DUALITY OF CULTURES
By Don Merlot
My first trip to the outside world started in New York in 1968 when working with our international advertising agency and the account people. I met them face to face and worked with them to carry out my responsibilities.
I had grown up in Mexico City. My parents were American; and we spoke English at home.
I attended the American School which was a primary school and junior and senior high. Classes would be half day in English and half day in Spanish. Most students had similar backgrounds; mostly Americans; or European or Mexican parents who wanted to have the children have a bilingual education.
Many fathers worked for American companies or the U.S. Government. There were also Canadians, and Europeans. We were part of the Anglo-American community of Mexico City. When we visited friends, we would walk or ride our bikes to see each other. As we matured we could take busses if we went beyond our neighborhood.
One day I was with a friend on city bus and we were talking in English when an older woman asked us, Por que no hablan en Cristiano? ( “Why are you not speaking in Christian?” She meant Spanish, of course.) I remember being startled by that. We knew other passengers we interested in our answer. I was instantly aware that we were in an awkward situation. We apologized and talked in Spanish. Mexico’s language is Spanish and “in Rome do what the Romans do.”