Being in a multicultural marriage has been such an amazing experience. It has had its challenges and will continue to bring more, but we have been enjoying a beautiful life. There have been so many miscommunications that we have had. Some come because the culture of a man and the culture of a women are very different. Our family dynamics are different. Though we both spoke English in the beginning, it wasn’t until I learned Spanish and we then had two bilinguals in the house did things get better when it came to language. The biggest cultural challenge that we have had is what in insulting and unacceptable in one culture and is just fine, even funny, in the other.
One event in particular comes to mind. One night when we were dating, we went on a walk and talked while we ate guavas. We decided to sit on a bench and Jose said in a cute voice, “oh mi gordita”. This translates as “my little fatty”. I thought I misheard and astonished said, “what?” “You are my gordita,” he stated. Oh no he did not! He did not just call me fat on one of our first dates. To me this was highly offensive, especially because I had worked 5 years in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center trying to combat negative body image. Well, while this was a bad thing to say in my culture, in Jose’s culture is was considered a very cute compliment. He was accepting me as I was and doing so in a loving way because he added “ita” at the end. We laugh at this now, but truth be told, this is a part of the cultural miscommunication that I’m still getting used to.
HSBC Bank has set a great example for businesses and people all around the world to get to know the cultural differences between different parts of the world. If we are traveling, teaching, or working internationally it is so important to know the culture and respect it. The are many things that are normal to one, but to someone in a neighboring country it it offensive. Research before you travel or interact so that you are prepared for things you may encounter. If you are still unsure, ask a guide or a friend as you travel. This will save you a lot of embarrassment and awkward moments.