We’ve realized that as foreigners we need to be careful not to come across as having an attitude of superiority. The idea seems to exist amongst some that North Americans feel that they are better, and their ways and customs are better than the ways and customs of others. Granted, there are a few from North America that probably do feel that way, but our family and the majority of other gringo families and friends that we know here do not share this attitude.
That being said, there is still the need to be careful of how we act and what we say/write. Schooling is mandatory here, and English is part of the curriculum, so we can be certain that when we are overheard, some or most of what we are saying is understood. Because of this, an innocent conversation comparing differences in habits or culture could be easily misunderstood. For example, there is a custom here of taking time in the middle of the day to eat and spend time with family, during this time businesses close. This is very different than what we are used to in North America so we may be surprised when we arrive at a place of business expecting to be able to what we intended, but we are unable. This may lead to a conversation something like this:
Wow, they are closed, what are we going to do now? We can’t come back later today, we don’t have time! This never would have happened back home! This is going to take some getting used to!
To someone overhearing that conversation, especially if they are already inclined to think North Americans feel superior because of past experience, they may think that we don’t like this custom. But the reality is that we do like it, and we actually think North Americans could learn a thing or two from the importance placed on family. The overheard conversation was merely stating the difference, but again, may be misunderstood.
I recently wrote an article listing some of the differences we notice here as compared to back in Canada. I received a negative comment to the information telling me to go back to my perfect world because I was not needed here. It was not my intention to come across as feeling that the ways back in Canada are better, and we didn’t move here because I felt people here would be better off because of my presence. We moved here because we thought it would be better for our family, we are staying because it is. And although I understand that I can’t please everyone all the time, this comment made me realize the need to be extra careful about the things I say. I reviewed the article and removed the aspects that I felt could have been misunderstood.
We love it here in Ecuador, that’s the reason this website exists. As foreigners we are thankful that the majority of Ecuadorians welcome us with open arms, the people here are very warm and friendly. I’m sure that other foreigners feel the same way, that’s why they choose to live here.
We don’t want to go home – we realize North America is far from perfect. I too have overheard foreigners talking and thought they sounded like they had a superiority complex. This was embarrassing and slightly upsetting of, but it made me realize the need to keep our sense of humor tuned up.
It’s funny when you really think about it. . .
We are all humans; none of us are better, just different. The idea that a person could think that they are fundamentally better because of a difference in the number of hours business are open in the country they were born in, or because of the difference in the way fruit and vegetables are displayed in the country they were born in, is a faulty way of thinking, and kind of comical.
It’s my hope that foreigners will be very careful about what they say, so as not to give the impression of superiority. And it’s also my hope that if local people overhear foreigners sounding superior that they will tap into their sense of humor and just laugh it off. It’s much better to realize that small minded thinking is something to be pitied, rather than to take offense at a faulty thought process. It’s also good to realize that living in a foreign country takes some getting used to, so what’s being heard is probably just part of the adjustment period. So please have patience with us gringos and don’t take us too seriously. We, as foreigners choose to live here because we like Ecuador and Ecuadorians.