CONNECTING ACROSS CULTURES
Turning Neighbors Into Friends and Allies
By Carol Paradise Decker
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Cultural differences can cause problems. In this book, the author details a workshop she conducted and the lessons learned in Vecinos (broadly defined as “neighbors”) experiences in New Mexico that addressed these problems. The themes explored were crucial: the power of names, the tri-cultural trap, culture and cultures, stereotypes, heritage, values, racism, communications, conflict, bridges, and more. Though the focus is on relationships, the implication is that these relationships will lead to action and alliances as everyone works together on community and individuals’ problems. Some of the text is “commentary,” introducing a theme or reflecting on some of its manifestations. Illustrative stories are sometimes included to add to the account. A large part of the book is devoted to quotations more or less intact, by individuals that reveal perspectives on some of the larger issues dealt with. Although there are plenty of resources—books, documentaries, articles, films—the author states that they must not substitute for contact with real people. Included also are many timeless tips about dealing with cross-cultural contacts. The author hopes that this book will help increase the reader’s awareness, comfort and effectiveness in their own intercultural associations, and lead to warm, enriching friendships for many years.
Carol Paradise Decker came to Santa Fe from Connecticut in 1980 with a background in Spanish, adult education and intercultural relations. Since then she has taught Spanish, New Mexico Heritage, and Intercultural Relations to adult groups in many venues. For five years (1998–2003) she served as a volunteer at the Pecos National Historical Park. As she observed life in New Mexico, she wondered how to help cross the cultural gaps among the various people she encountered. Her previous books, both from Sunstone Press, are Pecos Pueblo People through the Ages, explaining how changing times affected the lives of many people, and The Great Pecos Mission, both based on her five years as a volunteer at the Pecos National Historical Park.
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