Friday, June 12, 2015

Deported from US -- now working in a call center

Call centers are big business in San Salvador.   They employ an estimated 17,000 people, many of whom were previously deported from the US.   In El Salvador, the English these deportees learned while living in the US is often the only marketable skill they have.

The Miami Herald has an article on the call center operations:

Clients calling toll-free numbers to book hotels, find airline flights, track down lost luggage or deal with bank questions usually have no idea that the voice on the other end is a Salvadoran, sometimes with a tattooed neck, arms and back, who’s been deported from the United States. 
International call centers have become a lifeline for thousands of Salvadorans who’ve been booted from the United States. The call center industry may as well be called Second Chance Inc. 
Some of the deportees had lived years, even decades, in the U.S., often in gritty urban neighborhoods. They arrive back in El Salvador disoriented, accustomed to speaking English, not Spanish, and trained in jobs that are useless in the tropics, like fireplace maintenance. Many bear tattoos common in the United States but that carry a heavy stigma in El Salvador, where they are seen as a telltale sign of criminality. 
Wilfredo Gómez Turcios, 35, spends his days politely booking hotel rooms for those calling, offering a congenial voice.  When he departs for home after work, some passersby give him a wide berth. 
“They look at me (and) they grab their kids,” said Gómez, who bears a scripted tattoo of his mother’s name, “Juana,” on his neck. 
Gómez is quick to recognize his own shortcomings, a past heavy on partying, traveling with the wrong crowd. But he’s also fluent in English, has an easy manner and is quick to please. That’s the kind of person the call centers like.
Read the rest of the article here.

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