Cultural Differences in Emotional Expressiveness: WEEK 6 5/29/2018

Teaching English to students from different countries and cultures has been so fun. I have loved my job and my studies. Each morning as I begin my classes with my Chinese students I ask them a simple question: “How are you?” More often than not, I get the answer “I’m fine.” They give me this answer with a straight face. A few months ago, I noticed this emotional unresponsiveness. I decided to do an experiment at the beginning of each of my classes. I wanted to know if their “fine” answers were a cultural answer, or something that all students said because they didn’t have the vocabulary for different emotions. Each class that I teach is a half hour long and each has a different age group and efficiency level.  The ages range from 3-15 years old.

I began the experiment by showing each class different pictures of people showcasing different emotions. Sure enough, most of the students could identify the different emotions. The next week, I began to ask students “how do you feel” instead of “how are you”. At first, students continued to say fine. So I gave them options. This is where I showed them the pictures from the previous week and asked them if they felt what the picture showed. The students began to identify with the photos and answered accordingly. The following week was the big test. I was going to try to get the students to express and show the emotions spontaneously on their face. Most of the students responded with “happy”. So smiles and laughter were my goal. That week, I had the most successful classes that I’ve ever had in my teaching experience. Each of my classes went from straight-faced “fine” kids to giggling, jumping children.

As I think about those weeks, it reminds me that each human experiences emotions, but each cultural doesn’t express them outwardly. In our own teaching, one way that we can help our students show more emotion (if that is the goal), is by building rapport with them and showing them that the classroom is a safe place to “let loose”.asia-1202527_1920

(Picture from http://www.pixabay.com)

 

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Having Harmony with your In-Laws

When I first told my parents that I was moving to Mexico to get married to Jose, my mom was excited, but my dad wasn’t as much. Mexico was far away, a dangerous place, and there was not much money or opportunity. These are the things that we all have been told about Mexico. These things are not necessarily true, though. There are safe places and prosperous areas. The best part of Mexico is the people. My in-laws taught me that. When my parents went to Aguascalientes for my wedding, they had the opportunity to meet Jose’s parents. Even though there was a language barrier, there was immediate kinship between the two sets of parents. My parents, especially my dad, were able to see the love that Jose’s family had. They were so kind and giving. Jose’s grandfather told my parents at the dinner table that even though they don’t have a lot of money, they have a lot of love and that is what they will give me. There were tears all around and my dad felt great about leaving his daughter with this sweet family. He knew that I would be taken care of. And he was right. My in-laws are one of the reasons why my transition to Mexico living was smoother than I expected. My mother in-law taught me to cook Mexican food and she taught me Spanish. My father in-law taught me that you can live off the land with hardly any money. The land always provides.

These blessings don’t always come when you combine two families. There are certain “family rules” and traditions that are so different that it could cause clashing moments in a family. It is important for a newly married husband and wife to build their relationship together rather than having the parents of the married couple involved. Advice should be taken with prayer. In Genesis 2:24 it says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Decisions about family matters should be between the two spouses.

Jose and I are no longer in the “honeymoon phase” so I feel like our personalities and traditions are shining through more now than they were the first while of our marriage. I would never bring up how my family did something when we first got married because “I was in Mexico now and needed to do things the Mexican way”. But the problem is, I’m not Mexican. I had to figure out a way to honor my in-laws and their traditions while still being true to myself and how I was raised. It is very important to me to find that balance. This is something that is ongoing, but it gets easier every day.

James M. Harper and Susanne Frost Olsen said in their article “Creating Healthy Ties with In-laws and Extended Families, “Marrying into a family that is different from yours or has different values can be a challenge. Demonstrating humor, exercising patience, overlooking small irritations, and looking for the positive can help in dealing with differences. One woman said: “When I met [his] parents … I didn’t agree with them on religion, politics, or even on how to cook a pot roast. I really wasn’t even sure if I liked them. But then l had to remember they had raised [my husband] and I loved him, so there must be something good about them. At that point, I began to enjoy their differences, and to love them, too.””

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One way that I have found that I am able to build relationships with my in-laws is by cooking for them. My mother in-law still walks into the kitchen and tells me how to cook, but I politely tell her that I’m making something that I learned from my mom. She knows then to let me be and she’ll try the food after. We have different religions, but I like to show interest in their religion. I feel it is respectful to honor what they believe. This doesn’t mean that I believe it, but I respect and love them so I have interest in what they do.

By doing these things with our in-laws we not only build our relationship with them, we strengthen our own marriage. We are showing love to the ones who raised our sweethearts. We are showing respect to the grandparents of our children. Contention is lessened. This also can strengthen the relationship that our children have with their grandparents. There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home, even in our in-law’s home.

Unity in Marriage

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Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. This is important to remember because men and women are different but complement each other. In a marriage, they are equal. There are roles that the Lord has set out for us in marriage and family, but these roles work together to raise a righteous family. In the Family Proclamation to the World it says…

“by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, father and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”1

It is so important that one spouse doesn’t exercise unrighteous dominion over the other. This does not promote unity and love in a marriage. This also does not set a good example for our children to follow in their own marriages. Our duty as parents is to teach and guide our children how to be kind, responsible adults. President David O. McKay has said “The most important thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother”.2 We teach our children more by how we treat our spouse and more by our actions, than the words that we speak.

Respect is something that is key to a marriage. Each person is an individual and needs to be seen as such. The woman in the marriage should not be silent because “her husband is the head of the family”. Like the proclamation says, they are equal partners. The best example of this is shown in the marriages of the apostles and prophets and their wives. President Gordon B Hinckley and his sweet wife were in an interview and Sister Hinckley stated that President Hinckley never tells her what to do. In response, President Hinckley said…

“I’ve tried to recognize my wife’s individuality, her personality, her desires, her background, her ambitions. Let her fly. Yes, let her fly! Let her develop her own talents. Let her do things her way. Get out of her way, and marvel at what she does…If there is anything that concerns me, it is that some men might try to run their wife’s lives and tell her everything she ought to do. It will not work. There will not be happiness in the lives of the children nor of the parents where the man tries to run everything and control his wife. They are partners. They are companions in this great venture that we call marriage and family life”.3

I got married a little later in life, so when I got married I was so independent. I had lived on my own for a long time, paid my own bills, made my own decisions, and worked. I took care of myself. Then, although I was thrilled to get married, I had a hard transition. All of a sudden, I had someone else telling me what to do. Jose had the same experience. We really struggled to find balance between being independent and depending on each other for support. It is still hard, but something that has helped us Is having our own hobbies. We still have most of our lives together, but there is one part that we try not to interfere with in the other person’s life. Sure, we’ll share and talk about what we are doing, but no suggestions are made. This has been a big help for us in our marriage. It may not work for everyone, but for us, it has been working wonders.

I encourage all couples to find unity in marriage through the teachings of the gospel. The true unifier is our Savior, Jesus Christ. If there are struggles, He can help to dissolve them. We need to go to Him, together.

 

  1. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true, LDS Church
  2. “Love Her Mother”, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/love-her-mother?lang=eng, Elaine S. Dalton.
  3. Marjorie Pay and Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, October 2003, pp. 22, 27

The Gringa Tries Mexican Candy

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Get ready for a post full of selfies!

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AND THE FUN BEGINS!

grossThe first candy I tried was Chavalinas Dip. We got this in our bag of apples a few weeks ago, so I figure it is supposed to be eaten with them… it is kind of like a liquid chile. It  came in a package that reminded me of ketchup. Opening it was quite a challenge.selie

And then it splattered…all over my fingers. I was not expecting it to be a brown with a grimy texture. It oozed out the package so quickly! I had to act fast!

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Verdict? Not my favorite. And my tongue looks like it is bleeding.

Next is Cremino! This one looked so delicious. Milk AND white chocolate? Heaven.IMG_5105IMG_5106

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Ready to add marshmallow? I AM! Malvabon looked very strange. Remember when you were little and you’d hold the eraser of a pencil and as you shook it it would look like rubber? That’s just like Malvabon.

As we all know, I have been craving peanut butter. That is such a common theme on this blog. So I found something quite similar! Mazapan! This candy is very common here and a lot of people recognize this as a traditional Mexican Candy.

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IMG_5110You need  A LOT of water after you have a Mazapan because it is so dry, but oh so delicious!

As I looked down at the pile to grab the next piece of candy I froze. I was petrified.

no way I have to try the chile/mango sucker. I’ve heard of this one. After the experience with the chile apple dip, I’m not sure about this one.

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It was horrible but I had to finish it. Jose came in while I was suffering and took a few tastes because, believe it or not, this is his favorite candy. He says once you reach the mango part it’s the best! You get the best of both worlds. Spicy and then sweet.

How many licks does it take to get to the mango?

It took forever! And you gotta take water breaks. BUT THE MANGO WAS DELICIOUS! It tasted like a real mango! I guess it was worth the pain to get to the treasure.

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Now for my favorite. Coconugs. I know this is a post about the first time trying them, but I couldn’t leave out my best friend coco. This little buddy has brought me so much joy in my time here. It is a special treat when I get to have one of the beautiful nuggets.

These are amazing!!