Post Number: 126
|Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 9:25 am: |
This question comes from my questions about Cafayete. But there is so much information here now that I am conscientiously trying to put questions under the correct headings. This is probably an Argentina culture question.
In the past I was involved in providing services to disadvantaged in Billings, Montana. Primarily a "rescue mission" that provided clothing and meals to any person or family that needs a hand--and even a place to stay for a while in a crisis (winter at 30 below is a "crisis!"). They also had a separate place for battered women. The goal is to help families to be self-sufficient but to provide what they need while they work toward that goal. Even provided counseling and help with securing employment. It was a pretty well-balanced program and I think that program alone makes a big difference for the very poor areas of Billings. Some people don't want that but you do it for all because there are some who do and you hope to make a difference in their lives.
In Bariloche, I became friendly with a woman named Juanita and asked her if there was anything like that locally that I could give time to. Even if it was just a soup kitchen that needed help.
She said that there was but that I would be resented and should not attempt to go there. She said people would not be confrontational but that is the attitude and she suggested that folding bandages at the hospital would be more appropriate for me. She said that the people I was talking about in Argentina would have the attitude that I am there just to laugh at them. She told me that these people have a huge population in the north, are less abundant in Bariloche, but they are there.
I consider people with the attitude she described to be intellectually challenged. If the majority are of the victim mindset, I would not enjoy living in the area. There are people in Bariloche with other strange ideas. They think that there are "little people" who live in the woods and in their houses, who hide things and move them around (giggle-giggle I think I have a few of those in my house!). There are replicas of those little people for sale in the shops.
I consider that "intellectually challenged" as well. I would not want to live where a large percentage of the population is of that mindset. Although they are present in Bariloche, most of the people I knew there were progressive business people who were actually from Buenos Aires or Cordoba, etc. So I am not a good judge, even though I have some experience there.
Post Number: 21
|Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 10:15 am: |
Wow.."intellectually challenged". Is english your first lanaguage? Do you know what the implications of calling someone intellectually challenged are...you are talking brain damaged or of inferior genetic material. I wouldnt throw that phrase around when describing someone trying to discourage you of participating in a charity activity or someone who has alpine fairies in their house.
I think your encounter with Juanita was not the norm. There are many NGO's all over Argentina that depend on $$ and on the ground assistance from anyone who wants to help and much of that assistance comes from expats, visiting foreigners etc... Maybe she was picking up your vibe that you thought these people were "intellectually challenged"
Post Number: 1456
|Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 1:05 pm: |
Actually Elina,... she used a proper phrase that has no derogatory (or attempts to) meaning when describing such situation. I have learned in the US that there is great sensitivity to the use of words and the people (reflected in its authorities) go to great lengths to find words that would remove anything that would be deemed as an insult (obese or large for fat, african-american for black, height challenged for short, etc).
If anything, Arial tried to bring up a matter of personal interest to discuss with us and has excercised great caution. I also want to thank her for placing an effort in finding the proper heading for this thread as it makes the forum more useful to others.
Arial, I now understand your inquiry about Cafayate. In order to really nail this issue we should be able to know exactly what kind of people Juanita was talking about... I kind of have an idea so my comment would be that discussing this involves the type of honesty that may offend others as it requires handling social issues in a straightforward manner.
I have never heard the story of "little people" in Bariloche but it sounds somewhat funny. On the other hand, I have seen in the past poorer people not acknowledging or being grateful of ones efforts or even confusing ones motives. Given what Juanita said that there are greater numbers of them living in the north I can only conclude that they have roots with either natives or immigrants from some of the bordering countries ex-Brazil. You will not see any discussions about it anywhere and you will not find books (at least not many) about the subject. Furthermore, nobody will refer to this issue as a problem of integration and in some cases it will spark furious responses.
I really can't personalize the issue of resentment as it is a universal feeling that happens when one feels inferior. And I am making a point here. If there are greater numbers of them in the north, then, this is their natural habitat. Whereas those who may have moved south to Buenos Aires or even Bariloche looking for opportunities may have only put themselves in a far worse situation by now being a fish-out-of-the-water, thus feeling inferior. In this case, I can see their resentfulness whether hidden or in the open.
I have only visited Cafayate once and cannot tell what the social mix is or whether there is a good number of rich families that are locals or are 'portenos' who have moved north or both. I would imagine that Cafayate is somewhat prosperous but that it indeed has plenty more people who you would recognize as having roots with original natives or ties to immigrants. What I cannot say either is whether they will bear the same attitude when being helped as the one described by Juanita. I would say "no", but the only way to really know is to talk to locals or make an extended trip. The people my mother encountered in Jujuy were only grateful. But then again, they were mostly kids or students.
Aside from the above, Argentina does have severe social issues that are never discussed, never confronted valiantly like in the US and there is a good number of racial problems including religious ones as I can testify first-hand when I was given the hardest time during military service (mandatory at the time) because of my jewish heritage. Some military personnel never bother to learn wether I am a real one or just carry the name, the nicest thing they said was that I had the triple 6 written on my forehead. And it was common to hear one of them saying 'haga patria mate un judio' when I was walking by.
Argentines -and I am one- secretly and sometimes not so secretly, discriminate. Just like not being a roman during the times of the empire, not being a direct/indirect descendant of a european (or anglosaxon by the case) would throw a shadow to your reputation. So what is really more difficult to assess is whether the source of resentment has been actually generated by us.
(Message edited by admin on January 20, 2008)
Post Number: 22
|Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 4:39 pm: |
Calling someone stupid because they dont want your help. Sorry your eloquent defense of Aerial's post doesn't do it for me. I am aware of the hyper-political correctness that exisits in the US, but this is different. Someone judges another person's intellectual capabilities because they are uncomfortable with the kind of help you are offering??? Think about the history, think about their different (not necessarily poorer) quality of life. Maybe they dont want your help because they dont think they need it.
There is a myriad of opportunities to help people here in Argentina, it just might not be on your terms, but that is what real charity is about.
Post Number: 1457
|Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 7:08 pm: |
In this forum I seek moderation that may help with the longevity of the medium. I also try to keep discussions focused as much as possible.
As I understand it, she inquired about people's reactions when offered help having specifically Cafayate in mind. She also expanded the concept of being intellectually challenged to 'if the majority are of the victim mindset'. I may agree or disagree whether they play victims, not take responsibility for their well-being or just feel they do not need anyone's help. I may also agree or disagree whether people like this are idiots or perfectly happy individuals that feel nothing needs to be changed. But I refuse to open judgment on her judgments. If she likes to consider people behaving this way as dumb, I realize this is just an opinion.
Mine is that perhaps she was projecting her experience in Billings were she was apparently dealing with locals who had been less fortunate in life but still wanted to get ahead. That -as you suggested (history, habits)- may not be the case for the non-locals in Bariloche and still open for debate would be the outcome of helping in poor areas around Cafayate. Dealing with this may require an expanded understanding of the 'who' in each place.
But this thread wasn't exactly about whether the 'Juanita' bunch were really unintelligent or not. Since Arial already formed her opinion, she just wanted to know if she would face a similar situation up north and my point was that we just don't know. My guess was that they may be more receptive. In Arial's mind this may mean... more intelligent.
Elina, this maybe a good thread to know which areas of Argentina with population over 10,000 and less than 50,000 would be good places to live where locals would be happy to receive help and be offered opportunities for bettering themselves.
(Message edited by admin on January 20, 2008)
Post Number: 127
|Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008 - 8:47 am: |
Roberto, I agree with you. The story about the "little people" is funny. It was a surprise to me when I first heard that! Interesting also is this: I first heard of that belief among the old Irish.
Sometimes I wonder how those things made it across the "pond." Same with the "high places" in some parts of Latin America that were constructed in connection with their belief in greeting the sun (maybe even sun worship) just as it was in the Middle East. From who knows how many years ago, it was in both parts of the world. It is evident from the ruins we see in Guatemala, for example. And in other parts of Latin America, as well as in the old writings from Babylon and that part of the world, including the Bible.
What an interesting world we live in! And how many mysteries there are that make it even more so!
Gloria Melgar Estevez
Post Number: 31
|Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008 - 8:05 pm: |
Elina, I interpreted Arial's use of "intellectually challenged" as being less educated, as oppose of your suggestion of being "brain damaged", or "inferior genetics". I think that you may have been a bit harsh asking her if English is her first language. I find Arial's quest for pursuing altruism a great aspiration and that her motivation was to ask "Argentines" to guide her in cultural attitudes.
Arial, I all I can offer is my experience of helping with the Tobas Indian in my city of Rosario. I have a good friend that did Bible studies with Tobas families and also helped them with basic necessities. My mother and I have helped by bringing them clothes, bedding, etc. from the states. My experience was very gratifying and I felt the people I encountered in no way envied me. To this day, I have a close friendship with a young man who I helped for two years(he came to the states to work).
Post Number: 128
|Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008 - 9:33 pm: |
Thanks Roberta and Gloria. You're both really helpful. Thanks for the info about your experiences in Rosario, Gloria. That also is helpful.
I hope to make a decision on this trip so that I can start hauling stuff down and sending things with my family when they go. So I'm trying to plan carefully this time. It's been two years since the Bariloche apartment was sold so it's time to make a decision. Really do appreciate you. Thanks again. Arial
Post Number: 12
|Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - 4:23 am: |
i have never heard of the "little people" story from Argentina, but I know that it is commonly believed in Philippines. Perhaps it is something the Spanish introduced.
Post Number: 4
|Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008 - 2:38 pm: |
Rather than intellectually challenged, perhaps the people Arial met or heard of have a sense of pride and resent outsiders coming in and attempting to "fix" their problems. It's nice that posters are giving her the benefit of the doubt, but I have to say her condescending post smacks of Ugly Americanism. Adding the "little people" story, which is out of context, just adds to it.
What I found, while searching for NGO volunteer opportunities, is that what need really exists is money or specific and hard-come-by skills (doctors, nurses, etc.), not white people showing up to show brown people how to live. It's a great thing to give your time and money to causes, but thinking that you can feed or care for another country better than they can care for themselves is insensitive at best and racist at worst.
Post Number: 1
|Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008 - 3:19 pm: |
Holy Moly, I think we can see who the racist is. I don't usually involve myself in conversations like this, but I am appalled at what I just read by Anna Nymus, and I am not caucasian. She managed to insult and alienate not only Arial, but Caucasians, Americans, good samaritans in general, and anybody with a sense of right and wrong. Nobody is perfect, but Arial is obviously a normal person who is dedicated to doing some good in this world. And that is a rare quality.
What Anna said goes against conventional wisdom. It is easy to throw money at the problem, but not many people dedicate precious TIME and EFFORT to helping. Enforcing the notion that one should only accept help from someone of their own kind, or risk diminishing their own self esteem is prideful and racist in itself. But true, if someone is too prideful to recognize or accept help from a well-meaning individual, then they may not deserve the help.
Besides, "intellectually challenged" does not equal "mentally challenged", which is the term a lot of people seem to be confusing it with. "Mentally challenged" is the term that is commonly used for people with mental retardation or that some people use to refer to people they think are stupid. "Intellectually challenged" is a tongue-in-cheek term people use in intellectual conversations all the time to convey that the other side's opinion does not make logical sense to them. Words themselves are easy to get worked up over and act self-righteous about. But if people look past the words to the actions and true intent of the person who said them and politely let them know that the way the person said it may seem offensive on the face, a whole lot of confrontation would be avoided. This world needs to reward positivity as much as possible, not contribute to negativity in search of it. I'll bet just about everyone who read that post was left with a truly negative feeling afterward.
For God's sake, I believe someone needs to take a look at what was just submitted, and ask herself if it seems jealous, bitter, and hurtful.
Post Number: 23
|Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008 - 4:24 pm: |
Perrorosa, have to disagree. As I did in my first post that basically agrees with Anna.
Ariel, while I am assuming is a perfectly nice person, I felt she used some unfortunate language that led me to believe that she lacked some cultural understanding of who she was talking to.
You indicate that we are confusing intellectually challenged and mentally challenged. First, I would argue it is unwise to use "tongue and cheek" connotations to make your argument in a email, let alone when talking about people that are culturally different than you. It maybe one thing sitting around the table with people you know and tossing it out to be witty. I don't think that was Ariel's intention here. So you have to look at what words means, when there is little context. The definition has nothing do with being educated, intellect has to do with rational thought. So am afraid in the context of this discussion, words to mean something, they have to, that is all there is. I read what Ariel thought and it made me cringe because she came across and judgmental and naive.
I think you miss the point of what Anna and I are saying. Is it possible these people don't need our help? What you and I require on a daily basis shouldn't be projected on to them. I have worked tons with Mapuche in Rio Negro and Neuquen. These locals can be suspicious that our help comes with strings. You have to be respectful and when they say no thank you, you dont presume that they are "intellectually challenged."
And finally, I am not sure how what Anna wrote could be construed as racist??? And why are you so angry?
Post Number: 5
|Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - 3:17 am: |
To clarify - I'm not disregarding the value of helping people less fortunate than ourselves in whatever way we can. International volunteers are to be commended, whether they're giving time or money to good causes. I offered my opinion that poverty-stricken countries with high unemployment probably have plenty of manpower to do jobs like working at a soup kitchen, and that might be why locals might not be more welcoming to Ariel's offer of help because they might just not need it.
No matter how you spin it, calling someone "intellectually challenged" is insulting and demeaning. Whether she meant ignorant or stupid, it's negative and no connotation will convince me that anyone defending Ariel would look kindly on being called that.
From Wikipedia, when discussing prejudice: "....Someone might believe a particular group possesses low levels of intelligence, but harbour no ill feelings toward that group."
Now, whether or not you're targeting Argentinians in general or a needy village in particular - calling a group of needy Argentinians intellectually challenged because someone told you they don't want your help is quite clearly prejudice.
Finally, I think anyone who travels to a foreign country to volunteer should look on the experience as a learning adventure and spend the time trying to understand and celebrate the mystery of the people and culture. Don't go with the attitude you're going to reshape it into the culture you left behind.
Post Number: 3
|Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 4:20 am: |
just do the right thing...to much talk....I f you feel like your not welcome than leave,,,,some people are just shy...but they can see in your eyes and action if your working from your heart.Big Al