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Covering the Election with Esteban Roman

November, 2012

Esteban Roman, IEC Echange Visitor of the Month, November 2012

Esteban Roman is a journalist from Mexico now training in Miami, Florida.


What are the differences between journalism in the US and Mexico?

The quality level of journalism is different here from Mexico. In Mexico, election coverage is about recording and publishing what the candidates say. Here, some journalists and media outlets try to go beyond that. There’s a fact-checking tradition here. There's a drive to see if what the candidates say is really accurate.
As part of my training program, I was able to participate in organizing a gathering of students at the University of Miami to ask questions of Obama and Romney. I helped to do some research so that the news anchors could ask questions based on facts, not opinion.

What’s different between US and other cultures?

I’ve been in many countries and there’s a sense of public domain. Here, you have to pay for everything. You have to pay for parking and you can’t get a bus everywhere. There’s a lack of public transportation, except in cities like New York. In Sweden, people think that having a car is a bad thing, because it contributes to pollution. In the US, economic growth and personal development is tied to car ownership.

Where would you like to visit in the US?

I would like to go to a place like Wyoming of Kansas. Not a big city, but a little town.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I live in South Beach. I like to go running on the beach. You can’t do that in Mexico, because it’s unsafe. Here, I feel safe all the time. In my free time, I go to new places with my friends, watch cultural movies, visit the shops and restaurants at Lincoln Road. I also participated in organizing an art walk event (parade of artists) and attended a Miami Heat basketball game.

How have you been able to share Mexican culture with your friends here?

I brought chocolate skulls to friends for Dia de los Muertos.

What do you miss from Mexico?

Only food. Tex-Mex is completely different from Mexican food. The tacos are crunchy here! You would never see that in Mexico. But I do like the way people in Miami make enchiladas—like lasagna with cheddar cheese.

Do you have any advice for other J-1 exchange visitors in the United States?

1.    Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because people here might assume that you understand what they are saying. Let them know when you’re not coming from the same cultural context.
2.    Watch out for the prices. Sales tax! Usually, in other countries, the price displayed in the store is the actual price.
3.    The rules of the road are not very logical if you’re not from here.

What do you think of Miami?

Many people here warned me that Miami is not really the US. Miami is a great place to get to know Latin America. It is like the capital of Latin America because the people of every Latin American country are represented here. There are not many Mexicans, but lots of Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans.

Miami is known as the “capital of shallowness”. You hear about plastic surgery, luxury cars and huge amounts of money. But actually, that’s not true. If you really get to know many different types of people in different areas of Miami, the people who have to work hard every day to make a living, you will find that there is more to Miami than beaches, sand and night clubs.