Learning from living abroad: Mexico

Posted: April 10, 2024

From sunshine and mountains to ice and snow, M.A. family combines cultures

Once you enter Minnehaha Academy Upper School, you see several students just existing. Little do you know, there are multiple students with different cultural backgrounds. One of those students is senior Mateo Cortes Weiss.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Cortes Weiss moved to Minnesota when he was 8-years-old. As a dual citizen, he appreciates the differences between Monterrey and Minnesota, but his first trip north brought a culture shock.

“What surprised me about moving to the US was that there are no mountains in Minnesota,” said Cortes Weiss.

He had never seen snow and wasn’t used to cold weather. On the bright side, he found tajin, takis, and other favorite food treats in Minnesota’s Mexican markets, and he could watch his favorite pro teams, such as the Boston Celtics, at Target Center.

Cortes Weiss doesn’t have that language barrier others might have, especially in his own home.

“At my mom’s house I speak English,” said Cortes Weiss. “But at my dad’s, I speak only Spanish.”

Cortes Weiss still has his connections back in Monterrey. All of his dad’s family still resides there, and to this day he still has friends he sees. In basketball, he trains with Mexico’s national team and plays for his state team, Nuevo Leon.

Another difference is religion. In Mexico, most Christians are Catholics. In Minnesota, Protestant Christians outnumber Catholic Christians by about 2-to-1, according to the Pew Research Center. At Minnehaha, where a variety of faith backgrounds are represented, there are more Protestants than Catholics, but about one-fourth of church-goers attend nondenominational churches according to a 2023 Talon survey.

Ann Weiss, Mateo’s mother and an Upper School learning specialist, agreed that Mateo and his sister, Isabel (Bizzy), who graduated from M.A. last year, have grown both from their time in Mexico and from adapting to life in Minnesota.

“I would say that since coming to Minnehaha we identify more as ‘Christians’ than we do as ‘Catholics,’” said Weiss. “His faith has grown probably from being here and having the exposure to the Christian education.”

There are more differences in the culture, too.

“I think that the opportunity to be among and around different cultures and different races for sure enriches their lives,” Weiss said.“It for sure is a plus… The world is a better place when you understand and live in community with other groups.”

One word that she used to describe the impact of Monterrey on their lives is “everything.” “It’s such a part of who we are,” said Weiss. “It’s shaped the way we think.”

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