Latino History and Culture
Historians are still unclear on when the first Latinos appeared in North America. The most prevalent theory is that they were nomadic hunters who came from the Asia mainland and across the then frozen Bering Straight into Alaska. Regardless of their origins their main region is now the Americas, both North and South and it is expected that the Latino population in the United States will increase by 40% in the next ten years (US Census 2010). Their culture and society is steeped in tradition and understanding and appreciating their culture is imperative for any person working in the social services field. Latino Traditions and Culture
The Latino culture contains many diverse sub-cultures, however there is a common theme and religion that run through all Latino cultures. An important cultural trend that is prevalent among many Latinos is the closeness of the society; the lack of personal space in their culture is very important as they are more open to physical contact and showing affection. Social Expectations
Time orientation tends to be different for Latinos who are generally more concerned with the present than with the future or planning ahead. Due to this trend, it is often helpful to remind Latino’s the day before an appointment or activity. This also relates to why many Latinos tend to focus more on work than advancing their education. Latino’s see work as a way of receiving money now which is a way they can improve their lives now and if needed have enough to send money to relatives back in their countries of origin. However, advancing their education would mean that they make more in the future but less in the short term where their focus is. The Latino family, including extended family, is the primary social unit, and source of support. Often Latino men who are in the United States come looking for a way to support their family’s back in their home town. Even making minimum wage or less here the amount that these Latino’s send home can make a significant change for the families in their home country. This support of family also extends to those who come to the United States. Often when Latino’s migrate to the United States they stay with family or friends who have previously immigrated. Respect and Interpersonal Relationships
Respect is important in Latino culture as it indicates appropriate behavior towards others based on age, gender, social and economic position and authority. Formality is seen as a sign of respect, including the use of suffixes such as Senor/ Don, Senora/ Dona. Another sign of respect in Latino culture is avoiding eye contact with authority figures. This is often confusing to Americans who see maintaining eye contact as a way of showing several things including respect, listening, understanding, and honesty. Latinos tend to stress the importance of personal rather than institutional relationships. Interpersonal contact is very important to develop trust when interacting with a person of Latino culture. It is common that Latino clients find it uncomfortable to leave messages in office voicemails for this reason. Trust is built on mutual respect over time. Showing personal interest in Latino individual may help establishing trust. Latino families are characterized by traditional gender roles. Men are expected to have machismo or prominently exhibited masculinity this means men should be rational, strong, authoritarian, and independent. Women are expected to be submissive, dependant, as well as take care of the children and the household. Many Latino’s believe that events are meant to happen because of fate, a power that they cannot control. Many Latino clients will say “It’s my cross to bear”, or “If God wishes so”. This fatalism may prevent them from seeking help. Because of this fatalism, spiritual healers play an important role in helping people with physical as well as mental concerns. Some Latinos believe...
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