Today on the podcast we have an unscripted conversation about current world events for you to challenge your English with. We discuss politics, corruption, the new president and more. Feel free to join us on Sunday for the Uncensored English Café to tell us about your country and the silly issues you face.
*** Transcript ***
Keiran: All right. Hey, everyone. Welcome to the podcast. It is January the 23rd. It's Wednesday. It's hump day. We're over the week, and I'm not going to waste any time. I got a new guest on the podcast today. This guy's is an old friend of mine. He's a former roommate of mine. He's a French teacher in Mexico. Hey, Julien. How's it going, man?
Hey there, Keiran. Things are doing pretty good down here. Nice to be on the show. Good to hear you.
Yeah, thanks for coming, man. Why don't you just go ahead and tell the listeners a little bit about your story? Who you are and what you're up to in your life right now.
Sure. My name is Julien, and grew up pretty much right next to Keiran, not too far away. Went to high school together in Montreal and went to university there. Kind of fell into the teacher world, and nine years later I'm here in Mexico. I was teaching in Canada for a few years and kind of felt a little bit of an inkling to go somewhere else and work abroad, and fate had it that I ended up in Mexico. In Mexico City, to be specific. I teach French here in the American school, and it's been a really nice ride coming down here.
Nice. Nice. I'm just curious ... I'm not curious. I know this already because I know you, but I'm sure the listeners are going to be a little bit curious because you are fluent, obviously, in English and you're teaching French. Did you learn French growing up or were you raised in French? What's the story there?
Well, actually, pretty much raised English in the household. My mother's family being English and my dad actually coming from a francophone background where they always prioritized learning English as well. He mostly talked to me in English as well. I've really got to, I guess, credit schooling over the years. I kind of went to Europe and fell in love a bit with French, and wanted to get better at it because we kind of grew up in a predominantly English neighborhood. Made some more French friends and got some French work experience, and just kind of gradually got better at the language just by immersion. What a chance we have in our city, Montreal, that you can kind of just decide to do that, and there's a whole French speaking world there. Eventually, over time I just became kind of good enough that I was able to teach some French second language and now I'm doing that here.
Yeah, it's amazing that we can do that. I'm actually doing that right now. I do a few lessons online a week because it's just easy to do it from my house, but then you can just go downtown and go into any bar or go anywhere and meet French people and practice, which is awesome.
You mentioned you're in Mexico now. We had a big, fun event on Friday. Trump was officially brought in as the President.
Yay. [crosstalk 00:02:58] Help us.
Yeah, exactly right. Help us, man. I'm curious, what was the sentiment that you felt where you live in the world when it was discovered that he was going to be the next President?
It was kind of really interesting, if I put it nicely, kind of experience. The night before ... Some of my closest friends here are American, and one of my buddies has a barbecue restaurant. It's kind of a Texan barbecue style kind of restaurant. It kind of became the headquarters for Democrats abroad in Mexico City, and so packed houses for the debates and then on election night everything kind of ... Let's just say the white, blue, and red balloons that were suspended from the ceiling didn't end up falling, so it was kind of pretty dim. People were in shock. People were reacting kind of harshly. I was mostly around Americans at that time.
Then in school the next morning, working at the American school in Mexico City with a predominantly Mexican student body, it was kind of one of the weirdest days I've ever had to teach because I kind of automatically had to put on the counselor hat. You just kind of heard every student's reaction. One of the girls walked into the class just saying, "We're all fucking screwed." First thing. "Hey, good morning. How are you doing, Isa? Come in take a seat." Some of the others were ... I was touched because one of the girls too, I remember her, Camilla, she was just ... She's a quieter kid, and she expressed to me, "I just don't understand why he hates us this much. How could this all be?" It was kind of like, "Whoa, this is real now," and this is really going to impact these students where they're 15, 16 years old in the coming years and their relationship with the United States. Because a lot of them go study in the United States and have family there. They have two passports.
I think it was kind of a very interesting place in a sociological kind of perspective to be the day after the election. Then Mexicans in general over here were just in disbelief. I guess they dealed with it pretty well in terms of just making fun of it. They've always kind of made fun of the things that they hate. A lot of pinatas went up, that's for sure.
Yeah, it's weird. I kind of thought it was going to happen, but I guess, for us living in Canada ... I wasn't surprised, and I always think, "Well, politics is not really about what's fair or what's right. It's about, I guess ..." To me it kind of swings back and forth, like left wing, right wing. Even under that assumption I just thought that he would win because we had Obama for eight years. Just like it went from Harper to Trudeau, and then it will probably go ... In my mind, it's going to go back to someone terrible. That's just how it is, right?
Oh, god. Yeah, exactly. That pendulum kind of thing.
I don't know. I guess it doesn't impact us like it does them because I think when he's elected people who are kind of ... Some Trump supporters think their racist beliefs are kind of justified now. You've seen a lot more outbreaks in racism and kind of hatred towards immigrants.
Yeah, definitely, and to their neighbors too. I think overall, Mexicans just feel ... I've never really been in some of the border states where there's that illegal immigration that takes place. I think it's even a different context than from where I live, but at the same time, we're definitely feeling the economic hit here. The peso dropped 20% the day of. Sorry, 12.
Wow. That's a lot.
Sorry. It dropped 12% the day after he was elected, and then recently there's been some gasoline related protests because the government here put the price of gasoline up by 20%, and so the peso fell again. I make pesos, so that's kind of shitty too. It's shitty for the whole country, really.
Yeah, it is shitty. What about Mexico itself? Mexico is a country I'm really unfamiliar with. I have a lot of Russian and Brazilian students online, and I know a lot about the political worlds that they live in. What about Mexico? Is it on the same scale of corruptness as all those other terrible things that happen in the world or is better?
I've been here about four or five years and I still haven't met a single person that's voted for the President at the moment, Enrique Peña Nieto. He's a bit of a tool. I think a lot of people, they know he's incompetent it's just he's like a puppet. He was a governor, but he's married to a soap opera star, and so they're just this kind of glamorous couple. He's good looking. A lot of the lower classes support him just because they take him at face value and they trust the guy. He's a younger guy. "Oh, he's going to care about us," but really anybody that reads pretty up to date stuff and is current with the pulse of what's going on in Mexico, he's just so poorly seen. It's a lot of corruption because it's just a few elite people at the top that really run the show.
There's been this movement to privatize the oil sector, which is also just different interest groups getting their fair share while the majority of the people are still in a situation where they're taken advantage of. Their tax money's not really going anywhere besides these bank accounts. I don't know if I would say it's as corrupt as some countries or not, but it's definitely a whole different kind of situation than it is in Canada that's for sure.
It's hard to understand unless you live in the country I think. There's this weird trend where almost all my Russian students are people who are preparing to live in a new country, so that's why they're polishing up their English. Sometimes I'm like, "How come I don't get ..." Actually, it's not true. I've had one or two Russian students who are really fond of their culture, and that's cool to meet because all the other ones seem to be like, "I just want to get out." Which is weird because we live in Canada, and Canada's the country that everyone wants to go to. You, yourself said, you worked in Canada for few years and then you wanted to leave. Not because you don't like Canada, but I think things just get mundane and you want to experience a cultural change and experience new things.
Yeah, I think it's a new era with globalization and internet. We get all these images and these accounts from people that have gone to different places. It's almost like people are a lot more keen, and it's definitely more accessible to go travel or move somewhere.
Julien, just before we finish up, I'm just wondering, what do you think is going to happen? What's your prediction into the future about how this election will effect ... I don't like to think American elections are going to effect the world, but I guess they're a pretty big military power. What do you think will happen? Do you think it will really change anything or do you think it's just a whole lot of buzz about nothing?
I guess I have a couple thoughts on that. I think it's affected my life in a lot of ways. I feel like I'm living in a new era, for sure. I'm a little concern of the whole protectionist movement that Trump's espousing. "More trade within the USA, and fuck our partners." That will definitely hurt Mexico if these trends continue where can just tweet and car companies decide not to set up businesses here or big [inaudible 00:11:05] It definitely feels worrisome here, and I'm sure in Canada there's a bit of that too with just our close trading relationship.
In some way, I feel like the Trump election is also a bit of an awakening. I think people have been very apathetic overall. You see voter turnout in different countries and it's pretty ... I know a vote doesn't solve everything, but I really believe people should vote. If you see people in other countries voting 55, 60%, well, no wonder someone like trump can come to power. I think civil society has to do a little bit more to ... Each one of us just a little bit to just awaken that, "Hey, if we really let things slide they're going to get worse, so you might have to be a little bit more active in some different ways I think."
Yeah, I agree with you totally. My whole mentality is I just don't think political leaders are really leaders. They're just ... In some ways our current leader is way better than our other one, and Obama was way better in many other ways, but even in his last speech there was a line he said where he's like, "We can't let countries like Russia and other countries win." To me, it's that mentality that they're pitting us against each other seems to be a huge ... It's so transparently wrong to me.
That's one of the most unnerving things too lately, is I feel like it's almost like governments want us to hate each other. Our next door neighbors too. It's just we're constantly being pushed around, I feel, and I'm little worried about that, but we can find ways around it hopefully.
I think I read somewhere that if there's no problems there's no reason for politics. It's almost like they need to create some issues for them to exist.
Yeah, for them to be real in our minds too, I guess.
Anyways, Julien, thanks so much for coming on here and helping me out with the podcast.
Great to be on it, man. All the best to you. Good luck with the podcast, and thanks everybody for listening in.
Yeah, and I hope that peso pops right back up sooner or later to help you out there.
Yeah, me too, man.
All right. Ciao, man.
All right, good to talk to you.