People of Xander: Javier Dominguez Muñoz
Javier came to Xander to develop as a Data Analyst, where his resilient and driven nature made him an obvious choice for Xander. He has embraced different cultures with open arms and broken-down societal barriers regardless of the difficulties he has faced. We sat down with Javier to hear his story and how it has made him the man he is today.
Where are you from?
I am originally from a small town in Spain called Salamanca. About 150k to 200k residence. I lived there with my parents and brothers. I always preferred living in bigger cities, and I decided from a very young age that eventually I would move out of Salamanca. I think it’s the perfect town to live when you are kid or if you are retired and looking for a place to live before you pass. As the town was small there was limited job opportunities, so when people would become of age they would normally just move to a bigger city like Madrid or Barcelona.
You’re multi-lingual, can you tell us about that?
Spanish is my native language, but I also speak English, Italian and Mandarin. During university, I learnt to speak Italian fluently. I also learnt Mandarin during my studies. I never planned to learn Mandarin at first, as I was planning on learning English during university. However, I missed the deadline applying to the English course so, in the end, I had to pick Mandarin as there were spaces available.
I found Mandarin was much harder to learn compared to Italian or English. Mandarin isn’t just a language, it represents an entire culture, and everything has a meaning, starting for the characters. It is not like any Latin-based language, there are no letters. There are pictograms, characters with meaning. And there are more than 50,000 of them. And if you want to speak fluently, you need to know at least 2000 to 3000 of these pictograms to have a basic conversation or read a newspaper, but at least recognize 10,000 to have a fluent conversation with the Chinese speaker.
The best way to describe it is it’s like another way of thinking, and I feel like this gives me a better insight into how the Chinese think, I also feel like this reflects their society. Their sarcasm is much different to ours.
How was your experience living in China?
During my time there I designed my own Chinese name, Mingyi 明意, which means bright idea.
After graduating from university in Spain I then did a masters in Italy. After completing my masters, I started working in my hometown and then I did a gap year in China and ended up spending a year and a few months there. I really wanted to see another culture before I returned to Spain. I wanted to have some experience living somewhere else other than Europe.
Before I went, I really thought I knew how to speak to the locals since I studied it at university. However sometimes applying what you learnt in real life can be difficult and I quickly learned I was unable to speak to the locals or even understand them at all, I felt completely lost and shocked by my inability to speak with the locals.
I was determined to engage with the locals and so when I was there, I decided to enroll into a university and learn Mandarin in China, which was useful as I was able to apply the knowledge I gained through the lessons with the locals directly.
Eventually, I was able to understand and speak to the locals, but the process took months. And even at the end, I felt like I only covered the basics of Mandarin. One thing I noticed was that the Chinese people were very patient with me while I spoke to them, and they would be very impressed when I was able to say basic phrases as its strange to find foreigners speaking Mandarin, so they really appreciate the effort.
The city I lived in, Qingdao, was relatively small compared to other cities in China. Qingdao is in the Chinese sea coast in front of Korea and a point of transit for North Korean refugees. The city had 9 million residents, which by Chinese standards is considered small. Small enough not to be shown in the maps. And since I didn’t stay in a big city there weren’t many foreigners where I normally stayed.
I had no friends or family and couldn’t speak to the locals due to the language barriers. this made me feel lonely. I found this ironic living in one of the most populated countries in the world. I remember just going to the bus and you would instantly feel that everyone is looking at you all the time. I was the centre of attention, going into a public area everyone kept looking at me all the time and I would find that weird. But I don’t think it is racism; I think it’s just curiosity.
How was it coming out to your family?
I didn’t really come out to my family at first, I had only spoken about it to some of my friends. But when I told them they didn’t seem very shocked. When I told my parents, my mother was actively supportive from the beginning. However, my dad didn’t really express much at the time. I knew in the end though, he would be totally fine with me having a boyfriend.
I only told my parents I was gay before coming to London because, overall, I didn’t consider it important. I knew that they would love me regardless. On top of that, I never really felt being gay represents the whole of me and it never really came up in conversation.
However, when I met Anthony, who was my first boyfriend, something changed. I wanted my family to meet him and get to know him before we moved in together. I never really said that I was gay I only told them that I’m going to move to England with Anthony and that Anthony is my boyfriend.
I’ve always felt that for some gay people who I know personally, they feel like it represents them in a big way. For me personally, I feel like it represents a minor part of me. It is who I am but it’s not the full picture.
I believe in normalisation. Normalise diversity – don’t hide it but also do not glorify it. I don’t feel compelled to tell people all the time, nor fish for opportunities to bring it up. Instead, I like to be more reserved about it and in an ideal situation, I believe it should be normalised.