Raising our kids in a country that neither of us grew up in definitely has its cons as we miss family across the border or in other parts of the world. It also has its plus side as our kids are growing up aware of three different cultures within our own home: Mexican, Peruvian and American.
Yesterday, we celebrated Mexican Independence Day with our kids, which essentially meant no school, but since it was a mid-week break, we didn't go anywhere too far and spent the day at parks, doing puzzles and eating yummy food. (Chilaquiles, Molletes and Molcajete con Arrachera). The day before, the kids learned more about Mexico's "birthday" and how the good guys beat the bad guys and Mexico became independent (in their words). They yelled "Viva Mexico!" just as we all do the night of September 15th.
It's important to note here that Mexican Independence Day is not on May 5th or Cinco de Mayo as so many people where I grew up tend to believe and celebrate eating nachos, wearing sombreros and drinking Corona beer.
While this idea of celebrating something on Cinco de Mayo may very well just be an excuse to drink Mexican beer and have a fiesta with your friends, I think it is also telling to some degree of how much we actually understand or want to understand other cultures and countries.
I say that ever so carefully as I know that it's only thanks to living abroad that my eyes have been opened to so many things that I wrongly assumed in the past about a country, about traditions, about lifestyle and more.
Until we are in the shoes of another or in the country of another to stay and learn and love, I think it's unfair to assume we know "the best way to live". I wrote about this nearly two years ago, when my husband Walter and I helped those making the long migration from Central America to the United States. And I wrote about this "Whole New World" that had been opened up to me, much of which opened my eyes and my heart to things I had never even tried to see before.
Living in Mexico, being friends with many people from different Latin American countries who have fled their countries due to poverty, danger, hunger and all with the shared hope of finding a better future for themselves and their family, my heart feels the pain and literally can see it while talking with those who have fled.
Yet, there's such a disconnect with humanity when I see people from my own country making policies "protecting the USA from immigrants" and promoting ICE, which has ultimately brought so much devastation and brokenness to families in the US and on the border. I see people posting things on Social Media, "Those people deserve it. How dare they try to enter our country illegally?"
And I can't help but think. Who are you to know what's best for another? Who am I to know what's best for another? What would you do if your family was literally starving to death? What would you do if your family was in danger and unable to sleep at night because you never know if you'll wake up the next day? Who are we to judge and to protect our own pockets?
When I read the article this week about ICE officials giving young immigrant women stuck at the border hysterectomies without consent, I cried. Seriously, USA, it's 2020.
Yet, to be honest, I've cried a lot with what I've seen happening in my home country over the last few years. I've never been one to bring up politics or talk much about it. Easy "excuse" to accept when your life has been privileged and your pocketbook has been protected. I grew up in a household convinced that there was only one correct political party. The alliance to this political party baffles my mind as a thinking adult. As I see people make the argument for a single-issue (abortion) voter arise over and over again, I realize I voted that way when I was 18 and was convinced that was the most important thing thanks to my very conservative surrounding and indoctrination at the time.
And yes, I value human life. I can't deny that. But I value all human life, which includes Black, Latinx, Homosexual and Women. So many of the policies or the statements I see people stating from the Republican side of the argument devalue or diminish the importance of all human rights. Getting stuck on one issue without looking at the whole picture, so many lives of other humans are devalued.
I understand that by simply writing this or saying any of this out loud, I will not change anyone's mind or heart on this matter. But I feel like it's something important to be said.
So much of the division I'm seeing in a country I no longer live in saddens me. Though no country is perfect, I am shocked by the inhumane response of the "church" in general and how this election brings to light once again the prevalence of white male supremacy and the idea that protecting your own bank account and ideals remains to be a priority while human rights for ALL humans gets disregarded once again.
Living abroad has been a gift. For so many reasons.
Moving to Mexico allowed me to meet my husband, who left Peru in pursuit of a better life and a better economy in which we can continue to support his family in Peru. We, as immigrants, have made our life here in another country.
Moving to Mexico allowed me to see beauty and perspectives in ways I never would have known had I stayed in rural Minnesota surrounded by people and places that are rather homogeneous.
Our two children were born in Mexico. They are Mexican-Peruvian-American. Also known as Latinx. My husband is Peruvian and left his country in pursuit of a better life - Just like so many of the young families, women, men and children have done so over the past years.
Mexico has welcomed us with open arms, given us a chance to create a life, a community and a home. People often ask us if we will move to the states someday, as if it's the "ultimate end-goal" or in pursuit of the "Great American Dream." But quite honestly, neither one of us feel any pull to move North.
Why would we want to move to a country in which discrimination abounds so readily? In which we may fear my husband's life as he is Afro-Peruvian and could be easily misunderstood if he gets pulled over by the cops? A country in which our kids hear the current president say horrible things about Mexico, the country they were born in? A country in which people are convinced that a wall between our land and theirs is the answer to illegal immigration? A country in which policies and pocketbooks are more important than people?
No,we won't be moving back anytime soon. Living abroad is a gift. For so many reasons.
And gracias for accepting us as immigrants in your country. We are proud that our children are Mexican and that our family has made a home in this beautiful land.