Outnerded

or should that be exnerded? The past two days have been busy with a technical conference, where I found myself one amongst the 2100 attendees. I came home tonight with a serious case of grilled cheese brains. I’m sitting here eating my really delicious lentil soup and waiting somehow for the brains to come back into focus.

I noticed especially at the end of today, after three technical sessions in Dutch, I was really tired. My vocabulary had certainly been added to. Yesterday, I went early in the morning, left at 1045 to ride to my Dutch lesson, went from there to the Hague to a customer and then went back to the conference.

During my Dutch lesson, Paul gave me a book for first names – which will be exceptionally useful if I play Proper Name Scrabble with GG since she beats me easily when we play in Dutch. He also gave me the Holland Memory game that his kids used to play. In theory, this kind of drill will help me keep things in order – or prevent early dementia. 😉 And lastly, he gave me a children’s book from 1935 called “Our Little Friends of the Netherlands Dirk and Dientje” by one Miss Francis Carpenter. It’s 200 pages and I was easily through 80 of them yesterday on the train.

I am seeing Little C tomorrow morning and I plan to bring Memory with me. I think we could turn this into something quite amusing. It is too bad it will be early morning, otherwise we could make a drinking game out of it.

I walked out of a session today because of the presenter’s slides. He was talking about testing native and hybrid apps and he used a photograph of indigenous people to make his point. At first I thought I misunderstood, but then I realized I didn’t. Then he made a few other socially awkward remarks and I decided that I wasn’t going to waste more time out of my life by staying in his session.

I went back to the main building and ran into someone I know from the same company as the presenter. I told him about the slide I had just seen. And then he tells me he knows that slide, it’s a really popular image in their company. I was not okay with that at all. So, I laid it out what precisely was offensive about the slide and using people’s heritage for visuals. He did listen but I am not entirely sure he understood why I was not thrilled. I’m going to follow up with the speaker himself.

It reminded me again of why the IT field can be so unwelcoming to anyone who is different, whether that is based on gender, age, ethnicity, whatever. Because the majority of people in it don’t stop to think that when they do things like this, however unintentional, it makes the industry seem even less inclusive. The discussion about the slides then when into the discussion about Zwarte Piet (not by my doing) – which I will spare you the details of.

I have privilege, I’m aware of that as well. Being able to use that privilege has made things easier for me – for example when I need laptops for code camps for women – where I work gives me access to resources that others may not have. Or that I am here on a visa that is directly related to the type of work I do. Or that I can have a private teacher for Dutch instead of having to wait for an opening in the municipal classes. And it’s shaped my life in a million other ways, I know that. I wasn’t going to let this one go by.

 

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