Traditions and tortillas bind Garcia’s extended family


Photo submitted by: Karla Garcia

Karla Garcia and her relatives make tortillas and share stories

The role of elders in society is different in every country and every time period. However, the commonality between all elders is the extensive breadth of experiences that they have.

Elders have been scientifically shown to have more wisdom than young people. However, this wisdom is not associated with how smart somebody is or how high their IQ is, but instead by social decision making, emotional stability, prosocial behaviors, decisiveness, uncertainty, and insight, according to geriatric neuropsychiatrist Dilip Jeste.

Each of these are developed through experiences, and so elders, who have had more time to gain more experience, inherently have more wisdom than youth.

Relationships between elders and young people often allow those who are younger to learn lessons from those with more experience. For sophomore Karla Garcia, her relationship with her grandparents has allowed her to learn new things.

“My grandma has taught me how to make tortillas…[and] to appreciate the small things in life and take nothing for granted,” sophomore Karla Garcia said.

Garcia made tortillas for the first time with her grandma when visiting her in Mexico a few years ago for Christmas, and discovered how it helped her relax.

“[My grandma, aunts and dad] called my cousins and me to help them [make tortillas]. We then proceeded to make tortillas and tamales for the next 3 hours. During this time we talked and [they] told stories…about their childhood and their theories about the Llorona,” Garcia said. The Llorona, a story about a mother whose ghost searches for her two children that drowned in a river, is a well-known folklore story in Hispanic culture.

We then proceeded to make tortillas and tamales for the next 3 hours. During this time we talked and [they] told stories…about their childhood and their theories about the Llorona”

— Karla Garcia

Garcia doesn’t make tortillas often, but she always enjoys the experience.

“[Making tortillas] is a destressor, and really helps me calm myself and distract me from other things I have going on like homework and studying. I enjoy spending time with my family while making them, which I do not get to do as much when I am busy with school,” Garcia said. “It can be an all-day project and it is really rewarding to eat something you made by hand.”

When visiting her family in Mexico, Garcia is able to continue traditions, such as making tortillas. But even when not in Mexico, Garcia continues to connect with her family through those traditions.

“I would say that I have a close-knit family. We love to spend a lot of time together. I only get to see my grandparents, uncles, and cousins from Mexico every 2 years. However everytime I see them we keep our traditions going,” Garcia said. “I have come back to the United States and made tortillas with my other cousins.”

Garcia’s grandparents, by showing her how to appreciate the small things in life, have encouraged her to apply that lesson to her own life.

“It has definitely been a hard lesson to implement in my life. I have learned this lesson by realizing that I am very fortunate, realizing that I have many opportunities that others don’t have the luxury to have,” Garcia said.

This lesson has, in Garcia’s opinion, shaped her for the better.

“The ideology of appreciating all the small things life has to offer that I have learned from my grandparents helps me be a better person. I have learned to never take anything for granted,” Garcia said.

Though she is not an elder, through her connection with her grandparents, Garcia has been able to learn lessons that are typically taught by time.