Posts tagged: multicultural

Dona Nobis Pacem (10 Ideas for Fostering International Understanding in Your Kids)

By , November 7, 2007 12:59 am

Sometimes I am a glass half-full type of person, and sometimes I am more inclined to be a glass-half empty type.

About peace…I think I am running on empty. I feel that throughout history there never has been peace. There never will be peace in the future either. It is just human nature to fight.

Religion, which is supposed to be all about peace (no matter what the religion), seems often to make matters worse. The Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. I’ll stop my brief list there so as to not get myself into too much trouble.

The glass half-full part of me says: “Hey, wait a minute! Why not start with the children?”

Well, why not start with the children? What an excellent idea. If all the world’s children could learn about and appreciate other cultures, races, and religions, then wouldn’t there HAVE to be peace?

Glass half-empty says: “There is no way to teach every child in the world these things!”

Glass half-full says: “Maybe not, but the way to start is with our own children. Let’s teach them about the beauty of diversity.”

Yes let’s.


Here are ten thoughts on how to do that:

1) Have your child learn a foreign language, either through their school or through home, online or language school study. The US is one of the only countries in the world where a child/adult can get all the way through school, and even college and beyond, without learning another language.

2) Take your children to local multicultural events such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Greek festivals, etc. Check your local paper for details.

3) Travel with your children, which leads to the next suggestion:

4) Get your child a passport now so that he or she can travel with you when old enough, and the opportunity for foreign travel arises. Passport processing is taking a long time these days, so why not simply put it on your to-do list and get it over with right away. (Most US post offices can issue passports and even take the passport photos, it is very easy). By the way, passports are now required for air travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, even for infants.

5) If your children are teens and are interested…let them be an exchange student. I did it as a teen (twice) and it totally changed my life!

Youth for Understanding (the program I used)

AFS Intercultural Programs


6) Host an exchange student in your home (it doesn’t have to be for a year, it can be a semester, a summer, or even less!) Check out links above, or Google “international student exchange.”

7) Get your child a penpal. Google “penpal” for some sites that can arrange this. Being the paranoid parent, I would check it out carefully first though before signing up. I would choose a “snail mail” penpal over an email one, and would monitor the whole thing very carefully. Check with your child’s school too. Often penpal arrangements can be made through a teacher at school. If a teacher has contact with a teacher in a foreign country, many times classes can exchange letters.

8) Go to the library and check out an international cookbook. Cook an exotic foreign meal together, talk a little about that country, and find it on the map or globe.

9) If you and your family are really in the mood for adventure, either rent a house in a foreign country or do a house swap. A house swap is where you trade a month in your house, for a month in someone else’s house for example. Sometimes the trade even includes the use of a car. There are many websites dedicated to rentals and home swaps. The classifieds in the back of alumni magazines are also a good source. Many college alums prefer to rent their foreign house or apartment to another responsible alum rather than a total stranger.

Here are some house swap websites (note: I am not personally familiar with any of these):

HomeLink International

Home Exchange

Home Xchange Vacation

10) And of course the simplest and cheapest way to expose your children to other cultures, is to read to them. Go to the library. Read multicultural books to your children. Check my International Children’s Book Day post for detailed suggestions of books and web links to books for some ideas.

For inspiration, here are some of our favorite multicultural/international books. The last one is a real eye-opener: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is geared more toward adults, but children will find it fascinating too, when read with an adult.

(For more info on two of these titles: I have written posts about Wake Up World, and Let’s Eat – plus another here about Let’s Eat)

Dona Nobis Pacem…Grant Us Peace – PLEASE!!!

Please visit Mimi’s Blog to find links to many, many, many more Peace Posts today.

Also, for more thoughts on peace, please visit my June Dona Nobis Pacem post.

International Music to Cook by (or For Any Other Time Really)

By , September 14, 2007 10:13 pm

Tonight we had our Friday Kids Cook Night which has fallen a bit by the wayside over the summer. My post today is not about Kids Cook Night however, but about the music that accompanies it.

I found the cassette version of Wee Sing Around the World (Wee Sing) for $2.99 last year in our grocery store bargain book bin, which, incidentally, has really yielded a surprising wealth of wonderful books! Unfortunately it is a tape and I have recently decided that we will definitely need a CD version due to all the use the poor old cassette gets.

I just found out that at Amazon, the CD and accompanying 64 page book is only $9.99, and is even eligible for the 4-for-3 promotion. I love that promotion. What a great excuse to by more fun books that I didn’t even know we needed! OK. So I am not exactly “simplifying my life” with this attitude, but it is all for my children’s sake really!

This collection consists of children’s songs from around the world. I count 40 countries on the list, most with one song, but the US has three (Native American, Native Hawaiian, and basic, classic kids’ song – “Eentsy Weentsy Spider”), India has two. When the songs are in a language other than English (as most are), then it is sung once in the native language and once in an English translation so we English-speakers can understand what it is about.

One of the things I like most about this collection are the introductions. Before each song the singer introduces him or herself by saying “Hello, my name is ____ and I am from___.” They first make their introduction in their native language, and then in English. So fascinating! I love hearing all the different languages, and so do my children. They often end up sitting on the kitchen counter top next to the speaker of our little counter top stereo so as not to miss a thing.

What a rare find, children’s music that I actually LIKE to listen to as much as they do. This is a very good thing since it is my 5 and 7 year-olds‘ favorite music, and has become our Kids Cook Night background music, and background music for many other moments as well.

The songs are all brief enough to accommodate short attention spans (even when sung in two languages). Since they hail from a wide range of different countries (Jamaica, Ghana, Iran, and Ukraine for example), they illustrate a variety of different musical styles.

One of the things that I hope to instill in my children is a sense of the beauty and variety of life around the world, yet the realization of how similar we all really are. I want them to understand for example, that while people from other countries might have different languages and different types of music, we all enjoy music and singing and dancing! I think that this collection is a great first step toward that very ambitious goal.

Photo thanks to and photographer clarita.

Kids Cook Idea – Moroccan Mint Tea

By , June 30, 2007 9:43 am

When I think of the word sweet I first think of my children. But since they are only sweet some of the time, my next thought is of something that is always sweet: Moroccan Mint Tea.

If you have never had it, I can tell you that it is very minty and so sweet as to be almost syrupy. Yum! It is fun to make with kids, especially if they grow the mint themselves (my 5 year-old son grew this), or at least harvest it from the garden themselves.

It is traditionally served in a pretty, colorfully painted glass and is always offered to guests as a symbol of welcome.

Here is my rather more eclectic version made in a Japanese cast iron teapot with mint from my Arizona garden and served in a Swedish Ikea glass. But the tea still tasted very good, and very sweet!

Recipe (I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but it tastes pretty much like I remember it):

2 tsp. green tea leaves

1 bunch spearmint leaves
4 – 6 tsp sugar (I use 6)

Place tea leaves in pot. Warm teapot by quickly rinsing tea with some boiling water then drain off water right away (use strainer to catch tea and return to pot if no strainer in pot). Add mint leaves to the tea in pot. Pour in enough boiling water for two small glasses. Add sugar to taste. It should be very sweet. Pour into glass, return to pot and repeat a couple of times. Drink hot.

The mint in the garden:


The ingredients:

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