Balanced Melting Pot

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Boy, have times changed!

In Cultural Expectations, Culture, Immigrant Families, Parenting, Questions, Thoughts on June 22, 2009 at 11:35 am

My mother recently asked that I send my six year-old daughter to spend the summer with her in Haiti. Now, this is a huge request under any circumstances, as I have not yet become comfortable with extended separation from my children (I’m told it gets easier with time). But, knowing how much she misses her grandmother, I gave the request a lot of consideration.

I know that spending the summers in Haiti growing up helped keep my connection to a place that I could have easily forgotten. If not for those summers, I would have missed out on time spent with my family members; some of whom are no longer with us. Those summers also taught me a great deal about the culture and social norms.

So, of course, I began thinking that a summer there would provide the same benefits to my daughter. Then it hit me – things are not like they were when I was a child (this is a phrase I told my mother I would never say because it always sounded close-minded coming from her :-o).

For instance, children no longer play the skillful games of osle or marbles. They no longer get dressed up on Sunday afternoons – just because. They also don’t jump rope at night when it was just the right temperature. Instead, afternoon games have been replaced with telenovelas and music videos. And Sundays, well they’re just Sundays.

So, indeed, times they are a changin! Can you relate to this, or am I getting old :-)? Am I wrong to lack enthusiasm over exposing my daughter to the evolved culture just because it’s different from my experience?

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Misplaced Guilt

In Cultural Expectations, Culture, Immigrant Families, Questions, Race Relations, Self Image on June 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

A few weeks ago, there seemed to be an unusual burst of stories about Haitians in the news. As with most news stories, most of it was very bad stuff.

As I sifted through story after story or heard another “breaking news” interruption, this feeling of guilt kept brewing. I started to wonder if it was just me or did every Haitian feel some sort guilt when another gets caught in criminal activity. Moreover, does the Mexican, Cuban or Columbian feel the same way?

I have trying to figure out whether I am bothered that this bit of news will cast a negative light on an immigrant group that is often misunderstood, or if I have an unrealistic expectation that Haitians should never commit crimes in the US because, after all – we are guests here.

Whichever reason it is, I am now much more conscious of these feelings and want to ensure that I do not pass them on to my children. Rationally, I know that we are not even responsible for family members’ actions, much less an entire nation. However, in these instances my emotions tend to get the best of me and I  find myself cringing when I hear that the accused is from the same country as me and family.

Do you ever have feelings of guilt when immigrants from your country of origin are in trouble with the law? If not guilt, do you experience any other emotion? Do you think immigrants should hold themselves to higher standard or should it be expected the anyone can be a criminal; regardless of status?

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