Last week, students in Rachel Koon’s Principles of Sociology class at BRTC were educated and entertained by student Carlo Obregon, a native of Mexico. “The class is currently discussing different practices and customs of other countries including such things as dating rituals, arranged marriages, religious practices, cultural symbolism, and class systems,” Koons explained. “Mr. Obregon was asked to give a speech on how these practices in his native Mexico compare to those of the United States.”
Obregon talked to the class about arranged marriage practices, the significance of Catholicism in his daily life as a child, the different class systems in his native town, and even how vastly different the jailing practices are as opposed to the U.S. At the age of 14, Obregon was “arranged” to marry another girl from a nearby town. The pairing was orchestrated by his grandparents and the young girl’s family based on their personalities and class status of both families. The young girl’s family had been watching Obregon since he was a young boy to learn about his personality. After years of observation, they decided his personality, along with his family’s wealth, would make him a suitable matc h for their daughter. At the time the marriage was announced, Obregon was courting another young girl whom he claimed to truly be in love with. His family was outraged by the relationship and demanded he marry the young girl they had “selected” for him.
After a few months of dating the selected young girl, he made up his mind that he was not going to marry her. This decision was unheard of at the time and both families were outraged. Shortly after his decision, around the age of 15, Obregon left his family’s ranch in Leon Guanajuato and set out for the United States with a few friends. After a few failed attempts at gaining citizenship, he finally became a citizen of the United States and has been here ever since.
Obregon also discussed the class systems in Mexico. As mentioned prior, he was born into a very wealthy ranching family who had many servants and workers of the house. This, however, did not stop him from having “lower class” friends. He described how he got into serious trouble from his grandfather because he was caught delivering newspapers. His “lower class” friends at the time had various jobs around town, so he decided he wanted a job too. When he was caught, he was punished and ordered to never work that kind of job again because “those types of jobs were meant for the lower class families.”
Catholicism was part of the Obregon family’s everyday lives. They went to church almost daily and that is where most of their social life occurred. Catholicism is still the primary religion in Mexico. “The jailing system in Mexico is vastly different than in the United States,” said Obregon. “The Mexican Jail System requires the inmates to pay for their incarceration on a daily basis, and the amount of money they are required to pay is based on the particular crime they committed. If they do not pay, they could go without a roof over their head and the possibility of no food or water.” He went on to explain that there are no means of entertainment, books, or other recreational activities in the Mexican Jail System like there are in the United States. “They are strictly there for punishment!”
“Students were highly entertained and engaged by Mr. Obregon’s lecture,” Koons stated. “They asked many questions and found the information to be a great example of the class material. I appreciate Mr. Obregon for sharing his story.”
Obregon is married to Norma Obregon, also a student at BRTC, and together they have seven children. Three of their children have also been students at BRTC. He is currently seeking a degree in Criminal Justice and “is a joy to have in class,” said Koons. “He brings his cultural heritage and ideas to each class and helps give other students a better perspective of the Mexican culture.”