So Much to Learn, So Little Time
It's hard to just list one thing that I learned on this study tour. A couple of thing that I discovered (that I know will directly impact our work we do) is:
*Many (or most) of the Latino individuals we will come into contact with do not intend to stay ("settle down") in Minnesota (or even the U.S.). Many of our programs (preparing for the future, etc.) would not be applicable to this population.
*The independent attitude (or "volunteer spirit" as one Latino staff member referred to it) does not come naturally to Mexicans (or Latinos); there's an ingrained belief that it is the government's (vs. their) responsibility to correct community/national problems. This is something to keep in mind when a program is focused on "self-efficacy" or behavior change; we may first need to clarify what is/is not the govenment's responsibility.
*The familial and community unit appears to be much stronger than we typically see in the U.S. We will have little success creating programs and waiting for Mexicans to come and participate. We first need to have a presence in their community/family (attending their community centers, church, fiestas, etc.) which means we need more staff at the local level if this is really our goal. Regional-based staff will have a hard time having a big impact because their regions are large and their free time is little.
One personal action step that I will take is discuss these learnings with Karen and the FD Leadership Team. If one of our initiatives is to better reach Latino audiences we need to most likely restructure how FD generally approaches the work. I will look for clarification for what this means for website, brochures, and other communication pieces as well as our curriculum materials.