5 Ways to Inspire Compassion for Other Cultures
For littles, simply looking at a map gives very little insight into how amazing and vast our world is. When we think about why it’s important for kids to grow up with multicultural immersion, one of the first things that pops to mind is compassion. We want them to learn that diversity is beautiful, and every culture is valuable. In fact, many parents choose to teach their children at home because we know that the greatest lesson lies within our character, and an important fragment of that is to teach understanding towards others that do things differently.
Bring the World into Your Kitchen
Food is an art. Many countries hold their dishes and meals to high esteem, or even sacred. For instance, Michael Pollan tells us that in Morocco, it is forbidden to cut your bread with a knife because it is considered violent. The Americanized versions of other cultures’ dishes are far different from and often the commercialized version of the authentic original. Find an authentic restaurant whether Vietnamese, Spanish, Cuban, Laotian and make it an experience! Better yet, find an age-old recipe and try your hand at it. Here is a list of eighty recipes from around the world to choose from.
Visit an International Market
Chances are, your city has some type of international market. Where I’m from, we have a lot of Asian and Hispanic food markets. Either way, find a store that has labels in different languages and try some new things! Many of them have even shipped exotic produce from the source country, which can be really fun. Some of my son’s favorite snacks come from the Japanese market down the road (he loves mochi and seaweed!). We get so used to our apples and PB&Js that we forget the vast variety of different palettes that exist beyond our reach.
Multi Cultural Media
This blog post has some exciting tools relating to this category! Even if you just put on some Bollywood music in the car, you are opening the door to whole other worlds! Cultures express themselves through their music and while it may sound very different from country to country, the foundations have many similarities (just like people!). In addition, there are tons of international films available online! This site is a GREAT resource for homeschoolers wanting to delve into the world of international films.
Get a Pen Pal from Another Country
As an extrovert, this one might be my favorite of all! There are many sites that facilitate this, but a couple popular ones are postcrossing.com and penpalworld.com. There, your kids can connect with other kids from all over the world based on their interests. Building a relationship with a real person from the country of interest helps children to gain compassion and understanding even further. As always, monitor the personal information your children include in their messages.
Learn Another Language Together!
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Oftentimes, other languages include words that the English language does not. For instance, here is a fun list of words in other languages that have no English equivalent! Not only is learning another language good for your children’s learning habits, but it opens their mind to how others view and describe the world around them. Think about how fun it could be to be able to speak to your fellow family members in Swedish, or Italian!
Regardless of what route you go, it is silly not to take advantage of the ease of access we have to learning about other cultures. In the age we live in, it is easier than ever to collaborate with the rest of the world.
What a great post! It is so important to instill understanding and compassion in our little ones. I have always believed that world travel does this... but it is so expensive. For people trying to raise well rounded kiddos, your ideas are so practical and attainable! Something as simple as an authentic meal can open up your mind. Thank you for sharing this, Amanda.