Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Becoming Mexican

Will I ever be a Mexican?  Will I ever loose my "Candian-ness? Can one ever truly acculturate? 

This past week I shared on my Facebook wall a page someone had posted called "How to become a Mexican in 25 easy steps".  I am not sure what the article would say on how to become 'Canadian'?  Maybe put 'eh' behind every other phrase, drink Tim's, love hockey, talk about the weather all the time, know what a 'poutine' is. ... ...  don't know exactly.  What I do know, is that each culture is distinct, each does things that are normal to them, has idiosyncrasies that they are mostly unaware of.  

To live in another culture you have to adapt.  It's that, or go nuts.  But I personally don't think one is every truly acculturated. Why?  Because your thought processes, the window you are viewing the world out of, will always be one you see through.  

I have always thought that I should adapt to the host country I lived in.  When living in Nicaragua, I ate 'Gallo Pinto', talked in 'vos', pointed with my lips, etc.  When I lived in Chihuahua, Mexico, I ate burritos, was direct, had a more rural mentality.  Now I live in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I eat chilaquiles, try to talk flowery, and love Mariachi.  In all three locations I spoke Spanish, as that is the language spoken.  But I am not Hispanic and never will be, try as I might.

I think like a Canadian, my world view is broader than some, due to my experiences abroad, but I do not think like a Hispanic.  This became clear to me recently at an event.  I had an interchange with  a friend and was reprimanded for my response to something said.  I was contrite, apologised but confused.  Upon much reflection I realised that I had viewed the situation from my Canadian perspective while he was expecting me to understand the situation like he did.  There are just times when that is not possible.  

As much as I love Latin America, I will never be latin.  I have come to understand that when I make a mistake, put my foot in it, say something that gets a raised eyebrow, its okay.  I need to be sensitive, try not to offend, but I can relax.  I am not Mexican and will make mistakes, some are just plain unavoidable.  Coming to this understanding has helped me a lot.  Sometimes they forget we are not Latin and laugh (at, or with us) when we make an error.  But if you work to develop strong relationships, 'love covers a multitude of sins'.  

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