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Cultural Immersion: Interview With Latino in the US

Introduction

Understanding the culture of different communities is relevant given the fact that the world is increasingly becoming interconnected. For the first two phases of this project, I have been exploring the culture of Latino America. There are several aspects of their lifestyle which I have learned through interactive activities and research. This paper will provide the result of a personal dialogue with a Hispanic man focusing on his personal story, emotional response, legal and ethical concerns, multicultural sensitivity, and biblical beliefs. The one-hour interview allowed me to explore various topics that contribute to the identity formation of Latinos living in the United States.

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Interviewee Background

Event Attended

My visit to the Catholic Church allowed me to mingle with the Latino people. Moreover, I got the opportunity to make acquaintances with a few people. Thus, when the time for doing this part three of the project came, I had two individuals and a couple who would potentially be my subjects of the one-on-one dialogue. One of the people and the couple had busy schedules, which made it difficult to schedule a meeting lasting an hour. I was left with one option, a young gentleman whom I was yet to understand very well. However, he invited me over to join him and watch a football match, after which I could ask my questions.

On the scheduled day, I joined the interviewee who was in the company of five other young men. They were heading to a nearby pub where they would drink while seeing the soccer competition on the television. I joined them and observed how they walked close to each other and enjoyed their company. Most of their conversation was about work, their girlfriends, and life in general. There was no turn-taking in the conversation; one person will talk, another would say something funny, and they would all laugh and continue with their jokes; they did not talk about anything serious or emotional. As promised, the man excused himself from having the interview as his friends continued watching.

The Story

The interviewee is a 24 years old Latina man born in California to a Mexican American dad and an Asian American mother. Juan (pseudonym) just finished his college education and is currently working as a shopkeeper for a distant paternal relative. He is the firstborn son in a family of five children. Juan is now cohabiting with a Hispanic 20-year-old woman who is still in, college although his parents are not aware of the decision. He explained that the girl got pregnant for him, so he had to bear the responsibility.

Juan described his family as big and extended who is full of love and concern for each other. They live in the neighborhood with his paternal uncles and cousins. During school holidays, they would visit each other and even hold significant festivities such as birthday parties. His father has worked as a construction worker for more than thirty years since he immigrated to the United States. Juan said that her mother has worked in several places, mostly as a nanny or in restaurants. The parents worked hard to ensure that they had a decent living and went to school.

Although Juan’s parents made sure that they attended masses while growing up, he admitted that since he started college has not been consistent in Church. He was, however, quick to state that he has not departed from his Christian faith. Their primary language at home was Spanish, although he is also able to communicate in perfect English. Juan emphasized that he is proud of his Latino cultural heritage and has always been thrilled about telling people about their way of life.

Level of Interviewee’s Openness

Juan has an extroverted personality which makes him talk more even while with friends. However, I noticed that he was nervous at the beginning of the interview, as evidenced by the tapping of his feet and avoiding eye contact. I assured him of confidentiality and asked that he responds truthfully. From my judgment, Juan was not open when with some questions, especially those that were specific to his feelings and beliefs. For example, when I asked if he was currently living alone, he kept silent for some time and then said that he got a girl pregnant and had to stay with her for the time being. He did not want to add more information on that, which made me think that he was uncomfortable talking about it.

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Key Cultural Events

To start with, there are many cultural events that Juan has experienced, mostly involving Catholicism. For example, he narrated how they would celebrate Christmas with other community members and share with the poor. As stated by López-anuarbe et al. (2016), the Hispanic culture cultivates altruism because they believe that humans are more important than material possession. Next, on the eve of Christmas, the women will gather and prepare all kinds of Spanish delicacies as children made prayers to Santa Clause. The men would also gather, mostly in clubs, and come with presents. Then on holiday, they would attend mass early in the morning and then be back to celebrate the whole day until late at night. The extended family members would have time to celebrate, sing and dance together.

Next, Juan revealed that for young and middle-aged men, soccer is an important cultural heritage. Healy et al. (2017) show that co-curricular activities such as sports help form social identities. Juan, his male relatives, and friends would gather at their favorite club and follow through with the game process. According to the interviewee, this tradition has caused people to hold racist stereotypes against Latino. For example, one day, while heading back from the club, police stopped them and carried out a search thinking that they had cocaine or some other kind of hard drugs. Juan states that the common myth that the public holds is that they are addicts who thrive in selling illicit drugs.

Acculturation Level and Racial/Cultural Identity Development

The Latino Americans are easily identifiable due to their racial disparities from the Caucasians and the African Americans. Juan mentioned that everywhere he goes, at work, school, or church, people will always identify him as Hispanic and have some set of expectations for him, which are mainly prejudices. He loves his physical features and had no regrets about being born into his family. Moreover, he appreciated his Latina heritage with its reach and patriarchal traditions that keep families united. Nonetheless, he said that sometimes he feels bad because he is only judged as an immigrant, and people expect him to speak in fluent Spanish and conduct himself like a Hispanic. This is despite the fact that he is an American Citizen by birth. I was able to relate Juan’s experience with what Mandl (2019) states that the media representation has caused people to assume the cultural identities of the Latino based on stereotypical characteristics. Therefore, Juan has to strike a balance between showing himself both as a Latino and an American.

Emotional Response and New Learning

Personal Emotions during Interaction

During the interview, I connected well with this person because he was well-groomed and outgoing, which made the interview interesting. I was able to interact with him without any fear. I think that the fact that we are agemates also contributed to the high easiness that we felt around each other, with the exception of the first few minutes when we were both nervous. Moreover, I liked him because he talked honestly, and when he did not want to respond to a question, he would dismiss it using body language, which is typical for this cultural group (Hispanic Research Inc., 2021). For example, there are instances when he shrugged his shoulders or simply smiled. This made me appreciate the need for the Hispanics to be close when having conversations with each other.

New Lessons

There are many things that I learned about Hispanics during the interview. First, it was apparent from Juan’s story that the responsibility of different sexes was well defined in the Latino culture. At home, there were always gender roles not only among his parents but also among siblings. For example, her sisters would well their mother in the kitchen while he does other duties like fixing a bulb or broken cupboard. I also learned that this culture love people and are always willing to offer help to individuals in need. This is evident in Catholicism being one of the most altruistic religious groups. During Christian celebrations, such as Christmas, the people share what they have with the less fortunate. Last but not least, I learned that the Latino’s like to be allowed to have a chance of showing their true identity, rather than being surrounded by people with stereotypes who expect them to behave based on their prejudices.

Ethical and Legal Aspects to Consider

In part two of this project, I discussed several theories, including Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management cognitive behavioral therapy (CALM CBT). I think the CALM CBT technique would help in the first session of the interview when the client was feeling nervous and tapping his feet. However, I used other skills such as assuring him of confidentiality and unconditional positive regard to make the interviewee feel relaxed. There are ethical concerns that can emanate in multicultural counseling. According to the Family Institute at Northwestern University (2016), psychologists are required to have a professional responsibility to enhance privacy, protect clients from harm and be under supervision.

The legal aspects that the therapist must consider include having the license, registration, and academic credentials for practice. In the case of multicultural clients, the counselor must ensure that they do not use provocative or racially aggravated words. Notably, mental health specialists can be sued in a court of law for defamation and prejudice. The implication is that practitioners must be competent in multicultural mental health assessment to avoid legal implications.

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Multicultural Sensitivity and Biblical Worldview Reflection

Group Characteristics and Multicultural Sensitivity

The first part of this project revealed that Hispanics are often prejudiced as immigrants and have a rich culture with many celebrations and happy moments. Moreover, they have a strong patriarchal family structure and feed nutritious meals, which makes them have a high life expectancy. As a professional psychologist, when working with a client with a Latino background, I have learned that I should appreciate their good traditions and not be prejudiced against them. For example, I should be able to accommodate a Hispanic who pulls his chair to be closer to me during counseling. Additionally, knowing their family dynamics will help when doing family therapy.

Biblical Worldview

There is two primary common grace which is operating in this group which can be an inspiration to other ethnic groups. First, there is the family tradition of holding celebrations together, remaining intact, and eating healthy food. The implication is that they have a long life and see many of their younger generations. Next is the grace to love and give, as indicated by their altruistic behavior. This ensures that there is no person among them who remains in lack because they share. The prayers that Christians should make are to help them overcome the prejudice and issues related to immigration so that they can have peace of mind.

Conclusion

The multicultural project was an enjoyable assignment that allowed me to interact with the Latino and learn about their way of life. Particularly, in this part one, the interview that I had with Juan was very informative on some of the aspects that I had not covered in previous research. The Latinos are great people with a rich culture and strong religious background in the Catholic church. With this knowledge, I believe that I am now more competent to work with individuals from this minority group. Moreover, I intend to pray for them and raise awareness to others to appreciate the traditions of Hispanics and stop holding prejudices against them.

References

Healy, M. E., Hill, D., Berwick, M., Edgar, H., Gross, J., & Hunley, K. (2017). Social-group identity and population substructure in admixed populations in New Mexico and Latin America. PLoS One, 12(10).

Hispanic Research Inc. (2021). Non-verbal Latino communication & social networking. GreenBook: Find Market Research Companies and Focus Group Facilities.

López-anuarbe, M., Cruz-saco, M., & Park, Y. (2016). More than Altruism: Cultural Norms and Remittances Among Hispanics in the USA. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17(2), 539-567.

Mandl, L. A. (2019). Latino/a families are like…: Constructing immigrant Latino/a identities and family relations in US popular culture. Textbook Publisher.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University. (2016). American Counseling Association code of ethics

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