Tag Archives: cross cultural connections

January 21, 2013

A Call to Serve

Martin Luther King Jr and his daughter.

A softer side of MLK Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr once proclaimed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?”  So, how are your honoring MLK Jr and his legacy?  Twenty-seven years ago President Reagan signed MLK Jr Day into existence and catapulted a ‘can do’ and ‘will help’ attitude into the American radar.  This willingness to lend a hand has been celebrated in South Africa for many decades, centuries even.  Ubuntu is the idea that we are all interconnected and what happens to you happens to me.  Desmond Tutu defined it as when a human knows “that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated… the essence of being human.” We can’t live without each other and we need to help one another out.

The idea of generosity and the call to serve has struck a special chord in Tadatoshi Akiba’s heart (Mayor of Hiroshima from 1999-2011).  He loved the call to action so much that he declared MLK Jr Day a holiday.  This really is a global celebration.  How will your honor MLK Jr?  Share with us on Facebook.  Remember every day can be a day of service to your community.

Check out Tea School Days- a no brainer to raise money for your child’s school.

*Image courtesy of Family Goes Strong.

December 10, 2012

Cultural Connections: Holiday Horses

Horses have played a major role in the development of all cultures, maybe because they proved reliable creatures and friends. For the past three holiday seasons, we have featured horses on our girls’ tees. Take a trip down memory lane with us.

1. Old World Hungary Pony inspired by Hungarian reverse appliqué Christmas ornaments for tea’s Fall 2010 collection

2. Modern Mexico Flying pony inspired by Mexican alebrijes Fall 2011 collection.

3. Motif from Swedish Dala horse for tea’s current Nordic Design Collection. (image credit: ebay) Check out the Folk Sparkle girls’ tee.

We made a printable coloring page so you can create your own holiday horse ornaments!

November 29, 2012

A taste of Thailand: Bangkok

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Kelly and Cristy, part of our power house sales team, traveled to Thailand for the first time together. Read more about their adventures here.

First stop: Bangkok.

The song is right. One night in Bangkok WILL make a tough man humble! What a modern and bustling city. I think it must rival NYC as the city that never sleeps. What stuck out to us here was the contrast of how very modern the city was but with so much history and culture sprinkled through it. Looking out over the city from our hotel room were tall hotel buildings surrounded by small bazaars and restaurants…and every few miles you would see the amazing tips of a golden temple reaching up through the craze as if to say “Don’t forget me!”  Riding down the street in our Tuk Tuk we would pass busy merchants, 7 Elevens, and school children in uniform making their way home…..and then right in the middle of it all, a Spirit House cloaked in fresh flowers and a glowing candle no doubt recently lit by a very thankful Thai. Even walking through the markets crammed with vendors selling all types of food and wears you would be passed by monks in their vibrant orange robes making their way on some errand. Such an amazing contrast and a constant reminder of where the Thai people came from and what they hold sacred.

We were able to get in a visit to one our favorite manufacturers while in Thailand (think girls knit dresses and boys French Terry bottoms!). Mahin and Samsuk were kind enough to take us to dinner on our first night in Bangkok to ‘debrief’ us and make suggestions on things we shouldn’t miss while in Thailand. Their best suggestion, in our opinion, was the Weekend Market. Wow! This was a shopper’s paradise. This HUGE shopping market was filled with stalls of vendors selling anything from antiques to traditional Thai spices. This market had it all! My favorite was the contrast between vendors…one stall was selling ornate textiles made by hand and loom in the same fashion Thai’s have been making textiles for centuries and next to him was a very hip young woman selling these amazing clutches that she had made herself. Beautiful handmade leather clutches and wallets that had then been spray painted with designs or embellished with studs and embroidery. I’m bummed I didn’t buy one for myself. Kelly was excited about the stations for quick foot and back massages as we spent quite some time wandering this vast marketplace!

The food was amazing everywhere we went. I must admit that both Kelly and I brought granola bars from home on this trip just in case there wasn’t much for us to eat…neither of us eats very spicy foods
(although Kelly is MUCH more adventurous than I!). I’m very glad to report that any spicy-phobic’s out there need not worry. You are able to order everything ‘mild’. We ate very well and both brought most of our granola bars back home. I gained 5 lbs eating as much ‘Drunken Noodles’ as I could get my hands on….not a pretty dish but Holy-Heck was it flavorful!


October 17, 2012

Culture Shock in “Asia-Lite” Singapore

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Linh Tran, who recently moved to Singapore with her two kids, daughter age 3, son age 6.

Travel with Kids

Our family lived in the San Francisco Inner Sunset neighborhood where numerous Asian-Americans live.   Stroll down Irving Street, pass 20th Ave and see store fronts with names and banners in both Chinese and English.  You’ll hear people speak in different languages intermingled with English.  It’s much the same here in Singapore compared to the Sunset.  Perhaps that is why some people refer to Singapore was ‘Asia-Lite’.

travel with kids to singapore

Early in my career, I conducted cross-cultural training programs for families who were about to move abroad on an international assignment.  The night before each training, I would take a glass bowl and put a few large ice cubes in it.  ”Culture is like an iceberg,” I used to say, “On top the surface of the water are all the things we can easily identify that are different between the U.S. and your new home.  What might be different could be food, language, buildings, clothing, transportation, and people.”  I warned them at some point during their stay in X country, they’ll experience culture shock- that’s the larger piece of the iceberg that is below the surface that is not so obvious and will make you ask the question, Why.

Travel with Kids

Some claim that children adapt quicker and easily to new environments compared to adults.  My children don’t seem to shocked by many things so far here in Asia-lite, but they have certainly asked a lot of why questions:

Why do have I have to take my shoes off (at a public play structure)?

Why do they sell small packets of tissue (at a hawker stall)?

Why did you call him (the taxi driver) uncle?

Why is there no mac-n-cheese?

Why do they have Christmas lights up? Is it Christmas?

Why is do they look in my mouth with a flashlight?

Why are there octopuses with hats on the taxi?

Why is that leaf so ginormous?

travel to singapore with kids

To foster their curiosity whilst helping them through their temporary states of culture shock, we encourage them to be news reporters and ‘interview’ locals to get the answer to their why questions before using the internet.  Being only 6 and 3 years old, they usually get me to doing the questioning and do the internet search themselves  but I don’t mind because we do it together they are learning how to satiate their curiosity.   Hopefully, when we move back to San Francisco the signs in Mandarin will be less foreign to the kids and their experience living abroad fosters their global citizenship.

Travel with Kids

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.

November 17, 2011

Cultural Connections: Tigers

1st row: early Tea design, traditional Chinese paper cut tiger

2nd row: Tea’s design, Japan Fall 2009, “Tiger Mask” Japanese anime character

3rd row: Tea’s design, Korea Spring 2010, Korean tiger stamp

4th row: Tea’s design, Old World Hungary Fall 2010, lion from Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

5th row: Tea’s Design, Barcelona Spring 2011, Barcelona street art

6th row: Tea’s design, Modern Mexico Fall 2011, Mexican jaguar

I can’t believe that I am designing my 8th season at Tea!  Time flies when you’re having fun! The more seasons I design, the more connections I see through the different cultures we’ve visited for inspiration. One obvious connection is the importance of tigers. Some cultures may not specifically celebrate tigers, but every country we have visited has some large cat that is important to their identity. I find it so interesting to see the differences and similarities in the ways foreign civilizations celebrate the same subjects.

Be sure to check out our tiger pinboard on pinterest, showing tigers interpreted by artists from all over the world.

learn more about Barcelona Tiger, Old World Hungary Lion, Modern Mexico Jaguar