Culture and Psychology: WEEK 7 6/7/2018

There are problems in the whole world. Each region and part of the world has different problems that arise, but they are issues nonetheless. First-world problems usually are mental or stimulant problems. 3rd world problems are usually from physical or financial strain. First-world problems include mental illness, problems with technology, road rage, and solicitors. 3rd world problems include finding clean water, enough food for the next day, and being able to find enough money to survive. All of these are real issues and cause stress to the individual. The problems are just different.

I worked in an Eating Disorder treatment center for 5 years. The majority of our clients were from wealthy areas in the United States or Canada. These girls were dealing with mental illness, control issues, and trying to fit into a society that called for perfection. This is extremely hard stuff to navigate. They had great challenges in front of them, and most were able to reach a point of recovery where they could move forward in their daily life in their own home. There is hunger all over the world, but this is not an eating disorder. This type of hunger comes from poverty. In 3rd world countries, the people are in survival mode. There is no room to realize or worry about mental illness. Anorexia is almost nonexistent. There is hunger, but there is not a mental illness as a foundation. This is a physical problem for them.

This is only one example between psychological differences between cultures. What types of psychology differences come when someone is of a multicultural background. My husband reminded me that he has a lot of family that are Mexican-American. They don’t feel like they fit in in the United States and they don’t feel like they fit in in Mexico. This could be a reason why the depression rates are higher for Mexican-Americans than Mexicans. His cousins are told to go back to Mexico when they are in the states. They are told to go back to the USA when they are in Mexico. They never feel like they really belong.

We must keep an open mind when working with others from around the world. It is important to remember that experiences are different for all. Be mindful of what we complain about when we are in the presence of newly arrived people from 3rd world countries. Things that seem to be such an issue for us are major blessings for them.

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CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION: WEEK 5 5/26/2018

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.

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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.

Cultural Differences Regarding Time: Week 5 5/24/2018

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Being here in Mexico there has always been one thing that has bothered me. There are times when I feel that the people here, especially in the smaller towns, don’t respect time  we set up for things. My husband live an hour away from the LDS branch that we attend. Because my husband is the president, we set up and go to all of the activities and meetings. I am going to school full-time and often put my homework off in order to go to these activities. After the activity, we have to drive another hour to get home. I am happy to do this. I am not happy when everyone shows up when there is a 1/2 hour left of the activity and expect it to run for the appointed 2 hours. I feel that my time and effort means nothing when this happens.

Watching and studying Brother Iver’s lesson about the cultural differences regarding time, a light bulb went off in my head. I am from a monochronic society and I live in a polychronic society. Monochronic societies value time spent and being on time. Polychronic societies value relationships more than time. So if someone said they were going to go to the Family History activity that I spent time planning and preparing for, but their cousin showed up at their house right before the activity, they will stay with their cousin. Having this knowledge can help my patience immensely!

How can this knowledge help us as English teachers? This helps us to understand the behavior of our students. We still need to be professional and on time as teachers, but knowing about the cultural differences will help us to have patience and understanding regarding why certain things are done. This knowledge doesn’t just help teachers, though. It helps anyone around the world. The world is becoming more and more integrated. One example is the United States. There are so many races and cultures that have gathered in the USA. Knowing about the different views of time will help in neighborhoods, the workplace, and in mixed families. Minds and hearts will be opened even more as we learn more about this cultural difference.

Cultural Paradigms: Week 5 5/22/2018

America is known as “the melting pot”. So many families from all over the world go to the United States for refuge and the promise of a better life. My husband is one of these. We are happy to announce that today he passed his interview at the border and we will begin our process of transferring to the United States. His story is one like so many others. A man from a different country, with different cultural views, looking for the “American dream”. Currently that dream is filled with racism from people in the country. What drives racism is ignorance. People don’t understand and accept that not everyone is the same or believes the same.

 
In the video “Cultural Differences” from National Geographic, we see how the fear of some neighbors effect the way the men can live in their new “free” country. The neighbors called authorities in fear after seeing the group of African men walking around town. The authorities then told them that it is best for the neighborhood if they travel separately. Is this the freedom they came for? No.

Because of cultural differences, there can be many misunderstandings. Each country has a different sense of humor. In the United States it is common to use humor at the expense of others. In other countries, this is not accepted. When one travels the world, it is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting. This principle would be especially helpful for English Teachers. No, English is not the official language of the United States, but all through out the world, many are using English more and more. It is important as an English teacher, no matter where you are in the world, to be sensitive to the different cultural paradigms they may encounter. What is normal for one student may be highly offensive for another. I recommend that one way to get to know these differences is to open the floor to your students. Have a discussion, unit, or assignment where the students must present their culture to the class. This would be highly beneficial for the teacher and the other students. We really are a melting pot and must respect those that choose to come to America like our ancestors before us.

Immigrants’ Wives

This week Jose has been gone in Mexico City for work. I’ll admit I cried pretty hard when he left. Cheese balls? Yes, I know. I didn’t know that I would miss him so much, but I guess he is my husband and I love him very much. My first night alone in this country I was quite nervous. Our hallway doesn’t have a roof, so of course my brain made up so many scenarios about robbers and stuff. But guess what…I live in the most tranquil part of Mexico. Seriously, I am so lucky. I fell asleep watching Spanish cartoons about chickens. The next day I woke up and watered the garden and weeded for a few hours before the sun became blazing hot. As I was weeding, I thought of how blessed I am. I thought of the women here in Mexico whose husbands have gone to the states to provide more for their family. I know that for some this is a very touchy subject, but let me try to shed some light about immigrants. Obviously I don’t know it all, I just want to share what I have noticed. Yes, Mexico is a VERY beautiful place. And what makes it even more beautiful is the people. My favorite thing here is that their main priority is family. Family guys! Not money. Not themselves or work. FAMILY. If that isn’t following the Lord’s plan, I don’t know what is. And that is a big reason why a lot of people cross the border and go to the states. They risk their lives and go to a place where they do not know the language or culture, for their family.

You see, here in Mexico people are willing to work. It’s just that the jobs don’t pay. The people who have money are either crooks, part of the Government, or have their own businesses. I know of a family here that has 5 children. The dad works ALL DAY. In the blistering heat. He gets paid 300 pesos per day. Right now the money exchange is about 15 pesos per dollar. So divide 300 by 15. That’s 20 bucks. A day. For a family of 7. That’s $120 a week. That is just one example. Things here are cheap. Like food and land, but clothes, education, household items, etc…They are all the same price as the states. People don’t have a lot here. I’ve seen it, and I’m experiencing it. It has not been easy. Sometimes, honestly, it sucks really bad because we don’t know how we’re going to earn money. But the Lord ALWAYS provides.

For example, about a month ago, Jose and I had about 50 pesos left with no jobs lined up. We both had looked and searched like crazy, yet there was nothing. Since we got married we both have been looking forward to going to Stake Conference 40 minutes away. For both of us to go it would cost 200 pesos. The day before we decided to go visit Jose’s family and just spend time with them. Jose’s sister in law came up to Jose and gave him 200 pesos. He asked what it was for and she told him she was paying him for a lamp that he put in her apartment. A few hours later Jose’s sisters came to me and asked me if they could by some makeup I had in stock from my old job. I couldn’t believe it. The Lord provided us a way to go to conference and also enough for food the next week. The next week Jose found a two week job and now he is in Mexico City for more work. This job allows us both to work from home and have our own business. I am so grateful for the Lord. For him providing for our family.

I got sidetracked…but I felt the need to write the above. So for us yes, now we are financially OK, but for others it is not that easy. That is why the dads jump the border and go work to take care of their family. I know of so many women here in Mexico who are home alone and taking care of their children without their husbands. In fact this morning, I was talking to my Suegra about how much she missed her husband when he was gone to the states for YEARS at a time. And Jose is only gone for a WEEK. The sacrifice of these people is tremendous. So I guess what I’m saying is, please don’t be so quick to judge illegal immigrants. They are just trying their best for their families. They want to make a better future for their children. Isn’t that what so many people want when they go to the states? Yes some don’t have papers, but I know they would if they could. It is a lot of work and a lot of money to get them. Money that the people of this country do not have. The Government has tons, but the people have seriously nothing.

Through the eyes of this gringa I can see just a little of how the women live while their husbands are a country away for years and years. Mine is still in the same country and he is only gone for a week. But this week I have caught a small glimpse of what they are going through. And ladies…I get it and I respect the crap out of you.

-Ash