Where is everybody?

I was recently interviewed about how deportations are directly affecting small businesses in Southwest Detroit by Hub Detroit, a publication dedication to telling stories about the neighborhoods. As a consultant working with a number of nonprofit organizations in Southwest Detroit, I spend most of my days working directly with small business owners, helping them to access resources and to solve problems.

Over the last year, one of the greatest challenges for Southwest Detroit businesses is their shrinking client base due to immigration threats. People are in disaster preparation mode, staying out of public spaces and saving money in case of an emergency. The somber change in the vibe of the neighborhood was palpable right after the election, it has now evolved into a state of resignation as people attempt to continue living their lives. Stories of raids, detentions, and the hardship that children and spouses are suffering when the bread winner is deported have shifted from shocking to normalized.

November 2017 Issue of The Hub Detroit

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_1
HUB Detroit, November 22, 2017 misunderstood the name of my business in our phone interview. (Puente de) Conexion is the name of our nonprofit organization, the name of my company is Puente Cultural Integration.
La Posada Mexican Restaurant & Market
Both the image of the Southwest mural and the image above are from Posada Mexican Restaurant and Market, one of my absolute favorite hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican restaurants in the world. (This is a common scene in SW, owner, Juan Romo (right) sitting with me discussing business with the owner of DMex Printing, Cesar Escobedo. (My favorite butcher, Salvador Enriquez from Carnicería Guadalajara is seen in background.)

Hub Immigration Changing the Tide Dec 2017_Page_3

For some feel good stories about how amazing Southwest Detroit is and to find a directory of all the businesses in both Mexicantown and the West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, see the November 18, 2017 edition of The Hub Detroit.

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Travel to Cuba

¡Vamos Pa’ Cuba! Puente Cultural Integration is planning its first trip to Cuba.  Government policies keep changing and we have been paying close attention to the latest updates. In the last couple of months, the US has opened bids for domestic airline carriers to provide service to Cuba and has eliminated many restrictions for travel. We, like so many others, are anxious to see Cuba before their doors open to all tourism and trade. Interest has been great in the Metro Detroit area. Because this is unknown territory for US businesses, there is value in seeking out a cultural liaison that can help you to bridge the gap between the US and Cuba.

We are working with strategic partners and our initial trip falls under two categories allowed by the US State Dept. for travel to Cuba.

  1. Educational Activities: exploration of cultural centers, museums, music, art, architecture, and cuisine.
  2. People-to-People: our primary goal is to form relationships with various locals in multiple cities that will provide ongoing mutually beneficial relationships. We aim to eat with the locals, find dance instructors, meet musicians and honor their craft, connect with artisans, and stay in “casas particulares” to embrace the daily life of the Cuban people.

As of March 15th, the Department of Treasury has updated its FAQS page which includes the following, “Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to the criteria and conditions in each general license: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.”

 

 

Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017

Equal Access to Resources in Southwest Detroit

I am really proud to be part of a bilingual collaborative that helps provide resources to the business owners in Southwest Detroit. We decided to join forces last year and have had wonderful results.

Estoy muy orgullosa de ser parte de una colaboración bilingüe que ayuda proporcionar recursos para los dueños de negocio en Southwest Detroit. Decidimos juntarnos hace un año y hemos tenido excelentes resultados.

In November, it was my honor to be the interpreter for Don Rodrigo Padilla, from Taquería el Nacimiento, as he received not only a grant award from the DEGC’s MotorCity Re-Store program, but was also asked to tell his story at the event. (He is also featured on billboards around the city!)

En Noviembre, tuve el honor de ser intérprete para el estimado Don Rodrigo Padilla, de la Taquería el Nacimiento cuando no solo recibió un premio por parte de Motor City Re-Store, sino también le pidieron que contara su historia en el evento.

Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017
Rodrigo Padilla with interpreter Bridget Espinosa, Motor City Re-Store Round 2 Awards November 28, 2017 – as featured in Latino Press 12/7/2017 (Also a MMR Winner!)

Southwest Detroit received more awards than any other neighborhood, in part due to the hard work of our collaboration. Four businesses from the BID – West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, for which I provide outreach, received grants and eight TechTown SWOT City clients in in my Southwest Detroit portfolio received awards, including:

Follow these businesses on Facebook so you can see the progress as they help to beautify Southwest Detroit with new murals and other exterior improvements.

Southwest Detroit recibió más premios que cualquier otro vecindario, nuevo de cuarenta y uno, debido al trabajo colaborativo de nuestras agencias. Cuatro negocios en el BID – el Distrito Comercial de Mejoramiento de West Vernor – Springwells, por la cual apoyo en las comunicaciones, y ocho de mis clientes de TechTown SWOT City recibieron premios.

Sigue los negocios en Facebook para que puedas ver el progreso mientras ayuden embellecer a Southwest Detroit con murales nuevos y otras mejoras exteriores.

MCR_Taqueria El Nacimiento_Don Rodrigo
Don Rodrigo – Taquería el Nacimiento 7400 W. Vernor Detroit, MI 48209

Photos courtesy of Latino Press http://www.latinodetroit.com and MotorCity Re-Store.

5 de Mayo is NOT Independence Day

One would think that news outlets would occasionally use Google or even Wikipedia to confirm their history, yet, sadly, no. Sunday night, as I was watching the WXYZ-Detroit news coverage of the Mexicantown Cinco de Mayo Parade it was reported that the parade commemorated Mexico’s Independence Day. NO! NO! NO! Apparently, they could’ve just read one of their own publications (featuring some of my favorite Mexicantown eateries) that makes it very clear!

5 de mayo ninos mari 2016.jpg

Here in the US – Cinco de Mayo has become of symbol of Mexican Heritage; a day that Hispanic communities throughout the United States celebrate with parades, folkloric dance, and cultural festivals. I was thrilled to see my amiga, who grew up in SW Detroit, is continuing her family’s passion for dance with her children (featured in the photos). Mexican restaurants have really capitalized on this holiday, much like St. Patrick’s Day, marketing to Anglo-Americans with tequila specials & fiestas.

In Mexico – Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday to commemorate the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Kids are off of school and government offices are closed. (Think President’s Day or Labor Day in comparison.) The only place where this day is celebrated with any pomp or circumstance is in the city of Puebla. This battle took place between the ill-prepared Mexican army who were victorious against Napoleon’s army.

So spread the word, especially to your drunken friends and media outlets who didn’t take time to hit wikipedia before they go on the air!

P.S. Mexico’s Independence Day is actually on September 16th, although it is celebrated the night of September 15th with a reenactment  of the  “Grito de Independencia” where you will hear the country join their elected officials in a resounding “¡Viva México!” & enjoy street parties with fireworks.

3 Tips ¿Sí/No?: Business w/ Latinos

Did you know that Hispanics now make up 18% of the total U.S. population? Yet, Hispanic and Latino labels are sociolinguistic and geographical – not racial. It is difficult to generalize the Latino population; it is far more diverse than one might think.

There are over 57 million people who identified as Hispanic in the U.S.(Statistics according to Pew Research, 2015)  Recent studies estimate that there are over 470 million native Spanish speakers throughout the world,  with over 52 million people in the U.S. who are either native speakers or are bilingual. (According to the Instituto Cervantes, 2015) Understanding cultural norms is no longer optional, it needs to be an integral part of all professional development and market strategy.

Spanish Speaking Population

(Image from www.SpanishSEO.org, 2008)

Here are 3 Tips for conducting business with Hispanics / Latinos:
(D) 

Número Uno: Don’t assume all people of Hispanic origin are the same! 

  • Some speak Spanish. Some don’t. Some are white, some are brown, some are black.
  • Some are European, not all. Some are from Mexico, not all. Some are from caribbean islands. Some were born in the U.S., some were born in Latin America.
  • Many are of mixed mestizo or mulatto ethnicities.
  • Most consider themselves American (North America, Central America, South America = America = American)

Número Dos: Do build relationships! 

  • Always greet with a sincere Good morning! Good afternoon! Hello, How are you? – whether it is via email, text message, phone or in person!
  • Allow time to get to know your colleague, employee or client – you will be far more effective. Keep current with their lives & your business will flourish.
  • Ask lots of open-ended questions.

Número Tres: Do provide positive feedback!*

  • With Latinos, you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  • We all love compliments, but Latinos are motivated to please and love to make people happy. Provide strong, positive feedback for performance without a “but” and you will find an immediate correlation to their work or response times.
  • In general terms, blame is passive in the Spanish language. Criticism should be collective or passive (ex: “This project isn’t moving along as effectively as we’d like.”  vs. “YOU haven’t met this deadline.” Or “WE need to firm up our target dates so we can deliver to the client on time.”) 

#3 is tricky and I will be writing a blog just on this dynamic principle of constructive criticism from a cultural perspective. It will change the way you relate and improve your bottom line.*

We all know that the United States is a diverse society. In every metropolitan area you will find people from almost every corner of the world. Our demographics are shifting, the ethnic population of the U.S. is up 10% over the last 20 years. It is estimated that the combined minority population will surpass 50% within the next generation. Now is the time to embrace cultural understanding and integration. Our social, political, and economic future depends on it.

If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff or you are in need of Spanish language services, please contact Bridget@puenteci.com for a quote.*

Cuba Libre

President Obama is in Cuba! This is an historic event for both the United States and this unique island to our south. Cuba is so close, yet has remained a folkloric unknown to their neighbors to the north. The doors are opening and will provide an opportunity for individuals on both sides to finally connect.

I have been obsessed with Cuba for years. It has been on my bucket list ever since I was introduced to the music of the Buena Vista Social Club in the 1990’s. I was so fortunate to get to see them at the University of Michigan and I used their documentary with musician Ry Coder, to introduce Cuban culture to my Advanced Placement Spanish students.

To so many of us, the island seems to be frozen in time. The classic cars that cruise down the Malecón exemplify the Havana of old. We need to go and witness this complex culture. Governments and politics aside, we also need to respect their history and not impose our American values. Modernization and trade will benefit the Cuban people, but the preservation of their culture must always be part of the conversation. In other countries, we have seen McDonald’s & Starbucks put locally owned shops out of business. We have seen ecosystems harmed by Monsanto, both in the US and abroad. Let’s allow Cuba to remain Cuba, while initiating  opportunity for trade and providing Cultural exchanges. It is about the people! We must make sure that Cubanos have a voice and are not forgotten in the process of creating a Cuba Libre!

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

The cultural and linguistic diversity among the 21 official Spanish-speaking countries is great. Each country has their own unique cultures, accents, and expressions. Learning the different meanings of words and “¿Cómo se dice . . .? / How do you say . . .?” in different regions gives insight into the culture.

Matador Network is a great resource for international cultures and travel and I loved this post on Mexican Expressions. Learning the slang expressions when I lived in Mexico changed my language from textbook to native-like. These types of expressions exist in each country – with huge variations from one region to the next.

There is a also a huge variation in accents throughout the Spanish-speaking world.  It is similar to how different English speakers sound to each other. When someone from Scotland hears the accent from Texas or when someone from Boston speaks to a Jamaican, they might feel like they are listening to a foreign language! The same is true in Spanish. This video made me literally LOL with the examples of how different countries’ accents sound to native Spanish speakers.

If you are interested in a workshop or training series about the diverse cultures of the Spanish-speaking world or if your company needs a consultant with expertise in a specific region of Latin America, contact us here to set-up an appointment.

Why was I so affected by Sandra Bland’s arrest and death?

(Editor’s note: I originally wrote this in July. I was leery about posting a controversial piece. I decided it’s too important.)

I don’t know why the video footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest has me so shaken-up?

I can relate to the stress and annoyance Sandra felt that day. I hear it in her voice. She was smart and articulate. She was an “Angry Black Woman”. She was exasperated and tired.  She was “Driving While Black”.

If she had been a White woman, if that had been me? Would I have been treated the same way? Would I have been pulled over? Would I have been spoken to in the same way? Would I have been arrested? Would I have died?

I am a smart, outspoken, sassy and sarcastic (White) woman. It gets me in trouble sometimes. It’s never gotten me arrested. It’s never gotten me killed.

CNN debates and experts disagree why she was arrested.

Of course, I will (maybe?)

It has been my experience that Latin Americans are very generous with their time and energy. They have really good intentions and will almost always say “Yes” or “Claro que sí” to most requests.

Their follow-through, however, is complex. (See my previous blog: “Love the one you’re with ;-)” ) Previous commitments will not trump current activities.

Yes, almost always means “maybe, if nothing else comes along”. So take their “Claro que sí” with a grain of salt (and maybe a shot of tequila?)

Traveling in Latin America

You’ll find dozens of articles and tips about traveling abroad. Some are applicable to our business travel as well as for pleasure. While most tips will focus on Europe, the cultures of Latin America have a deep European influence and can be a source of valuable tips when traveling for work.

nice-shoes-1418878-639x843Here are a few tips from Puente Cultural Integration for business travel in Latin America:

  1. Dress the part
    • Err on the side of formality
    • Even (or especially) for social events – Latin Americans will dress up
    • No tennis shoes unless it’s an athletic event
    • You can always take off the sport coat & tie if you are overdressed
    • If everyone else is in business dress & you show up in khakis / polo – what role do you play?
  2. Eat the local cuisine with your hosts
    • Nothing can kill a deal faster than your desire to eat at McDonald’s or TGI Friday’s
    • Insist that they take you to a local restaurant & let them order for you
    • One person (usually the highest exec) always picks up the check (do not offer to split the bill)
    • If you are buying the meal say “Les invito” (I’m inviting you all) & you must ASK the waiter for the bill “La cuenta, por favor” – they will never just bring it.
    • Enjoy your meal – it is not uncommon for a “business” lunch / dinner to last 2-3 hours.
    • Say “Provecho” (Bon Apetit)  before eating & “¡Salud!”  (Cheers!) before drinking
  3. Business is done after hours
    • Relationships matter – ask about their family
    • Real conversations matter – find out what they love to do
    • Business deals will be sealed the next day, don’t insist on keeping the business talk going out of the office
    • Use the out-of-office “social” time to build the relationship & the business will get handled more effectively
  4. Be really careful with taxis
    • Only use radio taxis or a business/hotel car service
    • Ask the hotel concierge
    • Never hail a cab off the street

      Freeimages.com/MiguelEsquivel
      Freeimages.com/MiguelEsquivel

More useful tips can be found from on msn.com “How to NOT be an Ugly American Abroad”.

Did you find these tips useful? contact us here.

If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff, please contact bridget@puenteci.com for a quote.