Family of the Heart

by Ju Laclau Massaglia

Since I arrived in the Netherlands in July, I have been hearing and reading everywhere how easy misunderstandings and misperceptions happen in multicultural environments and, of course, I can see why this makes sense. However, I never realised how powerful these differences could be until I encountered them in real life, and when the culture being misrepresented was the one I come from. Because of this, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, and this space, to share three key things many people probably don’t know about Argentinian culture.

First, let’s start with the basics: Argentina is a quite large country located in the southern part of South America. Because of its geographical location, it contains many different landscapes ranging from mountains to desert and from glaciers to beaches. Most tourists choose to visit Buenos Aires, which is not only the name of the capital city, but also the province around it. Even though they are often mistaken as one place, they are two separate areas: the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is a federal land and not part of any province.

Second, people there have a voice and are not afraid to use it to passionately stand up for their beliefs. Regardless of the side people stand on in a debate, or about a topic, they are willing to fight for their beliefs. For example, the LGBTQ+ community organizes a huge Pride Parade each year and when the abortion law was being debated by the Legislative Power throughout the last few years, both pro-choice and pro-life people stayed up all night, camping outside of Congress, waiting to see what would happen. It is still true that there are many places in which “progressive” lifestyles or decisions are not accepted, and mostly not an option, since there are very conservative values that are still mainstream and the social norm in most communities, but there are also a lot of very accepting people.

Third, one of our main values is caring about others. This is evident when we quickly help out after a natural disaster or when we support and love our friends to the point of having them, in some cases, as a “chosen” family, or “family of the heart”, as we call it. Whenever and whoever we gather with , it is usually around a meal or a mate (that became one per person because it is not very wise to share it in times of COVID) and we can spend hours and hours talking and laughing. We share a lot of inside jokes and understand each other on a much more high-context or implicit level. We know what the other person is talking about because our friends are a part of us and we simply understand them.

Hopefully, these three points can lead people to get a better understanding of Argentinian culture and, even better, open up to sharing and discussing life with people from all around the world. We all have a lot to learn from each other and it is always good to feed our minds with multiple perspectives. After all, there is no one in this world that doesn’t have something to teach us and looking for those learning opportunities can help us grow into truly open-minded, multicultural people.