When Cultures Mix: How Knowing Me Affected My Family

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Ernesto visiting Boston, 1998

Visiting my family in Central America has definitely influenced me over the years. I’ve copied many aspects of the Latin American culture and made them my own. From dance to dress I feel more at home here then I ever have. What is interesting to me is the effect I have had on my family in Central America. Just like I saw in El Salvador, they have taken on some of my American culture.

My bother Ernesto recently told me that his visits to America were some of the most influential experiences of his life. A couple months after we were first were reunited he came to stay with for a 6 weeks while he took english an class in Boston. He came back in 2003 and 2004 to spend the summer. During his trips he got to see what our family was like. He noticed that we were more organized and structured than his family back home. Looking for ways to improve his own life he started to copy us. Copying those ideas had a profound impact on him.

Ernesto, now 31, plays a very important roll in the family business and yesterday he became a proud father. This is not typical for people his age in Central America. Most of his class mates already have several kids are not nearly as organized or responsible as him. In this way he is much more North American. He credits some of his success to his visting with us and his interactions with me. He was able to use certain parts of our culture to improve his life in Central America.

Besides Ernesto you can see my influence on the family and our business. We are some of the most connected and technology advanced people in David, Panama. The business heavily uses an inventory and design database to stay organized. There are computers all over the place which are networked and enable better communication. We have broadband internet in both the house and office. My birth father often skypes family in El Salvador.

My presences and culture has also had some secondary effects. An employee here learned how to be more organized from my brother. He went from being slow and not know what to do to taking an important role in the business. My older sister Eva credits her much of her success in American companies to her knowledge of English, which she learned so she could talk with me.

It’s interesting to see how reuniting with my family has spread our respective cultures to each other. We have both been exposed to new ideas and different ways of thinking. From these differences we have improved our lives and ourselves. I wish more people were brave enough step outside of their confort zone and experience new cultures and ideas.

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