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Breaking our assumptions

Breaking our assumptions

  • technology,
  • challenges,
  • presentation,
  • fear

When I immigrated to Canada, I expected facing many challenges, but I never thought that technology would be one of them. Technology was part of every different task in this new country unlike what I was used to in my home country. Among all those experiences, there is one incident that haunted me for years and still makes me feel frustrated when using a piece of technology in front of a crowd.

After a year of moving to Canada around 2005, I started going back to school to qualify my degree. In one of my first classes, we were assigned to present to the class about a particular topic. I used our family computer at home to prepare my presentation, burnet it on a CD and brought it to the class. With a quick look around me, I realized that no one is using a CD. Then, I noticed that everyone was using the teacher’s laptop to present. It was a LAPTOP and not a HOME COMPUTER! had never used a laptop before… feeling frustrated, I wondered where I should insert my CD. I quickly scanned the class to see if anyone was using a laptop and find out what I should do with my CD. I felt dumb, really really dumb…

Finally, it was my turn to present. I walked to the front, anxiously sweating and frustrated. When I reached that laptop, I noticed it was different from my classmate's laptop that I had just decoded–it was a MacBook! There was no indication of a CD rom. I was stressed, I was looking at it but couldn’t process my thoughts. Those few seconds felt like years of embarrassment. I finally asked the teacher to help me insert the CD. During my presentation, I was only thinking about how to get that CD out of that machine. I couldn't see the eject button… at the end I had to ask for help again.

An image of a MacBook Pro's CD slot and eject Button - This is a newer model than what was used in my class.

Although the whole experience took less than 20 minutes, it had a lasting impact on me. After many years of experiencing similar challenges, I finally decided to deal with it. I realized that these incidents are not just my fault, they happen because of all the assumptions we make every day. In that class, the teacher had assumed everyone was comfortable using a MacBook. Now, I surrender right from the beginning to break those assumptions. I try to express what I need and ask for help. It is difficult and sometimes very stressful, but it immediately removes the pressure off of me and let me better focus on what needs to be done.