Friday, April 30, 2010

Guanajuato, Mex -- Gringolandian Kids

As I wrote in a previous blog, more and more Gringo families are moving to Mexico. There seems to be an interest in Guanajuato with some of these exodus participants if what my wife is reading in her online forums is any indication.

Many of them ask questions on these forums that seems to us to be a bunch of Gringos who know little to nothing about culture in Mexico. I actually read one online post (I blogged about this) where the woman boldly declared that having to learn Spanish was unnecessary because living in Mexico is just like living in another American state. She based this on, are you ready for this, the fact that Mexico has Wal-Marts. Believe it or not, she thought Mexico was just like living in America by virtue of the existence of Wal-Marts.

My Lord, these Gringos!

Anyway, just what families with kids think they are going to do with these kids once moving here is a little beyond my imagination.

Typically they ask questions that most certainly show a lack of understanding that Mexico is NOT America. They ask questions that seem to show that they believe Mexican society is organized or structured just like America. Some of the things which they want to know is how to get their kids involved in:

1) Summer Camp
2) Play groups
3) Art and music classes
4) Sports (They usually ask this question naming AMERICAN sports)
5) Day Care Center
6) Babysitters
7) Easter egg hunts, Easter Bunny, and Easter parades.

Now, this might not seem to weird to you but they end these lines of inquiry with the proviso that all these must be in English.

Where do they come up with this idea that English is universal here beats me!

(I have to say this: They will have the expectation universally that if a Hispanic comes to America he or she should know English but will not apply that mandate to themselves to learn Spanish.)

I know this couple who moved here for a year with their 14 year old daughter. While she was enrolled in an exclusive school she made friends with some Mexican girls. One of those girls she invited to her house (a typical American teenager thing to do) for a sleep over. The Mexican girl's parents refused to allow this since the American family was "unknown" to them.

This is not atypical. When I heard this story I made inquiries with one of my University Professor friends. He told me that this school the American girl was attending was considered one of the "higher-class" schools. He did not mean that in the sense of a higher quality school. He meant that in the sense that this school had students from a hoity-toity, snooty-pooty socio economical class of families. Families, I might add, that would not associate with families of a lower or unknown class of people.

Our landlady thinks this way. She told us that the area to which we moved was generally quiet but for a group of "lower class" kids in a school up the street when walking by our house on the way to and from school. When I asked, she said she meant they were lower class because they were walking to and from school rather than driving or being driven by drivers.

Do you get that? The fact they had to walk to school and home from school mean they were a lower class of humanity.

And, do you get that the degree to which your kids will be involved with other kids in this culture will be based on a centuries-old class system?

The shocking thing about this is that it seems to be the educated in this country who cling to this class system most strongly. They will often refer to someone who is socially inept as maleducado or poorly educated. In general, I have heard them say this about someone poorly dressed, drives poorly, drives an old model car, or pretty much anything else that is different from themselves.

If you move here you will have to contend with this class-system thinking. Americans don't get this. They just do not get this.

And, as I have previously blogged, it can takes years to get involved in the life of a Mexican family. I know Gringos here who have been in Guanajuato for decades and have never been in a Mexican's home. Never.

It took us seven years and getting involved in a protestant church (a rarity in this country) before we were consistently invited into Mexican's homes for a meal or just good, clean fellowship. Seven years!

I think it a tough row to hoe to move here with such intensely Anglo-Saxon acculturated kids and not expect culture shock problems.

No comments: