Cultural Corner: Possessions and Time

The need and desire for basic items, as well as luxuries, bring many Hispanics to the United States. Here they can earn better salaries and can afford many typical American possessions. They work, save, and sacrifice to purchase homes, cars, and other items familiar to the American lifestyle. The overemphasis in America on wealth and the accumulation of wealth have an effect upon Hispanics, for they also are becoming more materialistic.
Time is life. Many Hispanics find it difficult to adjust to the American-scheduled life. We must understand that where they come from-time as we know it-is not important. A man’s life is not crowded with a hundred-and-one things to do. Usually one major event per day is planned and all of life surrounds it. The Hispanic nature is not to follow the clock. To the Anglo “time is money” and the clock “runs,” but to the Hispanic “time is life” and the clock walks. However, in the American business world they, realize the importance of following the clock and adjust their habits to keep a place in the work force. Although Hispanics are very energetic they are never in a hurry.
The family unit continues to be the basis for interrelationships. They play and, when possible, work together. Friendly people by nature Hispanics always have time for fiestas. They love to sing and dance, and family and friends often gather for celebrations. Birthdays, wedding, and baptisms, and other type of celebrations are special times of fellowship. Hispanic interrelationships are slowly cultivated, and for that reason they usually share their feelings with family and friends, not with strangers.
Hispanics are a proud people. Hispanic men have a strong sense of masculine pride. They are taught from childhood that crying is a weakness. Pride prevents most Hispanics from complaining. Because they retain such a strong sense of honor and dignity they are most often ashamed to borrow from strangers and will go hungry rather than beg. They will remain silent in time of illness rather than reveal human weakness. They are particularly proud of their nationality and families. Although they leave their countries because of political or economic strife, they retain pride in their homelands.
Copied with permission from Hispanic Ministry in the Carolinas.