Friday, January 30, 2015

cultural illusion

It looks like church.  It isn't.  Or, not exactly

For the past three* years, our church (now known as Costalegre Community Church) has sponsored a series of Cultural Awareness Classes.  The first year, we discussed Sarah A. Lanier's Foreign to Familiar: Understanding Hot and Cold Climate Cultures

It was a great place to start for those of us who were interested in learning a bit more about the cultural divides between American-Canadian and Mexican cultures.  (Come to think of it, a course on the difference between American and Canadian cultures might be a good idea.)

The last two years, we have recruited speakers from the local communities to talk about topics of interest for the people who attend the classes.  My doctor spoke last year about her work with the Indian school. 

This year, we have had speakers on the hot-cold cultural divide, a discussion from a Spanish teacher concerning the cultural significance of certain words, and a local doctor who discussed the history of local Indian tribes.

Last night, we heard from writer Linda Bello-Ruiz (also a member of our congregation) about the very complex issue of Mexican immigration to the United States.  Linda worked as a workers compensation return-to-work consultant in California for 26 years.  Through her work, she brought a lot of expertise to the discussion.

She also has some very strong views about immigration.  As do I -- even though our views are not exactly concurrent.

But she did raise some very interesting issues.  I was a bit surprised that the discussion did not get more heated.  When Linda asked how many of the attendees were Canadian, I understood why.  Over 80% of the attendees were from a country that did not have a dog in the immigration fight.

I spent most of yesterday away from the construction noise of concrete chippers, tile cutters, and Kenny G music cranked up loud enough to be heard over the rest of the cacophony.  I have a good idea what I want to cover next week. 

Oh, that's right!  I forgot to tell you.  Next Thursday I take a turn behind the lectern.  (And there's a great essay title.  You might see it in a few days.)

Our pastor allowed each speaker to pick a topic.  Mine is: "Who is a Mexican?: The Mestizo Myth."  The title, as you might expect, is far more provocative than the derivative content.

Last year, I tried to weave the same thread trough my one-hour summation of the history of Mexico  (it's showtime, folks; cinderella is home from the ball).  This year, I am reversing the process.  The question will not be a mere thread; it will be the theme.  And the saunter through Mexico's history will be aimed at how Mexico has seen itself as a nation (not as a state) since the Revolution -- and how that definition still excludes some members of Mexican society.

That sounds a lot more controversial than it is.  But it will give me another opportunity to tart up history as an entertaining vehicle.

All I need now is some entertaining bits to liven up the rather drab soup that is now simmering on the back burner.

* -- At least, I think it is three years.  It could be four.  I tend to get some of these facts a bit muddled with my comings and goings.

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