I’ve only been out of the country a few times in my life — England, Italy, France, and can’t for- get Canada — and I’m so thankful that I was able to do that and see a little bit of the world.
Even though those countries aren’t drastically different, I still learned so much about the differ- ences in cultures from other countries when I was there. I vowed after coming home to the states that I would take both my girls back someday so they too could see for themselves how others live around the world.
Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but recently we had the opportunity to welcome two young ladies into our home from Capetown, South Africa. They came to visit our church to perform over
the weekend and we offered to be one of the host families for them.
My daughter (now 11), had the opportunity to talk and learn about South African cultures, differences in languages, and it really opened all of our hearts and minds. We learned that most of the kids in this area of South Africa are in poverty and do not have access to things like an indoor shower. It reminds you that sometimes we can live in a bubble and it’s important to know and realize that many others live differently around the world. They also taught us some of their language “Xhosa” which includes a dialect with clicks —it was so beautiful.
I know this was a unique experience for my family, but it truly made me think of different ways to introduce different cultures to my daugh- ter. Here’s a few ideas I came up with:
1. Cook an authentic meal together from a different country. We’ve done this with Austrian and German dishes because my daughter has always been intrigued with these countries. It’s an easy way to introduce them.
2. Learn a different language. My daughter is currently teaching herself German from an app. She’s always been interested in other languages and began two years ago. She said it’s fun because you go up levels, earn points, and learn at the same time.
3. Listen to traditional music from a different country. We’re a musical family so this one is fun for us. Our guests from South Africa brought many different types of songs and dance for us and it was amazing. You can find plenty of things like this on YouTube or arts festivals around the area too.
4. Get a Pen Pal. Remember doing this when we were kids? I loved it. I had a friend in Guatemala I used to write to and always loved learning about what they were doing and learning.