Friday, January 13, 2012

Enrich yourself

If you are like me, you appreciate living in the US for its perks of freedoms, democracy, cheeseburgers, and baseball. But you also wish you lived close enough to other cultures allowing them to seep into your life enriching your soul and adding color to your existence. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. At the age of 9 I read a news paper article about a set of summer camps in Minnesota that immersed kids in foreign language and culture. My mother was able to find out who ran them {even without the internet} and off I went for a two week stint at French Camp. Five summers and 3 languages, including German and Chinese in addition to French, later, I learned quite a bit about how connecting with people from other parts of the world can satisfy one curiosity but almost always spark another. 

It is this spark I hope to pass on to my children while also keeping it well alive within myself. So how to do this with kids? In the States?
  • Have your kids start learning a foreign language. School curriculum be damned. You can just seek it out on your own. If you don't know of a connection in your area you can try searching for one at WyzAnt (wise ant). It is like SitterCity but for tutors. I am sure you could find someone looking to offer introductory foreign language instruction for children.
  • Send them to French Camp! Or Swedish, or Italian, or any of the 15 languages offered by Concordia Language Villages
  • A friend just sent me a link to what looks like a collection of awesome summer experiences for teens around the world. Overland Summer Programs seem to run the gamut but they have foreign language and field study programs in Europe, South American and Asia. Check 'em out if this seems up your alley. 
  • Look to your city's yellow pages to see if there are cultural centers. Boston has L'Alliance Francaise, Chinese Cultural Center, amongst others. They have programs for kids and adults alike.
  • Check to see if your local museums have cultural programs. A few of ours here will be putting on some fabulous Chinese New Year celebrations soon.
  • And finally, don't forget the power of food. There are tons of ways you can give your kids a tiny bit of cultural experience just at dinner. Dig deep into your heritage and cook some things from your elders. Learn how other cultures prepare, eat, and enjoy meals and try it at your house. 
Do you have any other ways of welcoming foreign culture into your home? I'd love to hear!


Joyce said...

Nice post and tips! Warm regards from Brazil! :)

Shannon said...

Thank you for stopping by Joyce and for your kind words.

Anna Roland said...

I also love learning about different cultures and think it is very important and beneficial to teach our children about other cultures! You could also have an exchange student come live with you for a summer or school year....

Jadz said...

I went to French camp in Minnesota too! Our family actually had 3 generations of campers: my aunt was in one of the first groups, then I went in the late '70s or early '80s (can't remember the exact year), and my son went a few years ago.

That said, the way I integrated French culture into my family was to marry a Frenchman and move here. : )

Liz E. said...

And don't forget the lifelong friendships that can result from the camp experience!