Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Group behaviours, a video, and bullying, and a mess

Sparked once again by the amazing Nomad and by my sister, (who is also amazing) both of whom have been living as expats for a number of years, I am going to wade into the fray again. Their expat experiences are profoundly different. My sister is largely integrated and most of her friends there are Polish, she is married to a Pole and is fluent in the language. Nomad who has lived as an expat with her expat husband in France is also quite fluent, but has to my understanding, not received a very warm welcome, despite having kids in the local schools. Usually a get out of jail free card.

So, I feel compelled to continue the theme...(someday I may post something shorter, lord only knows when) Nomad's comment got me thinking about how inclusion in a group necessarily means exclusion from another or the exclusion of others from your group. People are unlikely to be both members of "bikes unleashed...create car free bike roads through our city" and simultaneously sit on the "steering committee for the creation of inter-suburban road based infrastructure."

Inevitably there will be a political and philosophical opinion of the members about which decision is better/healthier/more sustainable yaddah yaddah yaddah. The problem comes in when the people rather than the opinions in one group are viewed as better/healthier/smarter/more human yaddah yaddah yaddah.

This is fairly straightforward when we are discussing what is essentially a political decision based on different visions of urban development. When we get to tougher matters that define us more closely, then things get uglier. Although pretty ugly things have played out at neighbourhood association meetings.

I think that Dorky Dad's comment that adults don't exclude and shun as much as kids do probably is valid in some ways. A lot of people do grow up and quit that shit. Others don't. I feel that we may perceive that there is less shunning stems from the fact that people realise that there are some pretty nasty repercussions to those behaviours, so they hide them more cleverly. It is interesting to me that both my sister and Nomad who live as expats feel that this exclusion continues...it may be veiled, but it is there.

Every culture has words that define those outside the group. I am an extranjero in Castilian. The word sounds to me like an extra strange one. Enemy alien, alien, outsider, geek, nerd, loser, the Catalans have a word for Castilians that come here, xarnego. Interestingly it is not in my dictionary, so it cannot be all that polite. Indeed I know it isn't, having heard it used rudely.

The question is whether these words are used scornfully. Whether it also defines someone as unworthy or unlikeable, or inhuman. Whether they can be used politely at all.

The question now, to my mind, lies like this. Group formation is normal based on similarities and differences. Why then do these groups sometimes become viewed negatively, and why does exclusion sometimes become a strenuous and important part of the character of the group. I agree with Traveller One that it has to do with fear. But that is the subject of another post.

Moving along.

Here's a video I found fairly funny...


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On the school front, my eldest daughter was telling me about the culture at her school. She is in Grade 5, and to my delight, unlike in North America, the kids still kiss their Mom's, hold hands with their parents, and to my surprise, the girls are bringing stuffed animals into school. The elder daughter described an incident at the school that occurred today. This is what the nasty boys were doing. They had stolen some girls stuffed tiger with a diaper on, and were torturing it and throwing it back and forth monkey in the middle style. I asked her what other people were doing. She said they were just standing by and watching. I asked if the teachers were doing anything, and she said there were none. Horrific bullying scenarios start to play through my mind. Upon further questioning though I discovered that the girl got the toy back by jumping up and down on his lunch until it was reduced to slime, and kicking him over and over until he gave it back. It was reported that she was trying to kick him, "where it hurts". Apparently they were both laughing too. Felt a whole TRUCK LOAD better at that point. Not exactly your classic bullying technique.

The younger daughter is obviously feeling the strain of the school requirements as she is spending the lunch hour screaming shouting and singing at the top of her lungs every day. Today she got me to lay down on the couch (not hard), put a blanket over my head and made weird and loud noises at me. From very close range. It was pretty funny, although not restful.

Last night the entire family was trying to drink out of a porro. Blogger, are you listening? Show the damn picture....




Here is a site with more porro action in case blogger is feeling fickle still. As you can imagine, it is a little messy to learn the process, although a very hygienic way to share a bottle of wine without any glasses as it NEVER touches your mouth. The younger daughter got in a bathing suit, and would open her mouth, position the porro, but never tip it. She let me pour once, but wiggled so much she got hosed down. The elder daughter could not bring herself to try to pour it, and asked me too, but we kept miscommunicating and I nearly drowned her a couple of times. I tried it as well, and did get some in my mouth, but a lot down my front...the husband was better than the rest of us, although not flawless. Needless to say we were trying this mass messiness with water. It was EVERYWHERE.

9 comments:

Beth said...

Blogger heard you - the picture came through. Love all these fascinating tidbits I'm learning from you (i.e. the porro).
Great story about that little girl holding her own in the schoolyard.

Dorky Dad said...

You have to DRINK out of that thing??? Sorry, man. If I had to drink out of that I'd probably feel a wicked urge to sprout.

oreneta said...

Beth: So glad they heard me this time anyway...yeah, the little girl got elected co-class president that afternoon. She must be quite something.

DD: It is pretty tricky, and must serve to keep drunkeness in check, you can only get so hammered and still pour, and not choke to death.

The husband saw a giant one out in the country once, it would have held at least two gallons of wine. The sign said that if you could lift it with one hand and drink, you were welcome to as much as you wanted, free. Yeeesh

Nomad said...

Hey there,

Thanks for the "amazing" reference...not feeling so today.

Re the difference in our Expat experiences, inclusion exclusion etc. It goes on at home just as much as here or anywhere I suspect, it is just that at home we am on the comfy and included inside so it does not enter the horizon (at all), here we are on the cold and not so comfy outside (no pity just reality)...re your sister perhaps she already has her entrance ticket ...a local husband?
Perhaps that is the difference.

At the risk of beating a dead horse or rather a group of dead horses (and excluding all the others...)

In essence isn't it just the basic idea of "Group" even if one does not enter into better than or not, just different...but if not "Group" then what?

What else is there?

Perhaps we need to invent another way or associating social relationship of being together without being a "Group" different but he same...focus on commonalities...

"commonolizing"???...

(sounds like something wet and gushy you get your colon cleaned with)... sorry I digress...

oreneta said...

Nomad: You are amazing...

Commonalizing, I agree with you, the name does sound a wee bit...um...medical, but the idea. you may have something there.

I agree with you completely about the same things going on in Canada. Absolutly sure it does, as you said, we are the insiders there. No question, the local husband makes a HUGE difference. When I can finally start talking to people here, that may help us as well. She also works there full time, in both Polish and English, so has a network of friends through work, like anywhere, and neighbours, as well as her husband's family. Although we did discuss it over Christmas, and people say hello to her husband more than her, and people will even not respond to her hello's, while they will with the husband. Some of these are people that she sees frequently in her neighbourhood. Some of that though may be a hangover from Nazi/German/Russian occupation and all the horrors that went along with it. A certain suspicion may remain.

Anonymous said...

Actually - re: group and non-group thing, I have also been thinking lately about how some people can manage to make you feel like their close friend - no matter what other close friends of theirs are around - whereas other people - myself for instance - are not very capable at handling the close one-on-one relationships I have with people when more than one of them are present at the same time. I expect oreneta does not understand what I'm talking about because she is one of those people who naturally make everyone feel important and valued without excluding anyone. Anyway - perhaps just the level of social skills makes the group thing happen sometimes. People start enthusing about their group - and then someone new comes along and they are not sure how to embrace the new person while maintaining their groovy group feeling....
By the way the word for stranger in Polish is fequently literally the same as "alien" - like what you would call a small green person stepping out of a silver frisbee in your backyard - ha ha!

oreneta said...

Sis, it is so weird what the words are in other languages. The word for pregnant in Catalan is embarassada. Somewhere between embraced and embarassed....

Love you tons. You are too kind.

Nomad said...

Yeah, she is right...

You ARE one of those people!!

Wait...you mean we are not all important and valued??

*blink*

(just kidding...)

Love ya!!

oreneta said...

Nomad; You are so kind. To be slightly mushy, you ARE important and valued...
Love ya back