Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Handshake for a Kiss

To be quite honest, one of the strangest things about coming here, to me at least, is the way people greet each other. In the United States, when meeting a person for the first time, the usual firm handshake is expected. In Latin American countries, a light kiss on the cheek is the customary way of greeting a person; it is not a slobbery kiss smack dab on your face, it’s more like a kiss to the air and slight contact between cheeks. And from then on, greetings with friends become more affectionate and even "explosive", you could say. Upon seeing a friend, you'd find them yell out your name (MARI!!!) and open there arms really big and plant a big kiss on your cheeks and then hug for another 3 to 5 seconds. Here in the U.S. a friendly hug is about as far as that will go. Awkwardly enough, I have found myself going in for a kiss subconsciously and I have seriously "weirded" out the person. Now I don't know about you, but I love greeting people with a kiss, I find it a wonderful icebreaker and just so much warmer. I get a better sense of humanity; I love to show my friends that I love that, and to show strangers that I am open and willing to let them into my lives as new friends.

Maybe this world would be a better place if we showed just a bit more affection, even if it is toward a stranger... honestly, who would mind that? What is so bad about a simple air kiss? Cultural differences can be definitive when it comes to such a simple thing as a greeting, but they can make such a huge difference. I cannot imagine how Anh, a friend from Vietnam, would react to someone just lunging in to plant one on her without even knowing her.

I think it will take me a while to get used to just a wave of the hand or a light one-arm hug, but one of the great things about Trinity is the wide diversity of people and learning all their different ways of greeting, what is acceptable and what is not. Hopefully I will be able to avoid any other awkward greeting... but I will stick to the effusive, loud, and warm greetings that I love.

Creative Commons License
handshake by buddawiggi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Allow me to introduce myself...

Seeing that this is my first blog post ever, I would like to start out by talking a bit about myself and my diverse background.

Let's start from the very beginning. I was born on February 11th, 1993 in the weirdest city in Texas: Austin. This would mean that I love the winter season, heart shaped chocolates, and tie-dye. My parents are Pedro and Teresa Pelaez, both originally from Cali, Colombia and belonging to a large family tree of pure-blood Colombians. My dad  received a full grant to study at St. Edward's University in Austin and when he met my mom in Colombia she decided to move to Texas with my dad and they got married. They both have had to work very hard especially coming from low-income families and plunging into a new country so drastically. They have given  me a wonderful life and education, full of love and wealth (spiritual kind). Now I am studying at Trinity University and my childhood chapter seems to have ended and the cycle continues.

Like the patriotic Colombians they are, my parents raised me as a culturally bilingual child. My first language is Spanish...Barney the dinosaur took care of teaching me English. Almost every other summer we would go to Colombia and visit all the family, travel around all the major tourist sites, and just soaking everything in. So from a very early age I developed a deep sense of patriotism and love for my country. To me Colombia was home, it's where my heart was, and I absolutely loved visiting. I decided to go study my Junior year in high school at an American high school, the same one my dad graduated from. I loved it so much that I decided to stay for my Senior year and graduate there.

Coming to Trinity has taught me the many things Latin American countries have in common. It is not just Colombia but also the rest of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, there are many stereotypes and misconceptions of Latin Americans, our cultures, our traditions, our beliefs, our society, everything in general. I am here to hopefully clear the water.

Creative Commons License
Colombian Flag by Deptfordjon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.