Let’s be thankful!

The Thanksgiving celebration is easily embraced among the Latinos that live in the United States because this holiday is about gratitude, families and traditions. Hispanics place a high value on families and enjoy all the opportunities to get together and build memories. Thanksgiving is sure a favorite holiday. Although life brings many challenges and obstacles, let’ make our days, a life of thanksgiving. There is so much to be grateful for! So much.thanksgiving-quotes-5

5 Reasons why parents need to stop using la chancla as a disciplinary resource

The internet is packed with memes about Latino parents that use la chancleta o chancla to beat their children. Although chancla memes can be very funny, corporal punishment in childhood is a serious problem and needs to be abolished from our culture. Hitting, beating, pinching, striking or slapping a child is abuse and is damaging. Here I share 5 reasons why parents need to stop using la chancla as a “disciplinary” resource.

lachancleta1. It causes confusion

Corporal punishment teaches children that violence is acceptable in the name of affection. Children end up believing that they deserve the corporal punishment and this wrong thinking could cause them later to look for approval and affection in the wrong places and in the wrong ways.

2. It creates a cycle of violence.

Research data shows that those that beat their children were also physical punished when they were young. Sadly, there is a direct correlation between physical punishment in childhood and aggressive behavior in the adult years.

3. It hurts relationships.

La chancla interferes greatly with the special bond between parent and child. It affects trust and open communication.

4. It is ineffective

Some people think that la chancla helped them to behave better, however, this is not exactly right. The decision to behave better is based on fear than self-motivation and it doesn’t last long.  La chancla as a disciplinary resource doesn’t teach the child how to resolve conflict and have self control.

5. Alters brain development

In a 2009 study, researches found out that corporal punishment in childhood alters brain development decreasing the amount of gray matter in some brain regions that have been linked to addiction, depression, and other mental disorders.

WHAT CAN A PARENT DO INSTEAD?

Oh, I know that those little rascals can sure drive us crazy, but I have good suggestions that may help you whenever the situation with your child gets challenging.

  1. Breath. Breath and calm down.
  2. If #1 doesn’t work (because sometimes it. just. doesn’t. work,) please withdraw from the situation, make sure your kids are safe and come back when you have control of your emotions.
  3. Also it helps to educate yourself so you can understand why your child is doing what he or she is doing. I have learned that there is always a reason. Maybe your child is tired, needs attention or has a basic need that has been neglected.
  4. Learn other techniques that you can do to discipline your children such as time outs, giving them options, natural consequences, etc.
  5. Remember that they are children and they are still trying to figure out boundaries and learn self control.
  6. Get to know your children and build a  relationship of trust with them.
  7. Parenting is not easy and requires a lot from us, if you feel that it is too much to handle, please don’t hesitate to seek help. It is not wrong to accept that we need help.

LET’S BREAK LA CHANCLA CYCLE

OUR KIDS DESERVE BETTER.

On Latino culture, skin color and race

“Yes” I answered.

“That makes sense why they are blond” said the stranger.

Blond? Makes sense? Whaaaat?   I was lost. I have been talking to this lady for about an hour, but for the past five minutes I haven’t been paying full attention to the conversation. I am distracted with my fearless toddler who is serious about jumping from the top of the big slide of the playground.

When I finally made sure that my crazy kid stops his attempt to pay a visit to the ER, I apologized to the lady and asked to repeat her question again. She seemed annoyed.

“I was asking if you were Spanish and you said that you were, aaaand that makes sense why your kids are blond. Kids from Latin America are not blond,” she said.

twogirls

Her answer confused me again. I am not sure it was due to her bad attitude or her ignorance, however, I think I kind of understand where her remarks came from: Latinos have a mixed racial identities. Maybe she didn’t know that and of course she doesn’t understand what it means.

The distinction between race and color can be complex and confusing especially when it is applied to the Latino community. In the 2010 Census, many Latinos chose “other” as their race because the options for race in the census didn’t fit us.

Race for Latinos should be determined more about culture than color. Culture defines the beliefs, attitudes, customs of a group of people and it is transmitted to one generation to another. Color, at other hand, doesn’t define anything because Latinos come in all shades and sizes.

Unfortunately, our Latino culture still have traces of the absurd hierarchical system of race classification created in Latin America during the colonial period, the “sistema de castas” where phenotype dictated privileges and opportunities.

Isn’t absurd how an ignorant system created more than  five hundred years ago still affects us?  A dear friend from Cuba shared with me the concerns about her two dark skinned boys growing up in a society that puts too much emphasis on the skin color. She mentioned how lucky I am that my kids are light skinned because their lives will be easier and they won’t experience racism like her children will. That is heartbreaking.

Regardless of the skin color and where your parents come from is you what matters and what you are doing right now to write your story.

How to win the bilingual rebellion stage

Throughout the school year, my kindergartner studied every continent of the world. When they studied South America, I presented a brief power point slide about Ecuador. My girl dressed up with the traditional Ecuadorian clothing and shared some chifles (plantain chips) with everyone at the end of our presentation.

photo (1)

Her little friends showed special interest in the Galapagos turtles and the snakes of the Amazon. It was heart melting to hear my girl adding more after my comments like she was an “expert” of all things Ecuador. I love that she felt some kind of connection and belonging to the country and culture where her mami comes from.

It wasn’t always like that.

She was almost three years old the first time she “rebelled” with Spanish. We were folding clothes when I asked her to pass me la falda (skirt). She struggled to remember what falda meant and instead of asking for help, she told me that “she didn’t want to speak Spanish ever again because…she was blonde!” Bless her little heart.

Continue reading

My seven-year-old doesn’t like el Chavo del Ocho.

If you grew up with a Latino family, it is very likely that you know El Chavo del Ocho, a Mexican television sitcon that reached enormous popularity in Latin America and is considered one of the most aired shows in the television history.

El Chavo centers on the adventures of a poor orphan child and his friends living in a low income housing complex and explores with humor many of the challenges that children face due to poverty. The show is a classic and its characters are very beloved in the Latino culture.

memoria-do-chaves

Yesterday, I noticed that El Chavo was on Netflix and thought that it was a great opportunity to share it with my seven-year-old daughter. I wanted to share a part of my childhood with her, however, the show raised more questions and concerns than enjoyment.

“Why is that grown-up hitting the little boy?”

“Why is the woman hitting the man all the time?”

“Why they call mean names to each other?”

Boy, was I impressed with her analysis and thankful for her ability to do it!

I wonder how many of the Latino children that live outside Latin America would “get” this Latino classic. I don’t know but the only think I am sure is that El Chavo del Ocho didn’t get a new fan yesterday. 

Todos somos México

Es que todos somos México,” respondió mi amiga dominicana después que le comentaba cuánto me impresionó la reacción inmediata de toda la comunidad latina ante los comentarios del candidato presidencial Donald Trump sobre los inmigrantes mexicanos en junio de este año.

En los Estados Unidos, el 64% de la población latina es de origen mexicano, por lo que los problemas, retos y desafíos en diferentes áreas que enfrentan actualmente nuestros hermanos mexicanos afectan directamente a todo el resto de los latinos que no somos mexicanos y sin duda también a nuestro futuro.

Para el 2060, la comunidad latina que actualmente es considerada la más grande minoría, se pronostica que constituirá el 31% de la población nacional con 128.8 millones de personas. ¿Qué significa eso? Mucho. En 45 años, tendremos terceras o cuartas generaciones de latinos viviendo en los Estados Unidos que enfrentarán otros desafíos que son típicos de las terceras y cuartas generaciones: el inicio de la pérdida de la lengua natal y la cultura de sus padres.

photo (3)

Por eso y por más, es tan imperativo la creación de programas e incentivos donde se promueva y fomente la importancia de abrazar nuestra lengua natal y cultura. La Ciudad de Raleigh, a través del departamento de “Parques, Recreaciones y Recursos Culturales” es un gran ejemplo al brindar a la comunidad latina oportunidades que fomente y promueva su cultura y lengua natal a través de programas y eventos durante todo el año. Por ejemplo, el fin de semana pasado, en el Museo de la Ciudad de Raleigh, se desarrolló un programa especial por el Día de los Muertos de acuerdo a las tradiciones mexicanas. Los altares, la música típica, la elaboración de papel picado y la degustación del pan de muerto fueron parte de la celebración y fue una oportunidad para todos los que participamos podamos aprender y de esta manera fomentar esta tradición.

photo (2)

La Ciudad de Raleigh también promueve programas para que sus ciudadanos puedan aprender español. Actualmente, todos los estudiantes de las clases de español no son de origen latino, sin embargo, en unos años lamentablemente ésto puede cambiar si nuestros niños de ahora no aprenden a hablar y a escribir correctamente nuestra lengua madre. Es aquí cuando la importancia de tener acceso en todo el país a más escuelas de inmersión es urgente, así como también, la publicación de más libros en el idioma español.

Tenemos muchos desafíos pero si los latinos que vivimos ahora decidimos que todos somos México, es decir, que todos somos uno, podremos alcanzar muchas cosas juntos.

Things to know before traveling to Ecuador

Although Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, there’ s a lot of diversity, beauty, history and fun packed into one small area. You can see volcanoes, the Amazon rainforest and beaches in a single day. Isn’t that amazing?  You can also visit the Galapagos Islands, the amazing historic sites or have the time of your life in the wildlife. It is true what they say: “Like nowhere else. All in one place. All you need is Ecuador”

Here are a few things to know before traveling to Ecuador

Imagen 237

Visa

Citizens of most countries of the world do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days. Check with your embassy if you’d need one.

Currency

The official currency system in Ecuador is the US Dollar. Major credit cards are accepted, however, there is a 10% service charge in all credit card payments. Please note that small stores and small restaurants only accept cash.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Ecuador and is spoken by the majority of the population.

Electricity

110 Volts

Climate and best time to travel

The climate in Ecuador will depend on the geographical area you are and the time of the year that you visit.

There are four geographical areas in Ecuador: the coastal lowlands, the highlands, the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands . The coastal lowlands, the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands are tropical and humid with average temperatures of 35 °C during the day and 28 °C during the night.  The highlands have a cool climate with an average temperatures of 26  °C during the day and 10  °C during the night due to its elevation.

There are two seasons in Ecuador: the dry season is considered from June to September and the wet season runs from October to May. The best climate is found on dry season.

Transportation

By air

The two most important airports are Mariscal Sucre International Airport   (Quito) and Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (Guayaquil)  There are other small airports around the country.  The main domestic airlines are: TAME,  Lan and Avianca.

By land

Before talking about the many options to travel by land in Ecuador, I want to stress the importance of being aware of your surroundings. If you are going to take a taxi, my best advice is to take a taxi working for the airport or the hotel you are staying at. Never, never, never take an informal or unregistered taxi or a taxi that is pretty much begging you to offer their services for a cheaper price. Renting cars is another option if you want to experience the Ecuadorean highways, however, keep in mind that drivers in Ecuador are well known for being wild.

Buses and busetas (small buses) are very affordable and usually efficient to travel inside the country. I highly recommend to experience the train. Taking the train is more for the amazing experience of breathtaking views than for the convenience. The train route from Alausí to Guayaquil is known for being one of the most amazing railway experience in the world.

Places to go

There are so many places you can go and visit in your stay in Ecuador. Here is my recommended list:

Galapagos Islands: The main touristic attention of the country for its diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else in the world.

Guayaquilis the financial city of Ecuador and is known as a jump off point to other places in the country. If you click here, you can find my list of things to do and see in 3 days in Guayaquil.

Quito: Ecuador’s capital and UNESCO World Heritage Centre built on the ruins of an Incan city.

Montañita

Otavalo Handcraft Market

Cotopaxi Mountain

The Devil’s Nose

Amazon Rainforest

Ingapirca

Cuenca

Baños

IMPORTANT: The U.S Embassy and other organizations advise foreigners against all travel to the 20 km exclusion zone along the entire northern-border with Colombia due to guerrilla groups, drug traffickers and gangs. In other words, stay away from the Colombian border!

Saving Tips

  • Buy fresh veggies, fruits, milk, bread and eggs at the many “tiendas” and mercado.
  • Many small restaurants offer a complete meal for $1.5 – $3.
  • Choose to stay at “hostales” (small hotels). Hostales that are close to the main streets of the city usually have a good reputation.
  • Sometimes you can find good deals for tours and hotels if you book them last minute.

Safety Tips

  •  Make two photocopies of your passport ID page, airline ticket, tour documents, and airline itinerary. Leave one at home and carry the other copy with you.
  • Travel in groups if you can and avoid walking in dark streets.
  • Try to book a taxi through your hotel. And if you are in Guayaquil o Quito, make sure it has the registration number sticker displayed on the doors and windscreen.
  • If you need to use ATMs, do it in the mornings and choose ATM’s that are actually attached to banks or found inside malls.
  • Muggings and pick pocketing are very common so be always aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not carry large sums of cash on you. Only carry with you as much money as you need for the day. Keep small bills and coins in your pocket for easy access.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry when walking in the street or on public transportation.
  • Avoid travelling by road after dark and avoid taking interprovincial buses that are known to stop to pick up passengers.
  • Only drink water from water bottles with their sanitary registration number. My family’s choice of water bottles are:Tesalia, Guitig, Dasani and Vivant.