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Published: January 13th 2020
As this is my third day, I am a bit tired and sun burnt, but EXTREMELY grateful for the experiences I have already had. Today, our host mama took us all over Quito to show us her favorite locations. I was blown away by the city's beauty, and reverence for their culture's history that is embedded within their city. Downtown Quito is full of beautiful churches that display the pride and reverence of the people's religion and church history. As I toured these old churches, I felt the honor that the Ecuadorian people have for this city. The Ecuadorian people have endured much suffering and division, but have remained unified in their history, as they are a collectivist culture. Also, earlier today, we toured the Fundación Guayasamín Museum, which displayed art by Guayasamín that portrayed the suffering of the native people, and the anger and tragedy within the Ecuadorian culture. These two experiences that I had today opened my eyes as to why this culture can be so collectivist. Livermore, in Leading with Cultural Intelligence, explains that CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Drive is the motivation, interest, and energy behind adapting to a culture (Livermore, 27). It is difficult to
engage and explore a new culture when there are numerous challenges, including a language barrier (Livermore, 27). However, with CQ Drive, one can adapt quite quickly when there is a motivation behind the exploration. Today, I found my CQ Drive for exploring the Ecuadorian culture within its history and suffering. The native people have endured a lot of war, poverty, and abandonment. Today, I felt compassion and empathy for this culture and found myself eager to learn more about the history and how Quito has evolved since times of war and tragedy with the Spanish.
I feel as though these experiences created a collectivist culture. The natives had to stick together, and fight for one another, leading to a strong connection within their religion or people group. Individualism vs Collectivism is the difference between one's identity (Livermore, 101). The US is a very individualist culture, so, decisions are made based off of the needs or desires of an individual, and social harmony may not always be a top priority. However, in Latin America, the collectivist culture promotes togetherness, care for the individual's family and friend group, loyalty, and social harmony (Livermore, 101). These values have become apparent when observing
and interacting with my host mama. An example of this came up in a recent conversation with her about her family. She told me that her uncle owns the rest of her apartment building, but I was confused as to why we have not met him. She expressed to me that they are not close and do not interact. This was shocking to me as Ecuador is a collectivist culture, and they value family harmony. However, she expressed very deeply how he is still very loyal to her and would do anything for her, as they both respect their family roots. In the US, if a family member is cut off or shunned, there is usually no more communication and much hostility within the broken relationship. I have witnessed this type of hurt and betrayal of loyalty within close family ties. However, in a collectivist culture, even if there is less communication, family is valued and members are loyal. I cannot speak for all of Ecuador on this, but from what I have observed, family relationships are extremely important and my host mama loves her uncle even if there is conflict.
Another aspect of collectivism that I noticed was how my mama interacts with her friends, and how she helps them. She went to a funeral for her friend’s mother, and stayed for a very long time in order to speak to each individual and let them know they were on her mind. Even though she did not know them, she was compassionate towards them, and extended her care for her friends. This was another example of a relational aspect in the culture that is different from the US. Of course, there are many caring individuals and loyal families, however, it is emphasized throughout the whole culture here, which is very life-changing. I even noticed that my mama will always strike conversation with our taxi drivers, while in the US, we would not necessarily do this because we are focused on getting to our destination, and not on developing even just short term connections. If the US had this type of collectivist culture, I wonder how the country would unite in political strife, how relationships may be mended, and how personalities would evolve if establishing more connections were of higher priority.
Thanks for reading my second entry in Ecuador! I have attached a photo of the artwork at the museum, of one of the cathedrals in downtown Quito, and of myself, my host mama, and my roommate and friend, Lindsey!
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