We encourage all of our volunteers to learn about the Mexican and Mayan cultures. Cross-cultural communication is an essential tool to carry out our mission with integrity and compassion.
Generalizations about culture can be harmful when there is too much emphasis on them. However, they can also be helpful as people try to understand our commonalities and differences. Here are some generalizations that hopefully will help you understand the people who Acción serves.
Mayans by nature are friendly, but initially shy. They are “private” individuals deeply centered in their family and extended family. For Mexicans in general, family is the most important unit, and the source of one’s identity. (In comparison, American culture is more individualistic.) Most people live their whole lives in the same close-knit community where they were born, although the younger generation may have to go to a larger city to find work. It is common for people to live near their extended family and for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to take an active role in raising children together.
Mayans have traditionally been discriminated against, similar to Native Americans in the U.S. Speaking Mayan and acknowledging one’s Mayan heritage were once looked down upon and only recently started to become acceptable in popular culture.
It is important to understand the people we serve, and the partnership that Acción Ministries strives so hard to create between Americans and Mayan Mexicans.