Topic 3 Social & cultural learning in Spain: traditions, local values, linguistic specificities

Although we live in a globalised world, where information, images and sounds reach us from the furthest corners of the world at an exaggerated speed, thanks to new technologies, we all have our own culture, which identifies us and at the same time differentiates us from other cultures, traditions or socio-political systems. Hence the richness of the human being and of the global village.

We are people who migrate from one place to another and bring with us our cultural and experiential baggage and our languages of origin, the host country adds wealth and progress with the arrival of people from outside the EU, and a new intercultural society begins to emerge, made up of all of us, those from here and those from distant and different countries.

Immigrants, in this case non-EU women, leave their countries, they leave behind the affections of a lifetime, what they know, what they are not afraid of, they emigrate for different reasons but with the same objective and the same desire: to achieve wellbeing and a better life than in their countries of origin. They are motivated and moved by the desire to live together with the citizens of the host country on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Here, we are faced with a need: to provide the women with tools that will help them to live better and adapt to this new society, to their new locality. The best tool is to learn everything that can help them to have a more peaceful life and personal autonomy, with the main objective of coexisting with the local population. The desire to achieve true intercultural relations is what moves most of the women established here in the Valencian Community, specifically in Quart De Poblet.

Useful learning in the medium and long term is that which aims to include non-EU citizens, women in this case, in the daily life of the local people, and which facilitates their metacognitive understanding of everything that is going on around them.

Let’s take an example: a woman from outside the EU learns by repetition the greeting and farewell in the language of her new country, but she doesn’t know any tradition of the place where she lives, she does not understand why people here, when they speak to you, look you straight in the eye, without disguise, while in her country, it is a lack of respect.

Another example: Learning what the public holidays are in their locality, or at state level, makes families and women especially feel that they are part of everyday life, and that they can talk to their children about the new country they live in, with authority, and facilitates their inclusion.

Situating oneself in the world: One cannot feel part of a society if one does not feel an active subject, the knowledge of traditions, new to the newcomer, makes them feel empowered, able to participate in the debate and life of their new place of residence.

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In the Valencian Community, and therefore in Quart de Poblet, Valencian and Spanish are spoken.

Most of the women who come to Quart do not know the linguistic specificity of the municipality, they do not know the existence of several official languages in Spain, they do not know the territory and the history of this country, the exceptions are few, it is up to the trainers to situate them from the recent history, in a simple and brief way, from the political system of their new country, from the traditions different from those of their countries of origin, in short, to train in the language or languages is to train culturally and socially.

It is very important to take into account that children receive their education in both Valencian and Spanish in schools and institutes, more than 50% of the education received is in Valencian. In addition, the local administration uses both official languages, the educational centres also use Spanish and Valencian.

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When we talk about local values, we cannot separate them from human values. We start from universal values to highlight the values of a locality, values such as empathy, solidarity, equal opportunities, justice are in every human community. However, when we refer to traditions, we observe that they vary from one region to another, from one community to another, even from one village to another. When immigrant women start their lives in a different place, they know neither the traditions nor the languages spoken in their own municipality, and our training consists of providing them with all the information they need to understand the environment in which they live and interact with the local population.

Traditions are passed down over time from generation to generation, a country, a locality adopts them and has them as a fundamental part of its daily life. There are family traditions, national traditions, local traditions, legal traditions and even verbal and non-verbal traditions.

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There are many and diverse, here are a few Valencian traditions

  • Las Fallas in Valencia.
  • The Magdalena in Castellón.
  • The Bonfires of San Juan in Alicante.
  • The Moors and Christians.
  • La Tomatina in Buñol.
  • The Cordà in Paterna.
  • The Misteri d’Elx.

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The training of non-EU women in all areas related to daily life is vital for them and for the coexistence of all citizens, regardless of their origin, language, religion or culture. Learning is empowering because knowledge opens paths and motivates the person to be autonomous, and even helps to bring about positive changes in women, such as high self-esteem, personal and educational development. Hence, the importance of training and learning; social, cultural, linguistic and above all intercultural learning among all because all cultures are valid, and so are languages.  If there are no real intercultural relations, where the parties know, recognise and respect each other. There cannot be an intercultural society.

Although it is obvious to say that interculturality is bidirectional, it is a mutual effort between people coming from different countries and native people, we must always remember this as a starting point for a society that aims to achieve equality as human beings, women and men.