Friday, February 15, 2008

From Mexico, Part 2

OK, it's been a little crazy. The electricity went out in the Internet closet (twice) and then when I was connected in DFW (great wireless connection), my gate got changed twice so I spent the whole layover running from Terminal C to Terminal D and back to Terminal C, and then to Terminal D again. Fun.

To continue.

Roberto ran away from the abusive uncle and ended up helping package drugs and selling pornography on the street . Somehow, Sara (the orphanage director) found out about this 10-year old kid and brought him back to the orphanage. He started first grade at age 10 and, although school has never been easy for him, worked as hard as he could and consistently got excellent grades. He made it through primary and secondary school, graduated from high school (the picture in the pink shirt) and is now attending a technical college. He wanted to work in addition to help pay his way (he's now 22), so got a job as a mechanic's assistant. Within three weeks, his work was so good that he was promoted twice. Now he is getting up every day at 5 am, working all morning and early afternoon, then going to school all during the late afternoon and evening, getting home at 11 pm.

Roberto asked me two very good questions while I was there:

1. Why are Americans so upset about us coming over the border when they come over here all the time to buy drugs/medications/go on vacation/find prostitutes?

2. Why do Americans consider Mexicans lazy?

The second question is the most perplexing. I really don't know the answer. Possibly because Americans think that Mexicans take siestas (They don't. That's Spain. Different continent). Possibly because Mexicans value people over schedules? However, as Roberto pointed out, it is extremely hard to find an American who is willing to work as hard as a Mexican - if, of course, you were speaking in blanket generalizations. American youth groups often come to work at the orphanage and - in between the heat and the physical labor - most of them poop out after about 30 minutes. The (younger) Mexican kids work the whole day, stopping only for lunch. And yet, I have STILL heard people talk about "Well, if only they worked harder... if only they worked all day... if they had a better work ethic... if they just applied themselves." And then of course, there's the old, "They're taking our jobs."

Really? Are you wanting to pick fruit for 14 hours for less than minimum wage? Because if not, please spare me that argument. If anyone would like to have a respectful conversation about how to deal with illegal immigration, I'm all for that. But the way most of the arguments go, talking about walls and illegals and saving jobs for Americans and denying children education... sorry. Go to Mexico for a week and see how respectfully you are treated - every time I have attempted to speak Spanish, no matter how much I mess up, my efforts are honored - how people go out of their way to be hospitable, about how much they struggle... then have a conversation with me.

Here's Roberto, graduating from high school against all odds...

The blog might have a Mexican theme for a little while since it's on my mind... I'll get back to American education soon!


Erin said...

I have never known a lazy Mexican, but I know that whenever I go to a government office like the DMV, there are many of them around. Now, I know why this is, and it doesn't relate to laziness at all, but other people may come to a different conclusion seeing them there. And middle class Americans see people on welfare, of which there are a few of Mexican heritage, as lazy. It's very easy to say those kinds of things, especially if you only see it from a distance. I'd say it's mostly ignorance (and, perhaps ironically, laziness about finding out more) that makes people say that about Mexicans--or any group, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Roberto.
This is one American who is proud of his hard work.