diversity between cultures but there’s also diversity within cultures. The day we had the Mexican Pride parade in Hermiston, I was suprised by the divisions among the Hispanic population. Some felt that they have worked hard to be legal citizens and others should do the same. Still others went out and joined the parade when they could. I’ve seen the Native Americans have cultural issues amongst the different tribes on the same reservation. Two ladies who rode together three days a week would often quarrel with each other. The names that they had for each other were quite interesting.
My personal experience has created nothing but growth towards having more understanding towards each culture by working so closely with each person. One of my patients was a Hispanic lady who would teach me a new Spanish word related to her care every week. She got a big kick out of me trying to roll my r’s. It always made her smile just to know I was making an attempt even if it was a feeble one. I could only picture myself and my family in another country trying to speak the language, let alone trying to provide for them at the same time. I’m happy to say she recently had a kidney transplant. We didn’t have to speak the same language to share the joy, hugs, and smiles between us as she hugged me and thanked me for my care.
I had a very special relationship with a Native American patient who passed away a few months ago. She used to share little sayings that her father taught her growing up. “If no one gives you flowers, throw them at yourself.” I really miss her. She reminded me of my grandmother.
My grandmother’s grandmother was an Indian girl rescued from a massacre and raised by white settlers. She was raised to feel ashamed of her heritage. I am only about one-eigth Indian blood but I still feel the sting when people make racial slurs.
It’s easy to look at the differences in the cultures but I find it better to look for the commonalities we share. We all want to be loved and respected and treated with dignity. It reminds me of a book I read to my granddaughter, by Mem Fox. “Joys are the same, and love is the same. Pain is the same, and blood is the same. Smiles are the same, and hearts are just the same whoever you are, wherever we are, all over the world.”