1. Lano, Anne BSN, RN, FNP


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As a five-year-old adoptee from Korea who grew up in the primarily White world of central Nebraska, I often wished, as a child, that I could look like everyone else. Early on, I was often confused or hurt by the unthinking remarks I received. Neighborhood boys teased me about my eyes. When I was in my teens, a woman in the locker room turned in my direction and said, slowly and loudly, "Welcome to America!" When I was sure she was talking to me, I said, "Uh, thanks! You too?!"


While I was chasing my kids around the playground, another little girl climbed up a ladder close to me. When she was eye level with me, she brightly said, "Hola!" It took me a second to realize she thought I was Hispanic, but I chuckled and said, with a smile, "Hola!" back to her. Likewise, at a friend's relative's house, a woman claimed that I looked just like someone she knew. She searched all her photo albums to show me a picture of an Asian man who, in my opinion, looked like a sumo wrestler.


'No sir, you are not in China.' Today, I have grown to embrace the beauty of diversity, to see the humor or lack of education in insensitive remarks so that my initial response is not one of hurt or anger, but grace.


In my work as a nurse, experiences like these have grown exponentially. When I was gently waking a patient from anesthesia after surgery, the man, confused and dazed, looked at me and yelled, "Am I in China!?" Most of the time I find the best response is to smile and answer simply, in this case saying, "No sir, you are not in China."


One of the first patients I took care of as a new RN was a talkative White woman who, though considered a difficult patient, for some reason adored me. While doing my tasks, I would listen to her. On the last day I cared for her, she said to me, "My husband and I were thinking. When my husband was in the service, he spent time in Japan and had 'relations' with some of the Japanese women there. We think it is possible that you could be our granddaughter."


There was so much that was inappropriate about that comment, and I admit that I was so shocked I just made a confused nod while backing out of the room.


At times, an opportunity to educate. At other times I feel I can gently help educate people a bit. The question I get most from people is, "Where are you from?" I know what they want to know, but I like to make them work for it a little bit. When I nonchalantly tell them that I grew up right here in Nebraska, they usually reply with, "But where are you frooooooom?"


I tell them that although I was adopted as a little girl from Korea, I am an American, and just like them I grew up in America. Sometimes I see the light dawn, and sometimes not-but I have spoken the truth in love. I've learned to extend grace instead of taking offense, to assume the best in people, and to embrace the humor in it all. Fortunately, these practices have flowed right into nursing and have made me become the nurse I am today, one I am proud of.


Extending grace to suffering patients. As a nurse, I have been a part of people's most private and intimate moments. I have had many patients who have shown unwavering strength and positivity, and they have deeply inspired me. I have also seen many patients who have had it-they are frustrated by their sickness, pain, and disappointments, and sometimes they snap. They become angry and do not want to talk.


Amid all these patients, I continue to practice what being a person of diversity has taught me: to show grace instead of taking offense with the patient who snaps at me, to have compassion because I know they are fighting their own battles, and equally important, to share humor with patients and coworkers when appropriate. I am grateful for the ways that growing up with a different ethnicity in central Nebraska has taught me and helped me to develop as a person and as a professional.