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November 28, 2022 37 mins

Ralph – a Marine vet, first generation Dominican American – was the manager of the package center at Columbia University, which is where I went to school for undergrad as a scholarship kid. An unexpected bonding over Spanish led to conversations with him that helped me when I wanted to drop out. He describes his upbringing in Washington Heights as a game of ‘Cops and Robbers’ and then we rehash our early encounters, unpacking the assumptions we made about each other. 

“I think the world would be a better place if we treated each other the way we wanna be treated. If you're going through a hard time, you would want somebody to be empathetic and we should do that back, especially at that place, right? I got that.” –Ralph

 

Creator & Host: Maria Fernanda Diez 

Executive Producers: Gisselle Bances, Anna Stumpf, Nikki Ettore 

Producer: Pablo Cabrera, Arlene Santana 

Associate Producer: Claudia Marticorena

Original Theme Music: Tony Bruno

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
I think as I get older, because of growing up
with nothing, I'm super grateful for what I have, but
I also have learned not to limit myself. It's important
to be grateful for what you have, but I also
know I could do more. That's Ralph. Ralph was the
manager of the Package Center at Columbia University, which is

(00:21):
where I went to school for undergrad I was a
scholarship kid and a lot of people came from higher
socio economic backgrounds, with a lot more training in how
to excel academically and being first gen I'm the first
girl to leave home ever before marriage, and I wanted

(00:44):
to break expectations and barriers that we hadn't gotten to
do yet as a family, and I got like knocked
flat on my us. I connected with Ralph because he
understood what it meant to be perceived in a variety
of different way. As I think, one of the first
deeper conversations we had was when I confessed that I

(01:06):
was thinking about dropping out of Columbia, that it was
incredibly hard for me, but I was staying up late
to work on these papers that I would only get
bees on, and I was like, um, what if my
best is not actually good enough. It was thanks to
Ralph and other people like him that I was able
to recenter myself and as a result, I stayed in school.

(01:35):
Welcome to When You're Invisible. My name is Maria Fernando b. S.
But I know not everyone can all there are, so
it's also fine to call me Maria. In today's world,
we love to tell stories about people who have reached
the top, like people who have achieved positions of cloud
wealth power. On this show, I won't be doing that.

(01:57):
There's a whole group of folks who make the world
run who's alreays don't get told. When You're Invisible is
my love letter to the working class and others who
are seemingly invisible in our society. What do everyday people
have to say about life, their country, the world they
grew up in, their hopes and dreams. I want to

(02:19):
explore how perception affects them. Most of our guests are
being interviewed for the first time in their lives, and
I want them to be seen honestly. Most of us
live life as in between urs. We deal with perceptions
and more than one culture world. Upbringing, for example, my

(02:40):
mother cleaned houses for cash under the table because of
her immigration status. She helped my father attend in the
Ivy League to become a successful scientist. So along the way,
I'm going to impact perception and how it affects me
how do people see me? Along with how do I
see people? And I hope to be brave enough to

(03:02):
discover and hopefully correct some of my own biases. I
hope to build a community here that will inspire you
to have generous conversations with others that are different from you,
conversations that might help you see life in an entirely
different way. I remember, like my first real interaction with

(03:29):
Ralph after just like small pleasantries. It was one time
when I was picking up a package and there was
trouble with another student and Ralph was helping me. So
he was trying to keep the peace and create conversation
and he looks down at my idea and he goes,
you know, your last name means ten in Spanish, right,
And I go and he's like, oh, okay, And so

(03:54):
we had like a brief moment of bonding over language,
and he started speaking to me in Spanish and I
was like, I didn't realize my soul needed this moment
to be seen in a different way where we could
just have fun by like nonsense, just being human being,
like yeah, your name is ten Wright and it's like, yeah,
of course, what do you think I'm an idiot? And

(04:14):
it's like no, I don't know. You look white, so
like you never know what was your perception of me
when we first met? Do you remember? I do remember.
Actually I didn't think he spoke Spanish, and I saw
it like the Spanish speaker in your family was like
a few generations removed and now it was just English

(04:38):
and it wasn't pronounced Diaz. It was probably like Diaz
or something. So I kind of made an assumption just
by looking at you, and I was like, but nice
girl overall? Did you think, just from looking at me,
did you assume that I came from privilege or wealth?
I think I assumed that of every student I came

(04:59):
across until I learned different. Can you describe in your
own words what the campus was like? First of all,
there's trees and grass and these beautiful old buildings. They
got the statues, and my first moving day, a super
nice car pulls up. It was a Bentley with the

(05:24):
driver he opens the door, and Dad and students get out,
and behind it comes the truck pulling her stuff, and
the guys in the truck as well that we're gonna
unload it and put it in her room. I said, no, Elite,
this is like money, money, ah. And outside of those walls,

(05:49):
it's just like these ugly square buildings on these ugly
gray sidewalks. And when I went to interview for the job,
but I was like, this place is beautiful. I could
not believe I had never gone in there. To get
to the Package Center where Ralph would end up working,

(06:10):
you entered a beautiful building made entirely of glass, but
ended up in like a dingy gray concrete, fluorescent light
hallway that arrived to a low ceilinged room with no windows. Seriously,
the environment was a stark contrast to the guys who

(06:31):
inhabited the space. The guys at the Package Center were
like super chill, like always having a good time. There
was always laughter, which I was like, this feels nice.
And I didn't even clock it fully, but like there
were just moments where I would breathe while I was there.
That was the vibe that I was definitely trying to get, Like,
you know, what, we're here to help these kids. If

(06:52):
they had packages that they said, we're delivered, but we
hadn't processed that, like, you know what, let's help these
kids out. Let's make it a place where they don't
dread coming. So you know, I had the music I
would put out, like candy or whatever, and always a
smile and always like, hey, how's it going. Getting the
opportunity to talk to Ralph about his life, I started

(07:16):
off by asking him what the younger version of himself
thought his life would be like. I honestly had no
vision of what my life would be like. I remember
saying I wanted to be all these different things when
I grew up um, but I never really thought any

(07:38):
of those things were possible. When Ralph says he has
no vision of his life and what that would look like,
it took me completely off guard because that's very different
from how I was taught to operate in the world,
probably partially due to what my parents went through. My
dad's father had spent time in an orphanage as a

(07:58):
kid and never made it past the third grade. My
boil instilled in my father early that an ideal job
would be one where he could use his mind, not
his hands. My father took my boiler's advice and focused
on science. My dad's goals couldn't have been reached without
my mother. To her, the American dream was real, and

(08:19):
once my father became a professor, it was a new
baseline for her family. If my dad could dream big,
so could I. That's why I reached for the stars
and applied to attend Columbia. I never thought I would
get in. Ralph's upbringing was more focused on the present
and the attributes that would lead to stability, but not

(08:39):
necessarily what it meant to expect, more like whether it
be economic growth or career and passions. It was more
about being present with your people. He had a single
mother that worked a lot. She worked in factories or
hold life when she was in this country, and the

(09:01):
last one she would leave at two in the afternoon
and come home into the morning. Yeah. Now, my mom
was super tough as well, but she was super loved
as long as you didn't do anything bad. She was
the best, you know, she could for everyone, and she
freaking you know, she was just the best. But if
you got a line, you knew that she was not playing.

(09:25):
The message was work hard. That's what you're supposed to
do right, is work hard. And if you're not, you're
doing something wrong. You're not living up to your end
of the bargain. When we come back more from my
interview with Ralph, now back to the show. It feels

(09:51):
like you tend to make community when you go somewhere
for work. I mean, we're at work sometimes more than
we're at home, and I just don't feel like work
should be this place you dread. And I feel like
if it ever is, then you need to do something
else because we shouldn't dread going to work. I feel

(10:12):
like it's so sad when people are like looking forward
to the weekend. You're looking forward to two or three
days out of your seven days of the week. So
you're like wasting four or five days anticipating these two days.
That's most of your life you're letting slip away. I

(10:33):
think that's interesting. You take a necessity and you turn
it into fun. Yeah, I don't want to dread it,
and I want to feel comfortable, and I'd like to
enjoy my life and anybody that's around me, you know what,
you're going to enjoy yours too. That's just what's gonna happen.
Do you think your mom enjoyed it or enjoyed the

(10:53):
hour she was away? I think I got it from her, honestly,
because everyone that worked with her that I came in
intact with loved her. And she would tell me stories
about advocating for better conditions at work and for people
that didn't feel like they had a voice. She would
stick up for people. If I got to meet them,

(11:14):
they always tell me like, oh my god, your mama
is so awesome. So without having been there, I can
surmise she had the same approach. Alongside his mother, his
neighbors also influenced his world. I grew up in Washington
Heights in New York City, infamously known for creating crack

(11:36):
like Washington Heights specifically, Yes, Washington Heights specifically created it,
and I lived there shortly after it was created. So
it was a super rough neighborhood. And it was basically
a real life version of like Cops and Robbers. That's
all you saw, copson robbers, Literally cops and robbers, like

(11:57):
sirens going down the street. Yeah, like junkie ease, like
undercover cops. Could you tell when they were undercover? Yeah? Yeah, absolutely,
because they were never people from the neighborhood. You know,
Washington Heights was like ninety percent or better Dominicans slash Latinos.
And then this like super jacked white guy in mom jeans,

(12:22):
you know, like is walking with his other friends and
we're like, yeah, I know, you guys are cops. Nobody's
fooling anybody. Yeah, exactly. They should have worn those little
glasses with the mustache, the fake nose. Yeah, the same thing,
the same thing. Yeah. I also personally loved the story

(12:44):
when you told me how drug dealers were friends even
Oh yeah, yeah. So you know you have like the
cops that are uniforms and for the most part they're
nice because we're kids, you know, So you liked those cops.
This is interesting. I never thought of this until now.
You liked the uniform cops because they were doing service

(13:06):
for the community kind of thing, right, But the undercover
cops were your enemies somehow, huh, Because the drug dealers
were your friends. The drug dealers weren't enemies of the neighborhood.
They treated kids to like ice cream, or they'd give
you money like or get you and your friends some

(13:27):
snacks or whatever. They knew all the adults, and they
were friendly with all the adults, so they weren't the
enemies of the neighborhood. But you have these guys from
outside the neighborhood trying to fool you and trying to
catch the drug dealers, which weren't the bad guys to us.
So the undercover cops with the bad guys to us.
Interesting when you're young, that's what you see, right, And

(13:50):
I also think back to like detective shows growing up
with my mom, who's a crime show person, and like
the detectives are the heroes, right, maybe that should make
a show for on the other side, right, Yeah, we
have done that. I feel like the wire is kind
of like, yeah, that's the gold standard, right, yeah, gold standard. Amen?

(14:10):
Are you old enough to remember the riots? Yes? I
was early teens. And do you want to get into
like why they happened? I mean, like, yeah, or your
experience about it. This feels dumb, but like I didn't
think about that in regards to your experience until just now. Yeah,
so you know the reason it happened was undercover cops

(14:33):
which were not from the neighborhood, shot a drug dealer
in the back a crowd of demonstrators took to the
streets demanding justice in the case of Rose Kiko Garcia,
whom they believe was in effect murdered by a cop.
Some people were saying that they were trying to rob
the drug dealer because that happened, and their official story

(14:55):
was like he pulled a gun or something whatever. But
in either case, they shot him in the back. Obviously
he was trying to run away. Listening to Ralph, it's
maddening to hear the distinct cracks in each narrative and
what truth or lie is given more weight because of
what people think of the people who inhabit a certain area.

(15:17):
What people inside a community can see is much more
compassionate than the black or white narrative that's shared. I
think this is true for all communities. So besides that,
the regular folks in my neighborhood, they didn't really have careers.
It was just people. They were just like, they went
to work, they came back where they worked. I didn't

(15:37):
even imagine, like I don't know that I cared, but
it's just, you know, they disappeared, they came back. I
find that interesting because I actually remember a conversation we had.
And I think about this in certain like social circles.
Once you get to like the level where you can
say I'm a lawyer, right, people ask you what you do.
That's interesting to me is you're like, I don't know
what my community did for work. Right. I knew that

(16:01):
I didn't see anyone in suits or dress clothes at all.
So there was like no quote unquote professionals. Right. There
was nobody going to offices, got it. Everybody that went
to work was dress normal, and to me, normal being
like T shirt or polo and jeans or construction gear.
You know. I had friends a team in there in
their twenties working construction. That's all I saw. So being

(16:23):
a lawyer, being any professional, or having an actual career
was in a reality that I could aspire to. Right,
that's interesting to think about. Like, you didn't see it
like the physical dress versus like what we see on
TV or what we see in certain areas. Right, Who
do you feel like growing up saw you the most? Clearly?

(16:45):
My mom was definitely she saw me better than I
saw myself. She would tell me what I was capable of,
and I didn't believe her. When Ralph and I met,
I had a deeply belief that education was the way out,
that education would shape you, change you, and lead you

(17:08):
on a better journey. But having grown up with not
the best schools, I know that that perception is complicated.
Were there any teachers in school that you felt saw you.
I had the worst time there. I got bullied and
it was just terrible. I learned to kind of disappeared

(17:29):
in high school, so using like almost invisibility as superpower
to make it through the day. Invisibility was helpful in
high school. Were you able to do that in middle school? No? No,
it was he It was a terrible school, like it
doesn't exist anymore. It's how terrible. Tests, grades were terrible,

(17:50):
and the teachers were terrible, and it was just the worst.
I was bullied. The teachers were just like uncaring. They
made funds. I was also bullied, but not by teachers.
I had stuff thrown at me and someone even threw
a punch once. Ralph keeps a lot of the details
of his own experience of bullying to himself, which I

(18:13):
completely understand. I had such a terrible time in middle
school that I had stopped trying and stopped going so
I didn't get into any high schools in New York City,
and so New York City you have to apply for
high schools and like specialized in whatever. So if you
don't get into any of the high schools you chose,
you get into your zone school, right. And the high

(18:34):
schools when you apply to them, and they do look
at grades, they do look at testing all of that.
So unfortunate you don't go to a good school or
you stop trying, like it really affects your ability to
go to a good high school. So I went to
my zone school, which was a terrible, terrible school. I
don't know if it was the worst, but I think
it competed for the worst. Can you describe what you

(18:56):
mean by terrible, like give us an example. It wasn't
a place of learning, It was a hangout. It was
the first school with metal detectors. Cutting class was so
normal and like the cafeterias where you hung out, right,
And so your schedule had a big number telling everybody

(19:18):
what lunch period you had, and that's the only lunch
period that you were supposed to get into. And there
were people at the doors like checking those numbers, and
you know, just like a club, you get to know
the guys at the door, and they let you in
any period you wanted. Oh my god. Wait, so the

(19:39):
guys at the door are the other students? Are they
like hired security? They're like grown ups, like grown ups.
We don't know what their official job title was. I
guess they were all security guys. But yeah, they were
like bouncers at the door and if you got to
know them. My friend wasn't enrolled in that school, but

(20:00):
he went there every day and he would get us
into whatever lunch period we wanted because he was there
all day, just like there all day in the cafeteria.
He would go to every lunch period until he left
to go home. He wasn't enrolled in that school, so like,
he just never showed up for his school. He never went.

(20:21):
He went the first day to his school and then
went to our school and he got into a really
good school and never went. He was like, j I
don't need this. His mom went to parent teacher night
and the teacher was like, who had to check the
roster and was like, oh, I've never seen him. Having

(20:45):
gone through all that, Ralph decides it's time for a change,
so he enlists. I didn't go away for college. But
I went to the Marines. At this point, I'm like, oh, man,
I can do everything, and I didn't know how to
do laundry, didn't know what it took to keep myself alive.
Even I'm drained how to kill, but I don't know

(21:09):
how to keep myself alive. Nothing told me, hey, what
about food before you go to formation? Because you're not
gonna get food after And so am I gonna wake
up at five thirty to go make sure like I
have food in my stomach so I'm not starving by lunchtime. No,
I'm going to put chocolate chip cookies and power Aid

(21:33):
in my fridge. And this was my breakfast. It's funny
to hear someone who I see as competent talk about
a time where they were learning to take care of themselves.
Perhaps it goes back to how boys are raised in
our culture. The laundry, cooking, cleaning usually falls on the
women or girls in the household. No matter when you
learn it, When you start taking care of yourself, it

(21:55):
deepens your agency and knowledge of who you are. During
your time in the Marines, was that a place you
felt like you were finally seen? I definitely was seen.
There were people that used invisibility as a power because
if you were seen but weren't up to standards or

(22:20):
they weren't getting what they wanted out of you, then
it was worse to be seen than not seen. And
so I stood out because I was really good in
the Marines. I was always squad leader or some kind
of leader. I never asked for. It was all like,

(22:41):
we're looking, we're evaluating, Okay, this is the guy we're choosing.
And so I definitely felt seen, and it was definitely
a good thing because you know, I always put out
effort and I was good at anything they asked me
to do. So I didn't trust my brothers to take
care of my mom. The way Ralph talks about this
is very familiar to me. While Ralph was quote unquote

(23:03):
a very typical Latino man and did rely on his
mom to do, you know, laundry, cooking and cleaning and
that kind of thing, which he figured out eventually, he
was her main support in many other ways. Ralph was
the middle child, and he was his mom's best friend
often and also her biggest support system. So while she
provided a lot for him, he also did a lot

(23:25):
around the house and provided financially, and I think ultimately
when you have a close knit family where you rely
on each other, and being immigrants and being working class folk, like,
there is a sense of guilt when you venture out
into the world, and it's something that I can relate
to and something I felt at Columbia, and so leaving
home was difficult, and seeing as he had a younger

(23:48):
brother and she was a single mom, his pull to
come back and help out was stronger than his desire
to explore the world. So I chose to go reserves
as opposed to an active contract, and I wanted to
go to Japan, but I didn't because I didn't trust

(24:08):
my brothers to take care of my mom. It was
tough for me to even just go through the training
for those seven months and not be home. So definitely
going away for any longer period of time, I just
didn't see that as a possibility, like I couldn't. After that,
he comes home and he doesn't really talk about this,
but he gets a couple of different jobs. His strong

(24:30):
work ethic and his trustworthiness eventually lead him to a
job at Columbia. So my first day was in the summer,
so very little students. I was hired as the assistant manager,
but the staff wasn't told. They wanted me to observe
first and then come back with a plan of what

(24:51):
needs to be changed and how we're going to change it.
And I mean, it was easy to see the changes
that needed to be made, so I was like, oh,
I'm gonna look like a super star. And then what
did you think of the students? I immediately noticed the differences,
Like they are in a much better position than I

(25:11):
was at their age, And you know, with that, I
think came a lot of spoiled kids, a lot of entitlement,
and a very different view of the world and how
it worked then I had at their age and at
the age when I was there. And it's hard to
try to explain how the world actually works to someone

(25:35):
who essentially you're working for one, Like they thought the
world ran a certain way, and then also it's like
it should run the way that I think it should.
Both so like, you know, we get a truck full
of packages, and you're supposed to simply know where mine
is and get it to me immediately, never mind that

(25:59):
there are thousands of other kids getting thousands and thousands
of packages. You're supposed to find mine immediately and get
it to me, because no one else is ordering books,
only me. When was the time that you felt seen.

(26:22):
There was actually a time when I was pulled into
a meeting with the account manager for the company and
the account was in jeopardy and they just felt like
we weren't doing as well as we could have done.
And I felt seen because the people from the school said,

(26:46):
if it weren't for him, you would have lost this
account already because they know how hard I was working.
Like I was salary right, so I didn't get paid
over time, but I was spending twelve to fifteen hours
a day at the school. How I was doing overnights
for free. It wasn't for the company though, because we

(27:08):
had all these unprocessed packages and most of them are books, right,
these kids aren't getting their books and classes have already started.
We gotta get this done. And so I was doing
overnights just processing down which is hilarious because at three
in the morning you would hear knocks on the door

(27:29):
trying to get these these kids are like, I got
the email. Kids, you know I'm awake, word for word,
word for word, I got the email. Get my book
Stressed Kids, don't go anywhere when You're invisible. Will be

(27:52):
right back with more. Now back to the show. Getting
to talk to Ralph about his upbringing, his time in
the Marines, being the manager of the package center at
the school where we met, and knowing what kind of

(28:14):
person he is at his core, I really wanted his
opinion on what he thought would make the world a
better place. And I think the world will be a
better place if, like the golden rule, right, if we
treated each other the way we want to be treated.
If you're going through a hard time, you would want
somebody to be empathetic, and we should do that back,
especially at that place, right, I got that there was

(28:37):
a lot of stress and so people would come at
you aggressively or but I understood that it's probably the
stress that they're under, and so I didn't hold that
against them. He does not over complicate things. He just
sees what's happening and thinks, what can you do to
make it better? I mean, yeah, why? And it be

(29:00):
as simple as a golden rule, Like the first thing
we learned in kindergarten in preschool, treat others the way
you want to be treated. It's funny because that was
something I had to be reminded of when I met Ralph,
because I looked at life like a boxing ring, and
to him it was the ocean. How would you define

(29:23):
being invisible being looked over? It's kind of people see
a silhouette of a person and not the actual person. Interesting.
I also think it's interesting though, like how you defined
being invisible also as a superpower. Yeah, at times, if
you don't want to be seen, that's helpful. And there
were times, you know, like I said in middle school especially,

(29:43):
I did not want to be seen. I wish I weren't.
Now that you're a father, how do you wish that
your kids? How do you want them to be seen
in life? And what do you hope for or want
for them? I think my wish for them actually came
before they were you know, when I realized what I
missed out on. If I just believed in myself, if

(30:05):
I just had the confidence in myself that I had
later in life when I was younger than I think,
it would have been very different. And that's what I
wish for them the most, is that they carry themselves
with a confidence and believe in themselves. Right, I wish
that they see themselves the way I see them, the

(30:26):
way that my mom saw me and I didn't see myself.
Parents are amazing at setting up possibilities for the kids,
but I also have come to believe that community can
do that for you as well. I'm not sure if
I need to know what Ralph saw in me. I'm
just grateful he did see me. He saw value in
who I was, and I could feel that by the

(30:47):
way he treated me. It's weird to hear his perceptions
of me when we first met, because it's so different
from how I thought people actually saw me. I'm allowing
myself to be okay with the fact that person sans
are real and can change over time, like for example,
I did have to own that. I did have to
own that, And I hate seeing this out loud, but

(31:08):
I'm gonna say it because I really do want us
to be willing to acknowledge what we're hiding or what's
invisible to us internally that we're not facing because we're
not talking to people who are different than us. And
for example, like Ralph and I, when we first started
talking when I was in nineteen, he was able to
put his finger on a bias that even was hidden

(31:30):
to me at the time, that actually probably got heightened
because of the environment that I was in. There are
times when he's like, it feels like you're talking to me,
like you think you're better than me, Like we're talking
about something and it sounds like you're already assuming what
I have to say is not as researched as you.

(31:51):
And I was like, you're you're He's like, do you
want to say something? And I was like, I feel
really bad saying this because I'm terrified of seeing this
to you, because I'm terrified of what it means about
me to say this to you. But you're right, I
actually am slightly assuming that because of having my brother

(32:12):
who's incredibly well researched and having to learn how to
spar with him, or being at an intellectual, elite institution
no matter how hard it was, I was there and
you weren't, and that all you have is experience, and
even though I value experience, but I was like, oh,
there's a fucked up gap there because I feel insecure
or because I don't know what in my head. I'm

(32:34):
educated and you're not, And like I had to reframe
what that meant and be willing to be like, I
really hope you don't hate me for this. I'm terrified
of admitting this. I hope you don't think I'm a
horrible human and you might, and I have no control
over it, and I just hope you're willing to sit
with me or not, but just like know that I'm

(32:55):
working on it. And he's like yeah, and he's like
and also, I mean, you're not wrong, Like I don't
know all of the data, so I'm going to also
have to adapt where my experience isn't enough. And I
was like, damn, but your ability to see that before
me already speaks volumes of you in a way that
I'm now panicking about myself. And that even brought me shame,

(33:19):
Like I was like, oh, I'm panicking rather than being like, Wow,
this is exciting. Let me be better, and so like,
that's part of the thing that I want to get
rid of, and I want to get rid of it myself.
And if I'm answering the question that I ask all
my guests of what we think would make the world
a better place, I think that would make the world
a better place is being able to get rid of
the little thing that tells us I should be shameful

(33:41):
about all the things that I bring to the table
that might not be great, that I should be terrified
or unpack really quickly, because what the funk? Otherwise I'm
not deserving or not enough or I'm not worthy of
being in community with versus like being like, no, we're
all in this process together, this is exciting, this is us,
and holy sh it, you want to begin this process

(34:02):
with me, and I can also figure out what I
should process by myself and what we can process together.
And that's always a dance and that's always a growing process.
That's something I think would make the world a better
place is if we did that more openly and also
owned up to those moments and then also stayed in
that uncomfortable feeling rather than spiraling into like shame, panic, suck,

(34:26):
but rather like okay, okay, how do I still maintain
generosity in this and move forward? I think honestly, had
Ralph not seen me, I definitely would have dropped out.
I would have been a much more confused, unhappy version

(34:47):
of me. It was really things to Ralph who started
to ask me questions about who I was, what I thought,
what I wanted what I enjoyed, and like held me
to a higher stand dard of who I was being
and who I was becoming. He was able to sit
there and like have full conversations with me without judgment.

(35:09):
He would just offer, and oftentimes I found that he
would offer with a story, like when he was like, yeah,
I didn't fully finish college, like I kept going back
and forth from it, and I do have some regrets
from that, because it doesn't quite let me push along
up the chain as quickly as I think I can,

(35:29):
or people don't always believe I'm as capable of things
I know I'm capable of because of that, or I
just wish I could have that to show my kids
that it's something he's worth sticking through in a different way.
So he would just offer his feelings rooted in his perspective,
and that was like a moment of like, this is

(35:51):
a person who understands the world in a particular way
and depth that not many have. And then you're like, wait,
why doesn't everybody know about them? So to me, this
was like an important thing to share, is like to
share this essence, this human who has guided me through
the world. There's so much to learn from people like

(36:13):
Ralph that I was like, I want to have these
conversations out loud up next. I'm really excited to continue
this conversation and to stay in this lovely world. On
the next episode, we get to talk to Louie, who
is another worker I met f a package center. They
had a close relationship with Ralf and with me. Louie
and I are pretty close in age, so we kind

(36:34):
of grew up at Columbia together from two very different
sides of the institution. Of course, Oh my gosh, he
is a delight and a ball and has the best
laugh in my opinion. So you'll get to meet another
person who became my community at Columbia before we move
on to other people outside my time at school. Thank

(36:54):
you so much for listening to One Year Invisible and
for joining me on this journey. Don't forget to like, comment,
and subscribe. You can find this episode and future ones
on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you get your podcasts. I'm your host and creator Maria
fernand with executive producers Anna Stumps, Nikki Itour and Bans

(37:19):
producers Arlene Santana Impablo Cabrera with associate producer Claudia Martha
Corena and post production producer Daisy James. Original theme music
by Tony Bruno. When You're Invisible is an I Heart
podcast network production in partnership with My Coltura Podcast Network
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