Tona (penpal in Guadalajara) wrote this in response:
"Before anything, I would like to say I am not judging you and I know it is not your classmates fault to believe that of Mexico because they have been hearing that for a long time but I would like say what life is really like in Mexico.
A lot of people wear hats like the ones you use in the US, not sombreros, some do use them because they are cheap and project an awesome shade against the sun.
Your classmates might think tacos and burritos are like the ones from Taco Bell, but they are nothing like that, that is junk food, Mexican tacos are DELICIOUS and NUTRITIOUS. We have international food from all around the world, however, italian food is really popular here.
I don’t know what your classmates mean about beaches, but they are beautiful and attract a lot of American people to go and enjoy them. Not everyone has mustaches, and if someone has them they are traditional and not salvage.
There are a lot of poor people, but not that poor! We have construction materials even though some houses end up not being finished.
El Paso (Taco Shell Brand)
We do not have a taco shell brand, we do not even have taco shells, in the US people use a lot of frozen food, in Mexico we use something called tortilla which is made so the tacos are nice and fresh.
Okay 'Mexican jumping beans' is not even the correct term. They only “jump” because the larva inside of the bean is dying. When cooked they are actually really good and used a lot in tacos.
Well there is a lot of Mexican food to eat to, but we don’t eat it all the time. Mexican food has been named the fourth most rich food in the world because of its diversity.
I just wanted to clarify that, and to your question I could pretty much answer the same way you have; but that wouldn't be true.
I am just going to tell what I have experienced with Americans not that it is what all Americans are like. Americans are nice and welcoming people. They sometimes are afraid of people from other countries and do not accept them. They like fast food. They believe too much in media and stereotypes."
Sarah Whitehouse, Ava’s teacher wrote that she “shuddered a bit when I read Ava’s stereotypes, but Tona really was able to answer them in a way to help Ava understand!” Brian Zink, Tona’s teacher, thought that the exchange “is a great example of the power of these discussions. Ava gave a list of what classmates thought of Mexico and Tona was able to respond and inform her perspective. I hope we can continue and encourage our students to have these deeper discussions and erase some of the stereotypes."