Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Is My Responsibility As A Mexican Living Abroad?

Last week I posted a discussion on whether or not Mexicans living abroad had the responsibility to go back and apply what they had learned in a specific field in Mexico to help it grow. This came from an article I read and I have to say that my initial reaction was totally against it. My opinion is that for a lot of the people who have left the country, the reason has been the search for better opportunities, unfortunately Mexico is a country that no longer offers the chance to grow and to have a peaceful and economically stable life. I have always thought that it is unfair to have to go elsewhere to find the kind of life your own land should offer and for that reason I don't feel responsible for going back and sharing what I learned through this experience.

A few hours after posting the discussion I received an e-mail from an uncle telling me that my great grandfather was one of the deputees who signed the Mexican Constitution in 1917. This came as a big surprise for me, a very pleasant one in fact, but it also questioned everything I had thought in regards to that discussion. It made me ask myself if I should follow my great grandfather's ideals, if I had inherited the responsibility of fighting for a better future for my home country...

I have been away for five years and honestly I don't see myself going back, but does that mean that I am turning my back on everything he wanted his country to become? What would he say to me if I had the chance to talk to him?

According to Inegi (Mexico's statistics department), 50.8% of the people who migrate are between 15 and 24 years old and 25.2% are between 25 and 34. This means that a lot of the Mexicans who are at their peak of productivity are the ones leaving the country, so very little talent is left for the country to change and grow. Inegi also states that only 14.6% of all the migrants return. It is very sad to see that a lot of the young people have given up on doing something for their country. What would need to happen for us to be willing to go back? Will my son ever have the desire to live in a country with so much violence and corruption? Why would he?

To this date there are still a few things that tie me to my Mexican culture like the customs, the food, the traditions, the language and most importantly my family who still lives there... but will that change? Will some of that fade as the country continues to become more hostile?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Color Is Your World?

I was reading a very interesting article that talks about a study they have done about how our own culture affects how our brains are shaped. Depending on where we live and the cultural information (formation) we receive our brain takes a different shape than that of people who live in a different country (culture).

What is really interesting of this article is that it helps us realize how deeply ingrained is our culture in each one of us to the point that it shapes our brain differently. To me, it raises so many questions! But at the same time, it helps me understand why it becomes so difficult to adapt to a different culture for so many people! How can you adapt... let alone adapt, how can you understand a foreign custom when it doesn't make sense because it is stored in a different "compartment" of your brain! It is very clear to me that this whole thing of being an expat and trying to feel at home in your new world is a lot more of a conscious effort (for many people it can even be a struggle) than a smooth transition.

It also makes me wonder what will happen with my son, who was born here and who will grow up immersed in the Canadian culture, but whose brain will also be shaped with some of the Mexicn culture. What a fascinating experience! I am sure that this difference in how his brain will be shaped he will be more open and sensitive about other cultures and much more understanding.

The article also talks about the "universal truths" and how much they mean or not mean the same to everyone. It is just as if each culture saw the world in a different color, but because we don't know any better, we asume everyone sees it the way we do. And it doesn't mean we are not tolerant or willing to accept the differences, it is just that we have never (and will never) be able to see it any other way. It is a huge trust issue!

So, who gets to decide what the definition of "human rights", or "wealth", or "democracy" is... as the world becomes more globalized these become more delicate issues. And as the cultures continue to merge and people continue to move from one place to another, the possibilities become countless!

For me it is just amazing how us humans continue to evolve and change as social beings, and how, at the same time, we become better able to understand ourselves and our relationships with others.