.Immigration blues by Bienvenido N. Santos

a selection from being people an anthology, edited by Thomas Kral


1. Think of some situations with family, friends or associates, or people from other cultures, in which it is necessary to make a request or offer a criticism with considerable delicacy or indirection.

2. Have you ever been in a situation in which you wanted to make a request of someone but felt the request was embarrassing or inappropriate? Have you ever been in a conversation in which you suddenly realized something was being asked of you that was a bit embarrassing to the person making the (subtle or hidden) request?


1. Debate whether Mrs. Zafra and her sister are out to exploit Alipio. One side defends their actions, the other finds evidence of deception and exploitation.

2. Debate whether Alipio really knows right from the start what Mrs. Zafra and her sister want.


Mrs. Zafra and her sister have a "hidden agenda" in their meeting with Alipio. A "hidden agenda" is a purpose that is disguised or concealed, usually because it is embarrassing to one of the parties involved, or expressing the purpose outright would be regarded as socially inappropriate. Therefore, the purpose of the conversation must be revealed through hints or suggestions and depends to a great extent on the ability of the person who is the subject of the hidden request to understand the clues being given.

1. One person wants a loan of money from a friend or family member to buy something extravagant or unnecessary. The first speaker must try to appeal to the second speaker and get the loan without making a direct request or telling a lie.

2. An employee wants some time off to spend with a friend or some other personal business not allowed by company policy. He or she tries to get the boss to understand the employee needs some time off without saying so directly.

3. A young person wants to go to a dance with some friends, but his or her school grades have not been good lately and he or she is afraid the parents might object. How can the young person steer the conversation with the parents to get the desired results?


1. If you were to live abroad for a long time, what do you anticipate would be the most difficult adjustments you would need to make?

2. Write a description of a place you know well a) from the point of view of a person who has been exiled, without mentioning exile; b) from the point of view of a person who has recently had quite good luck (without mentioning luck) and c) from the point of view of a person who has just suffered a tragedy, without mentioning tragedy. He the challenge is to make the reader aware of background emotions without stating them.

3. Write a dialogue between two people, one of whom (at least) has a "hidden agenda."

top of the page
Contents ••• Title page ••• The author ••• Pre-story ••• In-story ••• Exercises ••• Follow-up