August 8, 2012

Mirror, Mirror- on the wall

Back by popular demand is guest blogger Naomi who has a United States passport, but considers herself a global citizen and currently lives in New Delhi, India.  Along for the great adventure is her husband, one teenage traveler, two little citizens and an Indian street dog.  She blogs about their life (including an upcoming relocation to Singapore) at Delhi Bound [http://delhibound.com].

My kids are participating in a bit of an informal summer reading program and one of the books we recently read was Mirror by Jeannie Baker.  The book discusses the similarities between two families on opposite ends of the earth.  Our family often gravitates towards books with global themes, but this was one of the first to make me question just how much cultural diversity my children are collecting from their experiences.

With our recent zip code history, you might think that we have ‘cultural diversity training’ checked off of the list, but I think we still have a ways to go.  Raising global citizens – inside of the four walls of our home – means that we strive to accomplish these six things :

First to train our children to accept diversity.  In their small world, this may mean being understanding of the child who stutters when they speak or the grocery store clerk that has a different skin color.

Not that it takes second priority, but a spirit of service is also crucial, whether that means following a spend/save/share motto with allowance money, or helping to ladle out broth at the local soup kitchen.

I also feel that a strong voice is so important.  Children often have some pretty great ideas about the world that they live in. Ideas of how to make things better and how to make people feel welcomed.  Developing a powerful (albeit respectful at the same time) sense of self and comfort level in speaking their mind and sharing their ideas, is an important piece of this puzzle.

General understanding of the geography of our world is simple if you use the resources at your fingertips (internet searches) and your library to open up the globe to your children.  The first step – if you don’t already own one – is to purchase a tabletop globe or a wall world atlas.  Another way to expand knowledge is to attend functions that celebrate geography, like a recent “All About Me” where children (and parents) dressed in their ‘national dress.’  Fun stuff.

statue of liberty costume

American national dress

Appreciation of the music and food that makes the world go ‘round.  We have had a couple of theme dinners in our dining room (complete with fitting food and music) and we are excited to do some more. Make the menu planning a family affair and break away from the expected Mexican, Chinese and Italian.

Caprese Salad

Making our own caprese salad

Bring it home by taking the next step. Invite someone from a different culture, nationality or country to your house for a play date, or out for a ice cream cone.  Explore your differences and marvel at your similarities.

The old adage says to give your children roots and wings, but equally as important is to give them the ability to accept and understand those who come from a different nest.