La Mariposa en la Pared

The everyday experiences of latino immigrants through the eyes of an outsider. Las vidas típicas de unos inmigrantes latinos a través de los ojos de una forastera.

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Location: Upstate NY, United States

"To me it’s always interesting when you get accepted somewhere you don’t really belong. It’s interesting when people open up and let you in their world." - Gilles Mingasson

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Dispatch from Our Future: Allie in Slovakia

In light of this sad news of violence between African immigrants and Roma in Spain, I thought I would post my daughter's excited news of a class she is taking in school in Slovakia:
o i have to tell u! i have a Roma class! its mandatory for every high school student in slovakia to take a class on the language and culture of the Romas. but everyone regards it as a huge joke. apparently from what i gather from the students, the Romas are the source of all the crime in SK, they steal, beat people up, and hate evryone and everything. i find this hard to believe. they are a group with no homeland who is forced to live as slovaks live. the slovaks hate them more then they hate the slovaks. its tricky, but im very interested in their culture. sadly the class is in slovak, so for a while i wont understand, but i have the class all year i think.

A required high school course that aims to increase understanding of the Roma and erase people's negative attitudes toward them is a good start, but as Allie said, the kids see the class as a joke. No matter what they are taught in the class, if they go home and learn intolerance from their parents and grandparents, they will only continue to perpetuate that intolerance in spite of what they're told in school.

I wonder how long it will be before our kids are required to take a class on Latino culture in school, and how many of them will regard it as a joke? I hope things don't get to that point here, but there are so many things that do point in that direction. Allie has told me of her many heated discussions about immigration in her social studies classes here in NY with students who, as she put it, were just repeating what they had heard their bigoted parents say at home. She said that, while her teachers were impressed and even admitted that she helped them see things differently, the students often continued to be closed-minded and prejudiced.

We all - Americans and Slovaks - have a responsibility to teach our kids to see a person's humanity first, before we see their skin color or their ethnicity. This kind of learning has got to begin at home, or all the well-intentioned classes at school will only continue to be a source of jokes for the kids.