Balanced Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

Get out your measuring sticks!

In Cultural Expectations, Education, Immigrant Families, Immigrant Students, Parenting, Questions, Self Image, Traditions on November 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm

image Maybe I’m getting old, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in my life – if that even makes sense.

So, here I am about to move for  the 4th time since becoming an adult and I’m trying to figure out if I consider myself to be successful. I know that this judgment is relative to a person’s culture and experiences and only I can really know the answer, but I can’t help but to think of what my family (and friends) may have expected from me. I wrote a while ago about cultural expectations for career choices and I think that’s where this all starts.

My mom always pushed us to go far in school. Very early on she made it clear that she expected my sister and I to at least finish college. Check, so +1

Then, I made the choice to get married and start a family soon after graduating college. –1

But, then I went back to school and obtained my masters’. +1

However, I am still trying to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. –1

Even without my very expensive education 😉 , I would know that this complex equation adds up to 0. Let me also add that I know that my friends and family are extremely proud of me – it’s the successful part that make me wonder…

One thing I know for sure is that I am happy and I wouldn’t have things any other way. I just don’t want my type A personality to look back one day and wonder if I really made use of all my talents… 😥

How do you (or your culture) measure success?

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Update on the Rat and the Tooth Fairy

In Culture, Immigrant Families, Parenting, Traditions on July 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Current Score:

Rat 0-4 Tooth Fairy

Yes, you read correctly. So far, the tooth fairy is leading the game by 4 points. About a year ago, I wrote about my daughter losing her first tooth and incorporating both the American and Haitian traditions for this developmental milestone. What I failed to consider back then, is that my daughter who is easily scared, would want nothing to do with the rat.

When she finally lost the first tooth, she immediately asked me to put it under her pillow so that tooth fairy could bring her money. I explained to her that she also needed to ask “The Rat” to send her an ugly tooth before going to bed, so that in return she would get a shiny, beautiful tooth. Well, at the thought of “The Rat” paying her a visit while she slept, she told me she had no interest in putting the tooth under her pillow. Since she lost the second and third very soon after, I decided to give her some time to become more comfortable with the idea.

Well, last week she lost another one. She became very excited and said “now the tooth fairy is going to bring me a penny.” I quickly reminded her “don’t forget ‘The Rat’.” Without blinking, she handed me her tooth and said that she did NOT want the rat to come. She also climbed on my bed in record time 🙂

So, as it appears, I am losing this one…

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Not bad – for an American.

In Cultural Expectations, Culture, Questions, Traditions on April 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

My husband, a first generation immigrant, and I were talking about a mutual friend the other day and he made the statement, “For a person who was raised in the US, she’s very polite.” I asked him what he meant and when he didn’t elaborate, I assumed he has the feeling that Haitian children who are raised here have a tendency to only follow American norms – which can be misconstrued as rude.

Right off the heels of last week’s post about greetings, I thought how this was all based on his experiences where a 2nd generation Haitian has not greeted him properly or made him feel unwelcomed in his/her presence.

I am fortunate to have had enough experiences with Americans to know that expectations/manners vary and some are what he would consider very well-mannered (as with any culture). But, I’m sure his point of reference would always be  the Haitian culture and his observations would be “So-and-so is really nice – for an American.”

This stereotype is common amongst immigrant cultures and I think children raised here can come across as indifferent or aloof in adopting American mannerisms. I think this happens because the majority of the social settings they are in do not expect you to embrace everyone when you walk into a room, refer to all older people as “aunt” or “uncle” or to show subservience when hosting friends.

What are some of the misunderstandings/criticisms of American etiquette that your culture possesses?

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