Category: Multicultural Identity

Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie: Raising Bicultural Children

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Below a real-life scenario in our home:

 

The World Baseball Classic is on.  United States vs. Puerto Rico are playing the final game to see who will be the champions.  Puerto Rico has been playing seven undefeated games through out the season and United States actually lost a game to them.  I have been pumped, excited, and cheering like a crazy woman, “¡Wepa!” during all of the games.

On that last game,  when they announced the Puerto Rico team my child started cheering them on! He too is saying “Wepa!”  I’m like, “¡Vamos Puerto Rico!”  Then the United States team is announced, and my child says, “Boo, boo!” and for a split second he stops.  He looks at me confused, and says, “Wait a second Mamá!  I’m from United States, too! Why am I saying ‘Boo’?”

At that moment, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud! I said, “Yes, papi (Puerto Rican term of endearment) you are from United States, but you’re also Puerto Rican (because of me). You should feel proud of both teams, but in this game we’ll be rooting and cheering on for Puerto Rico!”

It was in that moment that I realized that I have been doing a good job on raising a bicultural and bilingual child.  A child that although has never lived in Puerto Rico, feels a deep connection to the island, to the culture, and to the people.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  I received a complimentary copy of this book for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.  Read my full disclosure here

 

However, getting to this point wasn’t easy.  Many times, I found myself at a crossroads between balancing two cultures for our son. Not knowing how to raise a bicultural child I created heritage board for him when he was 3 1/2 years old.  I was desperately looking for ways for him to connect with both cultures; and at times felt that one would “take over the other” (which is not true).  My son is a true Southern boy!   For instance, why does my child insist on having gravy on his arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas).  Whaaaaat?!  Ha! I struggled with this but soon came to realize that his upbringing is bicultural. He will always have a good dose of his African American culture because we live in the U.S.A. but it is up to me to make sure he has an equal dose of his Latino culture as well.

 

Back in 2008, I wish I had the book Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie by Maritere Rodriguez Bellas. In Chapter 3, Maritere explains that it is possible to balance two cultures.  It is inevitable when raising bicultural children. Remember my dilemma about finding a balance?

 

This is the Latino parenting book I needed when my baby was born!

 

Maritere’s book is a compilation of stories collected throughout the years, and she too shares her own struggles as well. This book is for the immigrant mother, for the second or third generation Latino parent, for the single Latino parent or any one who is raising bicultural children.  Another chapter that really touched me was Chapter 6.  I love how she talks about disciplining your children bi-culturally.   How we questioned how our own parents disciplined us, yet we are like them; and how to find the perfect balance.

 

You will find topic like this, and much more in every-single-chapter.

 

Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie will make you laugh, will make you smile and will make you feel that you’re not alone in this bicultural  journey. It is a Latino parenting book with resources, tips, anecdotes, and of course, the author’s very own arroz con pollo and apple pie recipes.

Clikck here to learn more about the author Maritere Rodriguez Bellas.

 

 

Multicultural Resources for Raising World Citizens

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When my baby was born (8 years ago) I was sure of one thing. I wanted to raise him to embrace his multiculturalism, and to become a global citizen. 
Besides, exposing him to foods, and books from other countries I also rely on resources such as the Diversity Calendar and Games Around the World that I am featuring today. These are resources  you can use to help you raise a world citizen. 
Here are my go-to resources for raising world citizens at home, and in the classroom:
Becky from Kid World Citizen has a Diversity Calendar that can be found here. While I realize that this is for the academic calendar year, and it is December you can still use this for this month, and the rest of the year. I love that this calendar has all of the major world religions, and it also includes fun holidays like Penguin Appreciation Day next month, and International Polar Bear Day in February among many more: 
  • multicultural and ethnic festivals
  • religious holy days from all major religions
  • environmental days to celebrate and honor our planet
  • United Nations International Days such as “Global Youth Service Day“
  • fun holidays that celebrate friendship, empathy, and kindness
I love this calendar, and now each month you have the holidays, festivals, and celebrations listed by dates.  It’s easy to follow, and a real-time saver.  Perfect for the classroom or for you homeschool. Who knew there was an International Polar Day in February? You can get your Diversity Calendar here
Have you ever wondered how to play games from around the world, and had no clue where to look? Julie from Globe Trottin’ Kids has an amazing resource with Games Around the World which includes: 
  • a summary table. Plan for the materials or equipment needed to play each game, as well as the best setting to play (indoor/outdoor) and the number of children needed to play.
  • a world map. Students keep their own copy to track the countries they have played games from.
  • 35 instruction cards. The colorful cards, decorated with the country’s flag, include clear instructions to prepare and play the game, its country of origin, and printables when necessary.
  • 8 extension activities. Students compare games, invent a new game, research other games, and more!
I love her games!  These can be used in the classroom, or homeschool.  I would also venture to use them in cultural playdates, or parties.  When planning a lesson on Ghana, Japan or Australia play  one of the games, and the kids will love it!

Want to know more about Games Around the World? Click here
Disclosure:  I received electronic copies of both resources for purposes of this review. I did not received monetary compensation for my review.  All opinions are my own. 

15 Things That Only People Who Live Far Away From Their Families Will Understand

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For many years when I was single I would move back-and-forth from my mom’s home in Puerto Rico to the U.S.A. or vice versa. I could book a flight, and be with her and my extended family whenever I wanted to.  Living far away was not an issue.

Nevertheless, when you get married, and have children it’s not as simple as hopping on to a plane or having your whole family come and visit you.  
Many times, I have found myself alone with my li’l family during important events in our lives: little one’s baptism, his PreK graduation, birthdays, holidays, and more.  
I remember little one’s baptism, and at the time I didn’t know anyone here.  My extended family couldn’t come; and the only people during the ceremony were my in-laws, hubby, and the baby’s godparents (my sister and brother-in-law), and their toddler.  After the ceremony we went home and hubby barbecued, and that was that. 

I remember calling my mom and I was just sobbing, wishing she and the rest of the family were here with me. She told me, “Mi’ja no siempre vamos a estar presentes, ese es el precio de vivir lejos de la familia. Serán muchas las fiestas y celebraciones que no pasaremos juntas.”   (My daughter, we won’t always be present. That’s the price to pay when you live away from your extended family. There will be plenty of holidays, and celebrations that we won’t spend together.)

Her words though true, hurt deeply.  

It’s been almost ten years now, and I still miss my family. However, you get used to it, but now it doesn’t hurt as much.  

Which brings me to the 15 things that only people who live far away from their families will understand. Brought to you directly from the mouths of parents from across the world: 

  • It’s hard for kids to understand why family who lives faraway can’t be there for big moments (or even small moments that feel big to our kids.) – Robbie 
  • It’s not distance that determines the strength of a relationship. –  Amanda 
  • Makes you appreciate family rather than taking them for granted. – Lisa 
  • Family time is quality time. – Lisa 
  • Our children always look forward to family visits, no matter when or where they are. – Lisa 
  • Being away from your real family makes it hard to be present in their lives. – Johanna 
  • I feel that I have to catch up every time I have the chance to be with them. – Johanna
  • The hardest for me was when I wasn’t able to be at my grandfather’s funeral. – Johanna
  • Being so far apart and with the visits so few and far between, you need to seek out every moment with them. Especially parents when you have children of your own. –  Fariba 
  • Thank God for Facetime! – Fariba 
  • When you live far away you learn to enjoy every moment you actually get with your grandchildren/nephews/nieces to the absolute maximum. – Stephen 
  • Our few weeks together per year feel more meaningful than the short day visits we used to have before I moved abroad. Time together is so much more precious now, and we always try to make the most of it. – Svenja
  • One thing I think we all understand is the joy we feel when we are back in each other’s arms. Yes, there’s always dysfunction in every family. But, the contentment of just being together trumps any negativity. – Lisa 
  • I think that it’s still possible to be close to your family even if you aren’t physically close to your family. I also think that we learn that we can really have a fulfilling life even though we aren’t physically close to our family, that our friends matter a lot. – Ann
And, last but not least from yours truly:
  • Your friends become your “family”. A family bound not by blood but by friendship. – Frances 
What else would you add to this list?  
A special thank you to the bloggers for their contribution to this post! 

Looking Back on the 2014 Popular Posts on Heritage, Culture, and Language

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As the new year comes to an end I’m looking at my popular posts, including one that is very dear, and near to my heart.  However, this parenting post will be revealed on January 2nd.  So stay tuned! In the meantime, read the popular post on heritage, culture and language.

Heritage 
This post Growing Up Black During the Segregated Era Interview With My Son’s Grandparents is a very special post. Mainly because one of the reasons that I started writing this blog was, and is for my son. When I embarked on interviewing my in-laws, it was important to me that he hear from his own grandparents the struggles they had living and growing up in the segregated era. 
Culture 
Living in a small town that doesn’t offer multicultural events  has me conjuring up ideas in which I can expose my son to diversity, and culture.

These cultural play dates, and parties have played an important role in exposing him, and his friends to different cultures, such as: Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and Three Kings Day from 2013. 

This year the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta, and Winter Kwanzaa Celebration have been just as popular! 
This past summer we also had the opportunity to review the MKB World Soccer Cup 2014 Activity Packet, and we learned about the participating countries.

As a contributor to +Multicultural Kid Blogs my all-time favorite post is the Back to School for Multicultural and Biracial Kids post. A simple guide with tips for parents, and teachers on transitioning multicultural and/or biracial kids back to school. 

Language Learning 
In my never-ending quest to raise a bilingual, and biliterate child I have ventured in making free printables of materials that I’ve used for him: Foot Book Spanish Activity {El Libro del Pie}, Museum Scavenger Hunt Printable in Spanish, and Demolition Children’s Book with Free Printable Spanish Activity.

I’m looking forward to 2015!  May you have a wonderful, and prosperous 2015! 

My Bilingual and Bicultural Story: A Second Generation Latina

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As a young girl, I was always fascinated with multiculturalism, diversity, and learning another language. I proudly boasted that I was half Puerto Rican, and half Ecuadorian. My first crush at age 12 was with a Black boy, and when I graduated from middle school I was looking forward to high school so I can learn French! At home we spoke Spanish, and in school we spoke English so I wanted to learn a third language. Did I mention that I also wanted to travel the world!? 
However, Mamá had other plans for us. We relocated to Puerto Rico! We moved when I was 13, my little sister 11, and our baby brother was 5 yrs. old. I was crushed! My plans for learning a third language went down the drain, and we were in a 100% Spanish speaking country, at home and at school. We didn’t have the financial resources to pay someone to teach me French, or the transportation to go the language learning center in the big city capital of San Juan.

My siblings and I (8 yrs. old) little sis (6 yrs. old)
& little brother (1 yr. old) when we first visited Puerto Rico. 

Although we could speak, and understand in our Spanish native language, we didn’t know how to read in Spanish. We were bilingual, but not biliterate.  We  learned English during our school years living in the United States.  So my sister, and I promised to always speak to each other only in English so we wouldn’t forget.

Although we knew the language,  we had a hard time adapting to a full Spanish immersion environment.   We learned how to read in Spanish when we started school in Puerto Rico. I had a hard time learning Spanish grammar, and, how and when to use accents on words.   It was a nightmare! Nevertheless, we succeeded and graduated from both high school, and college from Puerto Rico.  I’m proud to say that today my sister is an ESL Teacher, and is traveling the world with her husband, our brother is bilingual (Spanish/English) living in Puerto Rico with his family. 

As a second generation Latina now living in the United States I am truly proud of who I am, and where I come from.  I love having the ability to speak, and write in two languages; and to celebrate both my American and Latin cultures.    I married the most wonderful Black man in the world, and I’m instilling in our child a foundation of love and values on which his future life will be built by learning his heritage language; and embracing his multiculturalism.

Are you Native American, Mexican or Indian?

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You’d be surprised how often I get asked this question!

Like they say in Puerto Rico, “¡Esa es la pregunta de los 64 mil chavitos!”  The literal translation is “That is the 64 thousand pennies question.”  The statement literally means that the person has asked a somewhat complicated question at least in my case. 🙂  

“Where are you from?” {Big sigh!}   When I answer Puerto Rico I get puzzled looks followed by another question. “Where is that?” {Huge sigh with a smile!} Then I go on to explain that it’s a small island in the Caribbean.  Believe it or not, I get asked another question! “Was it hard to get your green card?” Ha!!! I literally laugh at this question! Especially when it was asked by a professional colleague of mine. I was like, “Wow! Did she just really ask me that question?”  
I explain to my very professional, and educated colleague that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and that we’re a commonwealth. Anyone born on the island is a U.S. citizen, and we do not require green cards or passports to come to the U.S.A. 
I remember walking into a  book store one day. This lady is staring at me, and very bluntly asks,  “What tribe do you belong to?” I was like, “Excuse me?” I was totally clueless about what she was talking about! She asks again, “Yes, what Native American tribe do you belong to?” 
Another day I was at the library speaking to my child in Spanish. A group of girls (teenagers) were watching us. One of them approaches me, and asks,  “Are you Mexican?”  Then on another occasion, an older man asks, “How long ago did you move here from India?” 
These are just some instances that I recall being asked where I was from.  Most of the time, I get glances, double takes, and stares…especially when I’m with my husband and child. I literally “stand out” wherever I go. I’m a tall Latina woman that hails from New York, but has Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian parents. Married to an Afro American man, and we have a son.  
We’re a biracial, bilingual, and very multicultural family! 
I guess this comes as a result of living in a small predominantly Black/White southern town in the U.S.A. In all honesty, it doesn’t faze me at all being questioned where are from or what am I. They ask this question because of my looks, or because of my accent when speaking in English.

I can answer by telling them I’m from (town where we live), but I know my answer will not suffice their curiosity.  So I’m happy to oblige, and educate them!

However, being questioned where I’m from or what am I so frequently brings me to think of our beautifully mixed son.  He’s just 5 yrs. ago, and I’m teaching him to embrace his biracial, and multicultural identity with pride.  So when the question of “los 64 mil chavitos” arises he’ll be able to answer with pride! 

This post has been written for inclusion in the Multicultural Carnival hosted by Stephen Greene from Head of the Herd

Growing Up Black During the Segregated Era {Interview With My Son’s Grandparents} Part I

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This is part one of a series that has truly and profoundly touched me. I’ve had the opportunity to interview both my son’s grandparents on his Daddy’s side. Being able to look through old pictures, talk to them, and research this sad and unfortunate time in the history of the segregated South in America, has been a personal eye-opening experience.
For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to write for my son a special post about his African American/Black heritage. Though sadly enough my son’s Black ancestry has a dark history of oppression that needs to be shared from his grandparents own unique perspective.
What better way to do so during Black History Month, and to teach our son his heritage through his grandparents, their history, also his story. My son is so blessed to have both his grandparents on his Daddy’s side alive, and well to share their story.
They were born in the South during the 1930’s in the midst of the Great Depression, and racial segregation. I interviewed both of them to get a perspective of what it meant growing up Black during the segregation era, and Civil Rights era.
They will be sharing their own personal struggles, and life changing events that made them into the persons they are now. Amidst the segregation they were still able to further their education, and pursue a college degrees. My mother-in-law obtained a bachelors degree from Tuskegee University, and masters degree from New York University. My father-in-law went a step further and obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Miami, a master’s from Columbia University, and he obtained his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College. The same university Martin Luther King, Jr. went to.
Top mother-in-law, and father-in-law
bottom left to right: father-in-law’s mother, and mother-in-law’s parents with hubby as a baby.
They both met in Alabama and married. Many years later they had a son who was born on the same year  that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 banning segregation, and discrimination.
They are currently both retired professionals enjoying their only grandson, our son.
Today’s interview is with my mother-in-law. My baby’s grandma.
Tell me about your ancestors, and parents? 
My great grandfather on my mother’s side was a slave. He lived and worked as a house slave and lived on the plantation in Winnsboro, South Carolina. He worked to live on the land he was living on. When President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate state “are, and henceforward shall be free.” He was free to go. However, he chose to stay since his master granted him the land that he earned working as a slave. He was very liked by his masters. This land was in fact inherited by my mother who was born in 1900.
My Mom was a nurse she worked in the neonatal unit at the hospital. I was the only girl amongst four children. I had all brothers.
My Dad worked in steel mill. He was good at his job, and it was a mixed mill with both Whites, and Blacks working there but they weren’t allowed to work side-by-side. He went to school in Tuskegee. His job was to straighten steel bars. He was really good at it, and they’d call him all the time. He couldn’t get promoted, but he got paid good money. He worked all his life in the steel mill.
Growing up did you ever feel there was a disadvantage growing up Black? 
Yes, we couldn’t do things that White folks did. Arthur and I were just talking about the Christmas parade when we were growing up. They would take us to see a White Santa riding by, and he was throwing candy at the White kids. He never threw candy at us, we were just there staring. We were just happy to be there.
In the restaurants we couldn’t go in either. We had to go back in the alley,and order from a special window for people of color; and wouldn’t dare to drink water from a White fountain. There was one for the Whites, and another for the colored folks.
Everything was segregated we couldn’t go to the fair, like you take our grandson. They only had one day where Blacks could go. I never went Mama just took one of us,  our oldest brother. There was also only one pool for Blacks, there were many pools for Whites. It was far from home, and we had to take the bus to get to the pool.
Speaking of buses. When I was teenager they had these boards on the bus (we called them street cars) that read “color.” They might have been 6 feet long, and you had to walk behind the board all the way to the back and sit. Then in my early 20’s that’s when the Rosa Parks movement started because Rosa didn’t find a seat in the back. At the train station there was also a “Color” side, and a “White” side.
As an adult going to go the theater and watch a movie we had to go upstairs. This also reminds me of something else shopping. Even in the 1950’s when I was working you’d go to these nice department stores you couldn’t try on anything. You have to purchase it, take it home, and then return if it didn’t fit. Don’t dare put anything on your head either.
Your Dad was Black but had fair (white) skin color; do you think life was easier for him because of that? 
I guess it was easier for him as long as they didn’t see him with us. For instance, if we were with him they’d knew he was Black. Every time we traveled by car in the South we couldn’t use the bathrooms. He could use the bathroom but we had to hide in the car. Then he’d tell us, “All right I’m coming up in a corn field.” So all of us can “go.”
Did you have any contact with White folks? White friends when growing up? 
Oh, no never! We could get arrested. I didn’t want to get arrested.
Fast forward to this day and age because today we’re celebrating Black History Month. Do you think there still exists racism, and segregation to a certain degree? 
Yes, if you’ve grown up in this you just feel it, and maybe this person would be all right but you can walk into a room with a group of Whites you just feel like you don’t “belong.” A few years ago, my brother, his girlfriend, and I drove to Mississippi. We were looking for a restaurant, and pulled up and got out. We walked in, and it got quiet all of sudden all these Whites turning their heads and looking at us. However, the restaurant waitress, and everyone else that worked there was so nice. When we walked in we just got that “feeling” {she shakes her} it’s a strange feeling.
I remember when I was in graduate school, my brother was coming back from Korea; and on his way he would come back through New York. I was living at the “Y” that was my first time living away from home, and I told him that I’d get a room for him at a hotel. I called and reserved the room. When we got there they asked our name and they looked at us; and told us no. This was during the summer of 1953 in New York. We had to run around, and look for a room for him.
Even today, there are Black and White churches in town. Not because of the segregation, but it’s how it is. I wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting an all-White church. It’s a strange feeling, and it’s there.
How did you feel when Barack Obama won the presidency as the 1st Black president of the US? {Smiles, and waves her hands up in the air} Woo! Oh boy! It’s a wonderful feeling.
Although the president is ½ Black, and ½ White, he’s considered and viewed as a Black man. You have a grandson who is ½ Latino and ½ Black how do you think the world will view him as?
He’s going to be viewed as Black, and he’s a good looking Black; and a smart one.
What would you tell your grandson if he asked you, “Grandma what am I?” 
You’re my grandbaby! You’re my little apple dumpling, that’s what you are! {Laughs out loud!}
Can you give your grandson some words of wisdom, about racism and prejudice? 
Give people a chance to prove themselves; whatever they say they are. Sometimes your first encounter could be different after you get to know them.
What advice would you give him? 
Just to believe in himself, and whatever it is that he’s striving for or if he thinks he can do it no matter how they “other people” look at him try anyways. I like to be independent, and if they “other people” don’t want me I don’t let that drag me. I just say goodbye. Go on and do your own thing. I want him to be honest. It’s important for him to be an honest man.
How do you feel about interracial relationships, and about me? {I asked her to be honest. I’ve been married to her son for 6 years so whatever she said wasn’t going to bother me.}
{We laugh!} I just had a lump in my chest. I was where did he find her? I didn’t know you. It’s like I tell my grandson get to know the person first; but I was shocked! I wondered why he couldn’t find a Black girl to marry, but deep down it’s not all that. It’s my son’s decision who he wants to be with.
Why were you shocked? 
They’d be saying that Puerto Ricans would cut you all up, and I was thinking Lord, I don’t want you stabbing on my baby. {Everyone laughs!}
I asked her where in the world did she get that from! She has no idea, and that’s what she’s heard. I will probably have to do a little bit more research and see where this negative perception of Puerto Ricans is coming from.
After the interview we looked through old pictures. I thanked my mother-in-law for her time, and then went on to interview my father-in-law. You’ll read that interview in an upcoming post.
My thoughts and reflection
It is our responsibility as parents to educate and teach our generation of the struggles of their ancestors. With that being said, this blog is a cultural journal for my son. For him to embrace, and be proud of his unique Latin and Black heritage. It’s an open letter for when he’s older so he can read, and learn how special he truly is.

March Multicultural Kids Carnival: Teaching Heritage To Your Children

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Source: Microsoft Office On-line Clip Art

Teaching Heritage To Our Children
This carnival is part of a very diverse group of globally minded multicultural moms around the world. Every month we have a theme, and this month’s Multicultural Carnival’s theme is “Teaching Heritage To Our Children.”  
I was thrilled with the theme for the multicultural kids blogging carnival, because one of the reasons why I started blogging is to use it as a resource to educate on race, culture, and diversity to my child. I have a post on teaching my son heritage here.

However, I want to share an excerpt of my post: 

“His heritage is his identity, and I pray that teaching our little one of where he comes from will help him embrace his individuality. Creating a sense of pride, of belonging, and knowing where he comes from will promote his character growth, and enable him to defend himself against prejudice and racism. Where he lives will not solely determine his identity, but so will his parent’s contribution on passing on his heritage.”  

The group’s main focus is on raising global citizens. So how do they teach heritage to their children?

Teaching heritage to your family
Celebrating a 15 year anniversary proves that living in a bicultural family works especially when both spouses are committed to keeping their culture and heritage alive. Annika from Journal of a Bilingual family shares how she celebrates their 15 yr. bicultural anniversary, and her accomplishments on teaching heritage to their daughters in their French and Finnish family.

What I especially love about her post is how this family keeps in touch with their Grandmother who in turns shares with them stories of their Dad’s family traditions via Skype! As a family they always root for both countries, celebrate bicultural holidays, and make sure to watch French movies.  Annika’s wish is that their daughters feel both French and Finnish, not half this and half that.  I think she’s doing a pretty good job at that! To read more about this wonderful family, and how they teach heritage to their children go here.
Teaching heritage through story time and play 
There is no better way for small children to learn about another culture than through learn and play. This is exactly what Leanna from All Done Monkey has done by hosting a playgroup to celebrate Costa Rica’s Independence Day. The book she used for story time was The Parrot Tico Tango set in Costa Rica’s jungle. The best part of the story time was that she had an activity to go along with it. It was very interactive, and hands on! Not only was she teaching heritage to her son, but she was also teaching her son’s friends about his heritage through story time, and a fun game! Check out all of  the fun details, and the activity linked to the story book here.

Teaching heritage by honoring ancestors 
A beautiful way to teach heritage to your children is by remembering & celebrating your ancestors. Kristen from Toddling in the Fast Lane is passing on to her daughter the memories of her grandparents by creating a Day of the Dead Mini-Altar in honor of her grandparents. (El Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition and celebrated in many countries in Latin American.) 
What really touched me about her post is how she created this mini altar with such love, and care. She took into consideration every single detail for the altar; from the picture, to the flowers, and  to having her daughter decorate the sugar skulls. It was a labor of love beautifully created by both mother and daughter to remember their ancestors. To read more about how Kristen teaches heritage to her daughter  by celebrating  “El Día de los Muertos” click here

Teaching heritage as adoptive families

Becky from Kid World Citizen has a wonderful post with 14 ways to incorporate birth culture to adoptive parents. What I like about this list is that any parent who wants to teach heritage to their children can use it as well. I absolutely love her list, and I want to share two that really “popped” out to me as I read her list: 1) Become part of the community and 2) Host culture at home. For both of these you need to reach out to others in order to teach heritage to your children, and sometimes step out of your comfort zone. These plus more awesome ideas and suggestions to incorporate culture heritage to your children can be found here.

Teaching heritage as educators
Annie Besant wrote an interesting article on behalf of Global Kids Oz with tips on being a great multicultural teacher. I love how she simplifies it by following four simple steps: 1) Do your research, 2) Understand the family, 3) Learn about their taboos, and 4) Symbols.
Source: Microsoft Office On-line Clip Art
Today we have so many multicultural families that everyone with or with out kids should follow these four simple steps. We all need to educate ourselves on other’s heritage and culture. This will help to avoid discrimination, racism, and bigotry.  To read the full article click here. 

Teaching heritage through food 

Varya from Little Artists has shared that her family has their own culture by adapting the best of the heritage from both sides of the family. However, there is one thing she really enjoys about her Russian heritage that she wants to pass on to her children, and that is cooking and eating!

Cooking for family and friends during special occasions is a big deal. This process takes a few day of prepping, cooking, and freezing to cook later. I love how Varya is teaching heritage to her children through food, and gatherings of family and friends. These are memories that will last a lifetime! Varya is right on track to teaching her children about this wonderful heritage! To read more about how Varya teaches heritage to her children click here.
How do you teach heritage to your children? Please share, like, pin and/or comment! We would love to know! 


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Traditional Southern New Years Day Dinner

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We’re kicking off the new year in true Southern style! My mother-in-law has graciously cooked for us a New Years Day dinner. The menu was white rice, black-eyed peas, sweet potato casserole, chitterlings (pig intestines), collard greens, baked chicken (normally this would not be included in the new years day dinner,but since little one and I don’t eat “chit’lins” mother-in-law made it for us),  and corn bread.  For dessert she made a yummy apple dumplings.

This is not just your ordinary everyday dinner, this is the dinner to have on new years day.  For southerners black-eyed peas represents good luck, and increases prosperity in the new year, and the collard greens represents green dollar bills. The corn bread represents gold, and the pork represents progress. How interesting!  I made sure we had plenty of those served on our plate!  When I served little one’s plate and  saw the black-eyed peas he said, “Yumm, I love black-eyed peas!” 🙂  Good! He’ll have lots of good luck and prosperity.

My mother-in-law shared stories of when she was growing up how her dad would buy the hog jowls (whole hog head) to cook and they would get plenty of good meat from it.  They would use that meat to cook with the collard greens and black-eyed peas.  It was a feast indeed!
Traditional Southern New Years Dinner
Collard greens with ham hocks.
Black-eyed Peas.
Chitterlings.
Little one clowning around and enjoying new years dinner with Grandpa.
Our new years day dinner was delicious, tasty (my mother-in-law can cook) and full of stories.  I must say I was quite impressed on this new tradition. In Puerto Rico we really don’t have a “new years day dinner” since we just go all out on new year’s eve.  This is a new tradition to be included in our multicultural familia, and one that we’re bound to enjoy for years to come!

I’m hoping that after this delicious new years day dinner we should have lots of good luck, prosperity, progress and money in this coming year!

Would love to hear if you have any traditions celebrating the new year? Please comment, share or like!

Celebrating Heritage as a Family

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Dictionary.com defines heritage as “something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inherited lot or portion: a heritage of poverty and suffering; a national heritage of honor, pride, and courage.”

 

During a recent family event we were catching up with my husband’s side of the family. There was so much to talk about! Conversations were flowing about our families, jobs, the high cost of living, and of course politics.  Obviously, this being an election year, my husband’s cousin shares with us that during the last election, his daughter came home one day, and blurts out, “I don’t know what the big deal is with Obama winning the presidency!” This coming from his 17 yr. old daughter who is Black. Of course he was in shock!  Heck, I was in shock when I heard what he just said! Had she not realized that he was the 1st Black man to become president, and that this was a historic event! Is this what happens when you raise your child oblivious to his/her heritage?

However, in order to better understand her statement, we need to look into her own background, and where she was raised.  Her parents are Black from the South, who moved to Chicago when she was a young child. They live in the upper scale suburbs, and she went to a predominantly all White school.  So the question here is, should had she been raised in a predominantly Black community would her outcome on Barack Obama winning the presidency had been different? How about her parent’s involvement in teaching her about her own heritage?

I don’t want to pass judgement on how she was raised, however as the mother of a multiracial child, I’m constantly  reading, researching and looking for ways to teach my son where he comes from.  I can only speak by experience of what I’m doing and passing along to my son about his own unique heritage. I have expressed before how adamant I am about embracing your heritage, and culture. Living in the South has proven to be a challenge to instill in my son pride and a sense of belonging of his Latino heritage since it’s not as “present” as his Black one. He’s living day to day this Black Southern heritage, the food, the culture, and his primary language English.   So how do I teach him about his own heritage? At 4 yrs. old I can only speak to him in simple terms so he can understand, and we do things together as a family to celebrate his heritage: 

  • I’ve started by creating a heritage board for our son. This board helps him understand visually where he comes from.
  • As the sole Spanish speaking parent at home, I strive to talk to him in Spanish. Though, I do confess it’s a daily struggle, and I’ve faced many challenges that I shared before in a previous post.  
  • Being the multicultural familia that we are, we celebrate El Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos. We have a super long holiday in our home.  Kicking off with Thanksgiving during November all the way through January 6 when we celebrate Three Kings Day!     
Getting ready for Los Tres Reyes Magos
  • Fostering his relationship with his extended family, and creating new memories has been easy since we travel to Puerto Rico every other year, and the year that we don’t travel we always have his Abuela or his Titi Gladys with the familia come over to visit.  He knows who is his extended family, including the ones that do not live in Puerto Rico. Our relatives living in the states have come to visit us, or we have gone to visit them.  His extended family is very much “present” in his life, through out the year they send him letters, and/or packages to keep in touch with him.  (We have used video chat, but not as often as we should). 
Playing the tambourine with his Great grandma in Puerto Rico
  • Although, a little hard (because of the difficulty of finding the ingredients locally) is introducing little one to Latin cooking.  He loves soul food, but is having a hard time assimilating his palate to Latin cuisine. It’s a treat when we receive from Puerto Rico: guineos verdes (green bananas), papaya (tropical fruit), gandules (pigeon peas) and/or ajies dulces (sweet peppers) so we can whip up a Latin dish.  I often make a delish flan which is now our “go” to dessert for parties, and gatherings. 
Ajíes dulces from Puerto Rico delivered home via US Mail. 
Guineos verdes from Puerto Rico delivered home via US Mail. 

Yummy delish flan. 
Lechosa (Papaya) Tropical fruit from Puerto Rico delivered home via US Mail. 
  • Reading to him bilingual or Spanish books is a fun way to learn about his heritage. Little one loves the book about the Coquíes, On this Beautiful Island, Atariba & Niguayona: A Story from the Taino People of Puerto Rico, Mi isla y yo/My Island and I: La naturaleza de Puerto Rico/The Nature of Puerto Rico, and most importantly books celebrating diversity, and multiculturalism. 

    One of little one’s favorite books. 

His heritage is his identity, and I pray that teaching our little one of where he comes from will help him embrace his individuality.   Creating a sense of pride, of belonging, and knowing where he comes from will promote his character growth, and enable him to defend himself against prejudice and racism. Where he lives will not solely determine his identity, but so will his parent’s contribution on passing on his heritage.  🙂

How do you teach your children about their heritage? Would love to know! Please share, like and/or comment. ¡Gracias!

This post has been featured at Worldwide Culture Swap’s January Culture Swapper.