Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Teach Me, Please

I am Canadian, 100%.  Ernie might tell you that he is also but he is not; he is more half and half.  As a matter of fact, just recently, a friend from the gym said, "Ernie is losing his Canadian-ness, you let him stay much longer and he'll be all Mexican." What a compliment to him!  Nothing gives you a greater sense of well being than having your host country tell you that you are becoming like them.

That said, "Among the hardest tasks in life is to divest ourselves of the culture we wear so comfortably." (Duane Elmer: Cross-Cultural Servanthood) He goes on to explain that it's like having been in a play that is well known to you; you know the part perfectly. Now you are in another and it feels unnatural, even awkward at times. (19)  Well, we are in this 'new play' and we have asked our gang from the gym to be our 'tutors' in how to be Mexican.  This is setting us up to be corrected, and told that this is how to do it here, regardless of how our own culture does it.  "We generally favor our own cultural perspective and believe it to be superior to other perspectives."(52)  Elmer goes on to remind us that we need to be willing to learn about, from and with the host country. (93)

It also says something about our relationships with our new friends when they have the confidence to correct us or to explain their way of life to us.  We have been here for less than a year and have found Guadalajara to be quite distinct from Chihuahua.  So let me introduce you to some of our 'tutors': 
Juan & Claudia
Pictured above is the couple that pulled us into the 'family' at the gym we attend. They were the first to invite us to their home and introduce us to the group. Juan is the consummate people person, making sure everyone is connected. He took our invite (to helping us acculturate) and did something about it. Walking into the gym one day he noticed us and stopped us. He gently explained to Ernie that in Mexico the men were gentlemen. Ernie should carry my gym bag for me, right to the ladies locker, and then I should kiss him and say thank-you. He now watches us as we come to the gym to see if we are doing things 'right'. He said he would make Ernie into a gentleman! 

Eduardo & Carmen
The above couple are just such sweet friends. Lalo (as he is affectionately called) is the consummate jokester. He has us in stitches half the time. He is educating us in language, explaining what people mean when they say things, as often there is a double meaning. He is also helping us regarding music -which songs we need to learn. We KNOW that if we ever have a question, he will provide an answer.  

We are often told that we are not typical foreigners. We are open, wanting to learn, wanting to adapt and embracing of their culture. We hope that in the course of our friendship they will see that who we are, the parts they like, are due to Christ, who lives within us.

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