Monday, July 12, 2010

Cultural legacy and differences

About a year ago my boyfriend, Pierre, met a Mexican lady named Rosa who, until recently, I had not met. I always wanted to meet her. She was like a miracle for Pierre. They met during a time when he was desperate to get a job but could not find it anywhere. Rosa got Pierre in contact with a friend of hers who ended offering him a job as an office assistant with a generous wage. I finally had the pleasure to be introduced to her when she invited both of us for dinner. When we arrived to her house, the burgers were almost ready. Lately, my diet has consisted of almost nothing really gross food not worth mentioning. Therefore, it was nice to have delicious warm food at the dinner table.

That night we met her children. They are really welcoming and outgoing. For example, it did not seem to matter to them that we just met. They would talk about stuff I would normally talk among really close friends. Surprisingly, the conversation made me feel comfortable. In other words, it was not awkward. For me it has always been easier to talk about THOSE things with strangers than talking about myself. Somehow I find it awkward when people start asking personal questions. It appears to me as they are doing it as a duty with the purpose to be respectful. I am convinced it is a North American thing, while starting a conversation with random topics is more Latin. I guess I could say that those kids have a bit of the Hispanic culture but unfortunately not all of it. Although they were born in Mexico, their family moved to Canada when these kids were only in preschool. Just like many other children that moved from their original country in a young age, they lost their mother tongue and most of the cultural customs of Mexico.

Official Seal of the Government of the United ...Image via Wikipedia

I noticed right away as we greeted in a very distant Canadian way, the handshake. They seemed to have forgotten how to “be” Hispanic. The simple kiss Hello & Goodbye says a lot about how much you really are emotionally tied to your original culture. Later that night, it became obvious. When we were about to say Goodnight, Rosa began commenting how in Latin America people kiss to greet others. Her kids began asking questions such as “what do you mean by ‘kiss’?” After some gestures made by Rosa, she seemed to have spoken the unspeakable. She told them that we even kiss complete strangers when introduced for the first time. Their facial expressions changed into a light disgust and surprise.

Their reaction made me remember of my first day of school in Canada. On that day, I was calm, as I clearly did not know what to expect. My parents dropped my sister, Amber, and me to school. Amber and me went to the administration office to see where we were supposed to go. We were told that on the first day of school we were to go just to homeroom. After struggling with the school’s map, we made it to homeroom. The room was a science lab completely different of what you might see in Argentina. Everything was in its place and was squeaky clean. It looked modern and bright; just gorgeous.

The bell rang and all of our new classmates poured into the classroom. I felt intimidated right then. First and foremost, our English never had any real practice. It was definitely a challenge to start up a conversation with the person next to us. However, we still managed to make a friend, Marina. She had transferred from another school so it was her first day too. As soon as homeroom was over we were all excited go home or hang out. That is when the golden moment began. 

Up until that moment, I did not have experience with a social life in Canada. I was not aware in any way of the cultural difference. When Marina, Amber, and me were outside waiting for our parents to come pick us up, we started chatting. She seemed like a really nice girl and a great friend. However, as we said Goodbye, I went in for a kiss Goodbye on her cheek. Marina stepped back and her facial and corporal expression seemed to say, “What are you doing? STOP MOLESTING ME!” From then on, this moment became the golden moment of embarrassment. When I saw her face I was horrified. How could a simple kiss on the cheek freak somebody out? I did not understand. After I realized how Canadian culture differs from Argentinean and Italian, I tried my best to assimilate the Canadian way. It took me a while to get used to saying Hello & Goodbye by just waving. It always felt as something was missing. It felt cold and distant. To tell you the truth I still do not understand how someone can be so distant, especially if the person is Hispanic. If the person is indeed from Latin America, I get annoyed and frustrated.

Rosa’s kids are no exception to my frustration. How can people get freaked out by their own culture, their own blood? It is sad to know this is happening. That is why I believe people should practice their original customs with people that share the same origin. Parents should pass their customs to their children and the children to their grandchildren. All of the different cultures are a legacy that we should all be cherishing.

A Non Perfect Normal Person

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heal the world

Anyone that knows me can tell that I have a soft spot for children. Since I was a kid myself, I have loved babies and toddlers. I can play with them for hours. As my mother once said to me "you have the patience of an angel." She never said that to my sister. Apparently, my sister did not enjoy being annoyed by a toddler. However, it is also true that she has been an independent woman since pre-school. She would walk alone one meter in front of my mother and I to the car or to the apartment. Maybe she did not like the idea of a kid clinging on to her. I really do not mind clinging children.

Kids are amazing. They are free from responsibilities. The only worries they have are broken toys, hunger and tiredness. At least that is the case for kids that grow up in an environment like mine; an environment where your parents have no significant debt, minimum problems at work, and a roof over their heads. As a kid, I had my toys to play with, the space to run, and no real reasons for crying. This is not the case for most children and it breaks my heart. 

After leaving behind the false reality of childhood, where I thought I could play, sleep, and eat without breaking a sweat, I have learned about those kids who have nothing. These kids play with rocks because they do not have toys, often eat little to nothing a week, and have to work to help their parents with basic expenses. If they cry, they have valid reasons. Reasons no child should have nor go through. I want to make a difference. I want every kid to have a better life. A life without worrying whether they have enough food or not. Hence I pledge to donate money for children in need anywhere around the world. Unfortunately I will have to wait until I get a stable job to support myself as well as the donations. I would like to be able to participate in events like Leona Lewis at the Children in Need concert. However, I have neither the voice nor the money to attend.

So for now, I have chosen to put up the Camfed ad on the right. It is a free way that I can donate but I do need your help. All you have to do is take a quick questionnaire. It is up to you. I am not forcing anyone to do it, but it would be deeply appreciated not only by me, but also by the girl who gets one more day of schooling. 

I know, some people prefer donating to other charities, such as natural disasters like Relief for Haiti, diseases like AIDS, and Breast Cancer awareness, as well many other charities. But why not get involved in a variety of them? What if it happens to you? Wouldn't you like a helping hand?

Let's build a better place for everyone. Let's heal the world.

A Non Perfect Normal Person

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Word Cup 2010 ° The teams I support

I am often told: "I notice you have an accent. Where are you from?"

Whenever that question pops up, I always answer: "It's complicated."

For starters, I do not have any memories from the country where I was born, Italy. My family and I moved to Argentina when I was four. I spent most of my childhood there. My mother tongue was lost and the only things that helped me feel still attached to Italy were the home videos my parents took, the Italian style home meals and desserts my mother prepared, such as home made pizza every Sunday and Tiramisu in special occasions, and the Italian music they brought with them. But all of their efforts to keep my Italian language going were in vane; every piece of Italian that I used to have were gone within a few years. Surprisingly enough, the little time I was in Italy is sufficient to support the Italian Soccer team with pride. However, I root for Argentina the most as everything I know and remember comes from there.

Seeing the Soccer World Cup is emotional considering I am neither in Argentina nor in Italy anymore. Whenever the Argentinean's Anthem plays I have an urge to stand up on the sofa with my Argentinean flag hanging from my hands. Meanwhile, my eyes fill up with tears of joy when seeing all Argentineans coming together and celebrating with passion. I only wish I was there to join in as this event is a chance to connect with the rest of Argentineans and Italians all over the world, far and near. So to compensate this desire I wear my Argentina's Soccer T-shirt with my I Love Argentina Cap or my Italian soccer jersey with my Italy Soccer Team's fan scarf whenever one of the two is playing.

I remember there was a match where they were playing against each other. I had no idea who to root for. Good thing I did not yet own any clothing supporting any of the two. If they go against each other this time, I am going to have to mix and match. I believe it is not safe as both countries take their "fĂștbol" seriously.

I wish both teams luck! Actually... I don't. Luck is for losers

Best wishes for these two amassing teams!! And good luck to Greece :)

A Non Perfect Normal Person

Why is my blog called the way it's called?

As a German psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Karen Horney, once said:

° The perfect normal person is rare in our civilization. °

This frase made me realize that many people point out my flaws almost every day. Which means that I am not a perfect normal person. I am common, and I am not afraid to acknowledge my defects. My flaws define my person, but also do my strengths. Being a non perfect person does not mean you do not have virtues; every one has them.

However, through the experiences in life, I have learned that the imperfections are the only way to become better and stronger as you make mistakes because of them. Sometimes I wonder if they really need to be called deficient traits. After all, they end up helping us. The opposite goes to someone's strengths. They can blind us. Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that me or you are a confident person. Tomorrow, there is a presentation in front of the whole class but you are not nervous. You know the subject, Why be nervous? Why practice? When you arrive to class, you do not have your notes. Why bring them? Your presentation starts and you choke. You cannot remember what went after "Good Morning, fellow students... "

This type of circumstances make me think that maybe weaknesses are strengths, and strengths are weaknesses. Or... every trait is both; a flaw and a virtue. So there might not be a chance to be completely perfect. I am sure that I will always live with an imperfection.

This does not apply only to me, but to you as well (I am sure). With that been said, I hope that the experiences that I will write on this Blog will reflect, in a way, on some of yours and, therefore, advices can be given by me and you, to become... well... close to perfect.

Wish you the best,

A Non Perfect Normal Person