Category — culture

Guest post about Lateens

guest post by Laura Elena Morales Garza

My name is Laura Elena and I’m a psychologist and an English teacher, with a Master’s Degree on Linguistics in English. I started teaching at 17 and have been doing so for the last 30 years. I’ve taught ESL in all levels, from elementary school through University, and from beginners – advanced. For the last 13 years I’ve been teaching at a private university in Mexico, and have been in charge of the language department for the last 5. I’m currently teaching the advanced level and my main focus is to have students become proficient in the use of the language; most of my students have  had contact with English since they were toddlers, and have studied in bilingual schools, or private schools where ESL is a very important part of the school curriculum.

As part of my Advanced English class I decided to use some of the material from brandlateen.com.  I selected 13 different entries, printed them out and gave a different one to each student. My students read them on their own and then we all sat down together to share and discuss each story.

My class is made up of 19 students with an Advanced English level, with a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of over 550 pts. They are all freshmen in a Private University, and most of them started learning ESL since they were 5 or 6 years old.

The whole activity took about 80 minutes and students shared and discussed personal experiences:

  • A girl had lived for some time in the USA and she had the experience of working as an interpreter for some government agency; among the things she had to do were to tell people they had lost their job, or that they were required to have certain papers in order for them to receive some service. She had to do this with people who spoke only Spanish, and she had to live difficult moments when these people asked her to help them and to tell her employer not to fire them or to ask for something. She said she couldn’t do all this, she only had to translate and she couldn’t help these people, making her have mixed feelings.
  • Several  students have had the experience of helping their parents when they have gone to the States as the parents don’t speak English and they do; so they’ve been translators several times and under different circumstances. One of the boys has not only been a translator when traveling, but he’s had to help with the business; his father has  a franchise from an international company, and he’s had to help with contracts and business issues. He feels the pressure, as a  lot depends on his performance, and not only the written papers, but also on the interviews and phone calls he constantly has to make.
  •  The students mentioned how they identify with the description of Lateens depicted in several stories, even though they are Mexicans living in Mexico, they feel they have the same roots, share cultural experiences and family stories.
  •  About homosexuality they feel that it’s a big taboo in our society, so they concluded that it must be really difficult for a lateen to accept his/her homosexuality. Mixed feelings, which are normal in these cases, become even stronger when lateens are living in an “open” society, but in a very narrow-minded culture at home.
  •  When talking about reading students reported how little they read! It is a big problem in our country, and students are used to reading only when it is mandatory for school – several of them even reported that the only reading they have done this semester are the two books that are mandatory for my subject!  I asked them if they were read to when they were children, and only 3 or 4 students remembered being read to before going to bed.  We have a Chinese exchange student girl in this class and she had never had this experience, she even had trouble understanding what I meant, but then she grasped the idea and was happy to report that her grandmother always told her stories before going to bed – reading to children is not part of her culture, but telling stories is, and it normally is done by elders.
  •  There were a lot of comments on how Hispanics will be taking over a few years from now, as long as they become aware of the power they can have should they decide to continue studying. Given the large number of Hispanics living in the US, education and unity can make the difference.

All in all the activity proved to be very productive, not only because students were able to practice their English, but because through a meaningful experience they were able to analyze and discuss current problems that we sometimes don’t know about. We normally look at immigration problems related to deportation or jobs our migrants may obtain. Brandlateen blog gave us an insight into everyday situations, and it gave us an opportunity to reflect and analyze our own life.

After class, and to round up the activity, the students were asked to go into the web page and give feedback to either the entry they had read in class, or to a different one. It was very satisfactory to learn that most of them read some more of the entries and gave feedback to a different one from the one they had originally read.

March 26, 2011   3 Comments

Niños Californianos: A New Face For California Youth

Last week, early census numbers revealed that more than half of the children in California are Latino.  The country’s most populous state is the first to follow the forecasts of Hispanics overtaking whites as the largest minority.  If you’d like to read a little more about this new statistic, check it out here.

This confirms that Hispanics are indeed the face of California’s future (as if we didn’t already know).  A state like California, rich in culture, and the once main destination for many Americans, is yet again in a state of flux.  Only this time, it is facing a different challenge.  Regardless of what the numbers say, this reality is a tough one for many people to swallow.  California is the setting for a bulk of Hispanic history in America, so this news seems very fitting, especially for the time.  And considering the state’s political landscape, changes like these are more welcomed than they are in other regions of the country.  But California will not be the only state where Hispanics take the lead for long.  So any local or state initiatives that affect Hispanics will serve as a model for other states soon to follow the trend.

The most important initiative must be education.  With most children in Cali now being Latino, efforts to revitalize and sustain quality education, maintain schools, and recruit and retain well-qualified teachers can no longer be segmented.  When you live in a state where most of your children are Hispanic, and when Hispanics are more likely to drop out of school than any other group, reaching them is not an option and should not be taken lightly.

In our work with the local Hispanic high schools, we have met so many promising students with the will and the wit to not only get into college, but excel in college.  Young Hispanics in America stand out.  Many times their focus is on the wrong thing, but under no circumstances does this mean they’re not smart.  They’re born with a common sense many adults don’t even possess, and whether it’s through their own experiences, or witnessing their parents’ drive, they understand hard work.  If California is going to continue serving as a pillar of this nation, the state’s leaders much begin connecting with its children now.  And although education needs to remain the focus, merely getting to know them, and learning to understand how they think must be achieved as well.  And it needs to happen now.  I read a distasteful article the other day published by Tulsa World titled “Hispanic Population Growing; we must deal with it.”  Granted, even though the home of many Indian reservations, Oklahoma isn’t exactly considered famous for its embracement of diversity.  But this article was published less than a month ago, and proves that if the kids in California are already mostly Hispanic, then the rest of the country still has quite a ways to go.

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March 15, 2011   1 Comment

Latino Teens & Young Adults Garner Attention from Industry

Change is inevitable and while we don’t know what the future holds, there are certain things that cannot be ignored.  This country has always been destined for change as different waves of immigrants have redefined what it is to be “American.”  Again, we face a similar movement with this generation of multicultural young adults, led by Hispanic growth. It continues to move this nation in a new direction and the industry is taking note.

Jacqueline Hernandez, Chief Operating Officer, Telemundo, Communications Group, Inc. states that in next 40 years the U.S. population will expand by one hundred million people fueled primarily by US Hispanics.

Based on the currently reality, Telemundo understanding the potential of this audience, conducted a study that analyzes the State of Young Latino Americans (YLA’s), defined as 18-34 year olds, whose country of origin is in Latin America and who live in the U.S.   They are not the only ones that are making this push to further understand one of the fastest growing and increasingly important segments of the population.  Marketers such as McDonald’s, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Adidas, Apple and Motorola understand that these consumers will determine the future success of their brand.

Key highlights from the study include:

YLAS are highly maintaining their culture and heritage while still embracing their American Lifestyle.

YLAS love being bi-cultural. More than one third (37%) of YLAS self-identified themselves as both Hispanic and American, identifying with both cultures equally the same. At the other end of the spectrum, only 2% felt more American than Hispanic. YLAS are in the midst of a retro-acculturation explosion. Because of the YLAS strong pride in their homeland and country of origin, this generation is re-discovering their heritage and is experiencing a Latino re-awakening. YLAS are going from “George” to “Jorge.”

For YLAS it is easy to toggle in and out of both the Hispanic and American cultures.

YLAS live in a cultural fluid environment. YLAS best describe their closest group of friends an EQUAL mix of Latino and American, in fact, 48% ‘hung out’ with this group of people. In this continuum, YLAS were least likely to have only non-Latino friends, representing only 2% of those surveyed.

YLAS have no language boundaries or barriers.

YLAS language mobility greatly depends on the place or situation they are in – they are chameleons in their space – they control it and they like it! At home, where the TVs are on, and with family – a larger percent choose to speak Spanish (39% at home, 55% with family); while at work (74%) and school (79%) the preference was English. Last but not least, among their friends, YLAs practice a mix of Spanglish.

YLAS are the always-connected generation.

YLAS are multi-taskers. YLAS are always consuming high levels of anything technological: 94% have access to the Internet at home; 84% Have high-speed internet; and 87% stream video content, with another 73% that listen to music on the internet. Laptop ownership has taken precedence over desktop, with 73% that own a PC or a Mac.

With a huge strength in mobile usage, a high percent (87%) of YLAS cannot live without it. YLAS are great multi-taskers as many of the activities they focus on are also centered among an online environment. While a majority they told us they eat while watching television (80%), they also text (61%), talk on the phone (60%) and surf the web (50%).

As the market continues to evolve, more and more brands will come to realize the buying power and influence of this next Latino generation.

Sources: http://www.portada-online.com/article.aspx?aid=7573, Telemundo State of Young Latino Americans (YLA’s) Study

March 10, 2011   5 Comments

Adios 2010

It’s been a little while.  First of all, Happy 2011!  Brand Lateen has been up and running for almost a full year, and we’re excited to see what this year has in store for us.  As we gear up for yet another year of discoveries about our evolving young Latino consumer, let’s first bid a proper despedida to 2010.

I’ll start with an update on how our program at W.H. Adamson High School finished out.  Our four classes did a wonderful job, and we saw a positive change in attitude in many of the students.  From having little to no interest in advertising, and very limited knowledge of the field, a lot of the students had done a complete 180 by the last day of the program.  As they came closer to a finished product, enthusiasm we had not seen prior began to emerge from many of them.

We ended it all with a day at the agency and then each class presented their campaigns to a board of judges.  The judges chose the Boost Mobile campaign as the winner based on how well-thought out and consistent it was throughout.  Their presentation had the least hiccups of any of the groups, and they kept their audience engaged and informed.  Their creative was very in touch with the brand, and much of the artwork done for the project was outstanding.  Each person in the Boost Mobile group was awarded a $10 gift certificate to Target, a free extra value meal and a free hot chocolate from McDonald’s.

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January 3, 2011   1 Comment

Some Hip-Hop

What is hip-hop to you?

Is it black?  Is it white?  Is it brown?  Is it rich?  Is it poor?  East coast?  West coast?  South side?  Is it Snoop and Dre, or is it Tribe and WU?  Is it bling and success?  Or is it struggle and pain?  Can we still hear it today?  Or de we have to go back a few years…or even decades?

If the above doesn’t really make any sense, I’ll try to explain.  For BrandLateen purposes, the important thing to know is that true Hip-Hop is the one music that tells the intricate stories of unpredictable inner-city life.  Samples from jazz and blues rhythms, mixed with heavy beats and harsh lyrics, the music has experience rapid evolution since its inception almost 40 years ago.  Most Hip-Hop artists are black, and the majority of songs are written from an African-American cultural perspective.  A handful of black artists and fanatics will argue that musicians of other races robbed the black culture of one of its creations.  That’s a radical argument considering it’s a music that originally sprung from a passion for exaggerated, emotional expression (like most music, arguably).  But the real students of Hip-Hop understand that it’s an art form that bridges and transcends cultures.  After all, inner-city life is a culture in itself, infused in all of its inhabitants, regardless of background.

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September 10, 2010   1 Comment

My Technological World

The following serves as a supplement to the previous entry, “MySpace vs. Facebook.”  Please note that this is a personal recount of a single Lateen’s experience.

It’s no secret that technology is known to make things easier. It’s known to make things work faster without the same physical effort. It’s also known that my generation takes adavantage of technology and uses it constantly. My generation is different, my generation is who will make a better tomorrow for everyone else.

At school, at work, and at home I am involved in so many different activities, from academic clubs, sport teams to volunteer services. I can honestly say that nothing would be possible without my cell phone and laptop. After a while of being so involved, I have learned to network and meet new people. I’ve learned that unfortunately, the truth is most of the time it’s not who you are, it’s who you know. This brings me to my experience with technology and how my friends and I use it.

I recently created an account on Facebook. I already had a MySpace page, but joining Facebook was a necessary thing to do because all the “older” important contacts I have made along the way only have a Facebook page. Personally, I think they think it’s professional. Throughout history, the human species has transformed constantly to meet its enviroment in an effort to survive. Clearly now people are not adapting to eating wild berries like cavemen did long ago, but people are still adapting. For example just a few years ago, friends exchanged beeper numbers.  Now, not only can you contact someone with the click of a button, but with a few more clicks, you can see documentation of their personal lives.

As I’ve said before I attend W.H Adamson High School. My school is roughly 95 percent Hispanic. It’s a small school with about 1,000 students total. Since it’s so small and mostly made up of people from the neighborhood many of us know each other very well. I was recently elected Senior Class President and to be honest there is a lot to the job. That said, I love it because I love being a leader, but a leader is no one if he or she has no followers. So when I have an idea, I like to get feedback from everyone before I make a decision. This makes others happy, and contacting all students would be hard, but now, in 2010, it’s quite easy. I communicate with my friends through mass text messages, and in turn they continue to forward them to anyone who might be interested. I can also chat with them on MySpace or send an event invitation on Facebook. All this technology makes it easier to inform everyone or make new plans simultaneously. [Read more →]

August 13, 2010   No Comments

Myspace vs. Facebook

What is Myspace? To many it’s a way to stay connected with current friends.  For others it’s a way to find friends who they have not seen in a while. Some people use it as a way to make new friends or flirt with someone they’ve never met. While Myspace users use the site to listen to music, write blogs or to upload videos, the truth is that Myspace is just a simple way to have fun while you network.  Having a Myspace page isn’t the easiest thing to do either. When you create an account, you have activated a profile. A profile that millions of people around the world can see and read. There is this belief that Myspace is for teens and Facebook for adults, and to be quite honest I agree.

I have a Myspace page, and I have to admit that it can sometimes be tough keeping up with a profile. The music you put on your profile is usually related to the mood you happen to be in. For example, many who appear to be in love have songs relating to passion, or those who are heartbroken play songs that show how their heart burns when they think of that certain someone. Believe it or not, when someone chooses a song, there is a lot of thought that goes into it. The beat of the song can label you with your friends too, making you cool or just a weirdo.  Myspace is merely another way teens express themselves, and many use it as a tool to attract more “friends” and gain popularity.

I noticed a lot of the things that go on in Myspace are childish and can potentially be very dangerous. There are many young girls out there exposing themselves a little too much to in an effort to catch guys’ attention, or even guys taking pictures of themselves showing their abs wearing only a towel. Although at times it’s funny to see pictures where they are half naked or just showing “booty,” it does not make it right. On Myspace there is SO much unnecessary drama. You have people threatening each other, you have people updating their life via their status…which in my opinion is ridiculous. It’s sad that things like this take Myspace beyond being just a chatting site. They turn it into free access for molesters to peruse for victims, or for others to bully and harass people. So now that I feel a bit more mature and feel that Myspace is no longer for me, I decided to move to Facebook. [Read more →]

August 10, 2010   1 Comment

Lateen Workers

The following entry serves as a second part to the previous entry, “A Lateen in a Latin Country.”

I think anyone with a good set of eyes can tell blue apart from red, yellow from green and white from brown. In my short week at Costa Rica it was obvious to many of the locals that I was different from the majority of the other Americans I was traveling with. Not just because of my personality, but because of the color of my skin. Although the group I was with did an awesome job, the locals of Parismina asked so many questions about what they do at home because, as they insisted, it seemed like they had never worked a day in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great group of people and all of the tasks we took charge of, we finished together. I really don’t think there is a group with more heart. But as I interacted with some of my new friends from places like Canada and Colorado, I was shocked by a turn in the conversation.

“Adan, you are a very motivated and ambitious guy,” one said. I smiled and said “I just want a better life for myself and my parents.” She smiled and responded “I wish that I had a reason to push myself more, or at least to be hungry for something better.” This struck me, and very curious, I had to ask, “Why?”

“Everything has been handed to me all my life. I really do not know the meaning of hard work besides school work.” We both laughed, but I can’t manage to forget her words. I know I cannot speak in generalities, but I came to the conclusion that many other non-ethnic groups really don’t know the meaning of working hard to survive in this greedy world, or at least in the United States of America. [Read more →]

August 5, 2010   No Comments

A Lateen in a Latin Country.

Visiting another house isn’t always the easiest or most comfortable thing to do. Now, in case you haven’t already, imagine visiting a country. Meeting new people can be challenging, so think about meeting over 100 individuals and living in the same space with them for over 300 hours. Sounds scary I know, but I can honestly say that my recent experience in Costa Rica was one that made me grow into a better person.

It all started Friday, July 16 at 4 in the morning, maybe even earlier since I couldn’t fall asleep due to excitement. I got up, looked around my room, and noticed my blue backpack, a small luggage bag full to the brim, my money next to my passport, and my ID. Before I knew it I was hugging my dad and saying my goodbye.

Shortly after, I got a hug myself, but it was actually just the security guard wrapping his arms around me as he searched me (a little too slowly I might add) at the DFW Airport. First stop: Houston. I felt like we arrived there as soon as I closed my eyes. I continued to absorb my surroundings. And all of a sudden it hit me – I was all on my own. After a couple of hours I was finally walking onto the next plane. I made sure I had both of my cameras and my cell phone. I knew the island wasn’t going to have signal for my mobile, but I carried it to listen to music. Hours after I buckled up, the plane’s captain made two announcements: First, to be courteous to the people next to you. Second, to enjoy the first view of the Costa Rican coast. [Read more →]

August 4, 2010   1 Comment

Little Adults

When I was in, let’s say, the third grade, one of the most fun things I got to do was help my very Mexican grandmother pay bills.  She moved to the U.S. from Puebla to be close to us, and as a result, it turned out that she also took on a serious amount of cooking responsibilities.  Anyway, when the first and middle of the month came around, my dad would take me to her apartment (about 2 minutes from our house) to visit, and do chores that to this day I feel they completely made up.  Part of the task was to help Abuelita look after her finances.  Small apartment, so there was rent.  Utilities consisted of electric, water, and trash.  Cable wasn’t important so she didn’t have it.  Mi abuela, Vicenta, never bothered to learn even the slightest bit of English, therefore, the mail she didn’t toss consisted of bills.  My dad thought it would be a nice gesture for me to help her make the payments, not so much because he thought he was teaching me a vital duty, but probably more because two adults got a kick out of watching a 7-year-old write checks.  Either way, I learned how to write a check as a young kid.  Think about that playground banter.  “You beat me in a race?  Whatever.  I write checks!  Para mi abuela.  ¿QUÉ?”

That was me, then, different situation too.

Today, there are still plenty of young second generation Hispanics not only filling out checks, but translating medical conversations, city ordinances, legal documents, and a number of other adult-like tasks, trust me.  Most of the time, the young people who are in charge of these kinds of things tend to be older now.  But regardless of age, they’re often faced with important matters to resolve.  How do you think it must feel in between a doctor and your mother, when you have to translate the doctor’s bad news and serious concern regarding high blood pressure?  Once negative predictions and details are revealed, immediate worry may settle in fast.  How would you react to having to tell your parents that the house you’re renting is soon to be bulldozed to make way for new condominiums?  I know, these are extremes, but for immigrant families this is often an unkind reality.  As kids, it’s not their concern, and they’re not expected to do anything about it.  But as the interpreters, they know everything.  I’m not totally sure, but I think it’s safe to say that no matter your background or culture, you strive to shield your children from these types of malas notcias.

Most Lateens don’t get that guard though.  In many Hispanic families, the role of sole interpreter is always established.  It’ll usually be the oldest kid, and that child has an actual job.  It’s almost like a service.  I wouldn’t say they mature faster, but they do acquire this sort of skill set early, early on.  And when times get tough, they’re right in the heat of it.  It doesn’t necessarily make them smarter of savvier (well, maybe), but in a way it does rob them of their innocence and childhood.  Do you think this role exists in non-Hispanic families?  Highly unlikely.

So what do you think?  Advantage or disadvantage?  It’s a fine line.  Does possessing knowledge of adult burdens make you more mature?  I don’t know.  Nevertheless, Lateens today carry more weight than you think.  This might add some insight to the rough edges you notice once in a while.  The grownup persona could be there for more reasons than you imagine.

July 27, 2010   6 Comments