Monday, December 8, 2014

The Western Hemisphere

Day One of a three-and-a-half day annual meeting at which all the British Council offices in the Americas chew the cud. Each year it's held in a different city and, just my luck, this year it's Mexico City.
Coming from a region - East Asia - which was incredibly diverse, multilingual and spread out, I thought the Americas would be somehow more homogenous, but of course it's not. We have offices in Canada, USA, Mexico, Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. It's mainly Spanish-speaking, with two obvious exceptions, English in USA and Portuguese in Brazil, but also French in Canada. And it's very spread out. From our office in Montreal to Buenos Aires it's 9,000kms - a 15 hrs minimum flight. It's too simple to describe it as two Americas, North and South. Mexico considers itself in North America, although in many ways out has more in common with the Ibero culture of the South. The Caribbean is similarly 'in between'. And Brazil thinks of itself as very separate from its Spanish-speaking neighbours (and its sizeable black demographic also bears that out).
Anyway, all good stuff. Nice to meet everyone, some I knew, some I didn't. 

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