In the fall semester of 2nd year, I got one of my friends to volunteer with me for a private-practice dietitian. The goal of this was to help younger kids become more familiar in a kitchen setting, food prep and learn about nutrition and safety. I would like to preface that both of us were the only East Asians among the 4 volunteers, and that the dietitian was pregnant at the time.
Both of us had experienced hostility from this dietitian, especially me over the course of a few days.
It was my very first time dealing with kids and so I was expecting to learn many things. We had to travel more than an hour to get to the site in the snow, and sometimes in a blizzard. We thought, “this HAS to be worth it! Let’s do this.” But unfortunately, this was not the case.
There was a time where each of us had to supervise a small group of kids when prepping food. I noticed that my group was a bit behind in the recipe making, and I told one kid, “hurry! You’re almost done!” and the dietitian stared at me with a ‘WTF’ face. She told me that I shouldn’t tell a kid to hurry up because they could potentially hurt themselves by accident or feel really pressured. I took that lesson to heart, and she was right – I still think about those words today. However, after this, it just became hostile.
We made pasta from scratch one time. The noodles were already in the pot beginning to boil. I saw it boil over and it was my very first time seeing this happen, so I didn’t know what to do. I quickly called her over since she was the closest one to me, who was only a few steps away. She rushed over and turned off the stove and yelled at me while cussing, “well then F***ING TURN OFF THE STOVE THEN!! S***”, while my friend was there as well.
Luckily, no kids were in the kitchen since they were outside playing. I just stood there frozen not saying anything with a blank mind. I was surprised that someone even said that to me. I felt terrible because I was expected to know everything, and she was pregnant! How dare my lack of knowledge on the stove piss off a pregnant woman – I thought.
An hour-ish later, a kid wanted some milk so I went into the kitchen wanting to find a cup for them but I didn’t know where the cups were. I asked one of the volunteers there and she didn’t know either. So I just built up my courage and asked the dietitian where they were, even though I was terrified that she was going to yell at me some more. She gave me a very dismissive groan and said, “it’s up there…” in a tone where she expected me to know where everything was and just walked away – she didn’t even look at me.
How do you expect every nutrition student to know what to do in a kitchen setting? I am not only there to guide kids, I’m also there to learn, and I still am. In my first year, I knew some people who didn’t even know how to chop veggies but I didn’t judge them. Everyone starts somewhere.
My friend agreed for me to quote her brief passive aggressive experience from the dietitian:
“I remember we were all cooking/cleaning and all the kids ran out to the gym and not even a second later, she looked at me and was like, “can we make sure someone is outside watching them?” in such a passive aggressive tone…like…there’s a group out there already….”
The last incident happened when we were baking. I was in a group with my friend and the recipe told us to use Greek Yogurt. So we got the “GREEK YOGURT’ from the fridge. Once we got to our station before using it, the dietitian came over and said “GIRLS?? What is this?” We just stood there and said “Greek yogurt…?” and she says, “no, that’s not what it says”. I said confidently, “yes it is” and I pointed to the lid that said “Greek yogurt”. She then saw that the lid was misplaced and that we were actually using vanilla yogurt.
She told us, “girls, you guys ALWAYS have to read the food label…you guys are nutrition professionals” in the sternest way. She finally realized that it wasn’t us who mismatched it, but her intern, who is white. She went to the intern’s table and just told her she mixed it up and told her in a nicer and kind way not to do it again.
If it was us who mismatched it, what would she have done? Was using the wrong yogurt going to make a huge difference? We were just making donuts. Clearly, nobody was allergic to any of the ingredients since we used both for different recipes. Why was she so aggressive when talking to us, but when it came to her intern, her tone changed completely?
I just remembered at the very end, she told us “Wow! You guys have to commute so long to get here! Well…I hope it was worth it for you guys..?!” No, it was not.
I felt extremely discouraged at my time there, and it wasn’t even a full week – it was 5 days.