Cultural Interaction; Guatemala & Me


Rudy A. Girón

Description/Descripción > AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Guatemala License. Bajo licencia Creative Commons: Reconocimiento-No comercial-Compartir bajo la misma licencia 3.0 Guatemala. Photograph: Rudy A. Girón/ Fotografía: Rudy A. Girón/ If you would like to use this photograph, please get in touch with me through my contact form at LAGDP. Si le gustaría usar esta fotografía, por favor ponerse en contacto conmigo a través del formulario de contacto de mi sitio personal.

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Culture is the way groups of people express themselves. Culture helps people come together and build communities by having people learn from each other,  learn about each other’s struggles, and ways to help one another. We learn where people come from  and how life is the same or different. Understanding culture is necessary to our humanity because we all come from different places. Humans from different cultures can learn to have better interpersonal dialogue and communicate more on a personal level with one another. It helps people and communities. 

  It is important to learn about different cultures because this will help people get along with one another and be able to see them as a human being,  as it should be everywhere in the world.  Learning about different cultures enables you to try new things, meet new people, and learn to speak different languages too. Learning is a lifelong thing; we as  humans are always learning new things everyday and culture should be a big part of it since we see and meet new people.  There are three levels of culture: surface culture; meaning what you see, foods, songs, art and holidays, shallow cultures: meaning what you do, concepts of time, food sources, eye contact, deep culture; meaning what you believe, decision making ideas, and beliefs that create a world view. 

 I love my culture. I’m going to tell you about my Guatemalan culture and describe to you my experience there.  I encourage you to visit my family’s native country.  Travel is the best way to learn about the three levels of culture as I did when I traveled for my visit to Guatemala.

this team photo was taken recently on the same field i played on dec 2017/jan 2018

 I remember when I went to Guatemala in late 2017.  I spent my 15th birthday in Guatemala.  At first, I thought I wasn’t gonna like it, but then when I got there, my mood changed fast and I loved it.  As we drove from the airport in Guatemala City to my abuela’s house in a little town called Agua Blanca, we witnessed so many people on one small country road.  I saw many colorful houses and the sounds of music, children, dogs and many people gathered together on the streets.  It felt like a big welcome party.  Everyone looked happy to see us.  As I fell asleep, I could hear the animals and the outside noises of the night.  I saw the stars and felt the night air, through the open roof.  It was peaceful. It felt different, but, in a way, I felt like I was home.  The weather was wonderful. Much like the family and friends I met.  It only rained once or twice.  Actually, I don’t think it rained when I was there.  

The Surface Culture in Guatemala can be described as what I saw and what I heard immediately as I got there.  The fast Spanish speaking people caught my ear. I smelled delicious  food. I saw people dancing to upbeat Maya music and celebrating colorful artwork. All of this was the  people getting ready for the yearly festival called Feria de los Reyes Mago.  For several days, the people of the small town celebrate. With  carnival rides, games, delicious food, Jaripeos, and fireworks.  I love going to Guatemala in December because it feels like summer vacation during a winter holiday of faith and family.  

Tacos and Papusas


The shallow cutlure in Guatemala can be described as actions of love and hospitality; a hug is freely given and received. The air, the energy and environment is great. In Guatemala you will feel welcomed by the people you will encounter.   They will be very friendly and kind to you and want to talk to you.  When you greet someone, you should always say.  “Mucho gusto” as just saying hello is too casual.   Make sure you’re making eye contact to show you have respect for them and care for what they are saying.  People in Guatemala enjoy talking to Americans; learning about how life is in the states, and what they do for a living.   People in Guatemala are always interested in what is going on in the United States. The best thing  in Guatemala is meeting new people. They will ask you how you are doing.  Como estas? How is your day? Todo bien?  They will talk to you in a friendly way, and let you know that you are welcomed here by people in Guatemala.   

The Deep Culture of Guatemala can be described as a common faith with a humble and grateful attitude about life.   From the small towns in the volcanic highlands, to the shores of beautiful lake Atitlan, to the busy, narrow streets of Guatemala City, the  people show that there is a common belief in God; they are humble and grateful.  In Guatemala, they believe in Catholicism and Christianity.  There is a small number of Guatemalan Jewish population in the center of Guatemala City.  It is a culture of  welcoming people instead of judging people.  Guatemalans get to know people. They build trust for one another to view the world in a good way together .  The strong culture of the Catholic Church is present in Guatemala. Life is not always easy, because of poverty,  but they don’t give up because they have faith.    If you go to church, or not, you still see people with Bibles gathering at historic churches and marching in the streets.  I never went to church there, but I would see people celebrating God.  

When people have common beliefs and they act on them through their different cultures, it is possible to find the deep culture of human rights and the common responsibilities of global citizenship.  When I experienced the deep culture of Guatemalan faith and the humble hospitality of my own Guatemalan culture, I recognized the common need we all have to believe in a greater good and to be welcomed by another.

To learn a new culture is to see how people are different in different places. There are shallow and surface levels of cultures that seem to show great differences in appearance and action. The fear of different cultural actions and appearances leads to racism and prejudice.  Learning a different culture is the best thing to learn because it’s learning to appreciate differences instead of judging or fearing them. When we enjoy cultural differences, we understand that there are ideas and beliefs in common between all humans.  These common beliefs and ideas help us become better global citizens.  I encourage you to visit Guatemala. I want you to see how life is different  from the United States; experience the difference and you will understand what is in common. Understanding what is in common is the goal of a global citizen.  It is better for the two countries to understand and work together for common good. If you choose to go, maybe you will enjoy the warm Guatemalan sun and find understanding of the Guatemalan people like I did.