This month the NI2A classroom was surprised with a pleasant young woman from Illinois who came to talk to us about her country and particularly about her area of the Midwest USA. She looked like a teenager full of life and poised. She told us about her life, her family and her country.
Firstly, Lauren, as she is called, talked about her country: the USA. I would like to reflect about the similarities and differences between our countries, because this country shares many features with our country, in general, and specifically with our land, the Canary Islands. Our lands have a mix from many other cultures, a lot of immigrants and stereotypes.
Some stereotypes of Canary people maintain that we are relaxed, insecure, cheerful, modest and pacific people, with a very easy attitude to take, we have a sweet and calm voice, limited vocabulary, an ironic and fond humour. We have to know that Canary people characteristics come from our geography, our education system, our socio-political relationships, and the cultural influences from other countries and also from the conquest of Spanish people.
American people stereotypes are often negative adjectives, but this depends on the resources you look into. They are known by their cartoons, TV series, films and news. The Simpsons cartoons represent fat, lazy, dumb and informal people. Hollywood films show busy, cold people not interested in their families. The news reports speak about crimes, politics, rich, powerful and ambitious people. Some tourists who come to Spain do not improve this negative image. They are also influenced by other cultures, they were conquered and they have suffered different attacks. But the same happens with us on TV, news, films and so on. Despite of this kind of publicity, we may go beyond this information and think about the reality of life.
We have a lot of similarities, but the well-known ones are that we like sweet food and we are flexible and we adapt to changes from another cultures. We also have differences:
We, Canary people, don´t have a feeling of a big nation. We are more individualistic or we support our little geography. Firstly our town, and secondly our island (we have historic, but no strong discussions between islands), but actually, we do not feel very Spanish. However, American people feel very proud of their nation and their symbols.
Because of the insecurity and psychological dependence we are not very confident and enterprising, unlike Americans. Another big difference is that we feel safe, and Americans feel very afraid of other countries, due to the politics, advertisings and threats, and private, economic and political interests.
We must think that society is dynamic and changeable. If we think in a positive way and we respect each other, we will head to a new big society with many countries without borders, with a passport called peace, with similitude and differences, which would enrich us. Unless we get rid of stereotypes and be aware of the importance of cultural variety, we will not manage in an interconnected world to solve problems together.
(This thoughtful, reflective essay was written by Idaira of NI 2A. I appreciate her insights and thank her for giving permission to reproduce it here on the blog.)