One of my Dad’s favorite stories was about the time he brought a
Nigerian friend home for dinner. This man was the first black person my
youngest sister had ever laid eyes on, and she stared and stared for
the longest time, while our parents held their breath in fear of what
she was going to say. Finally, she startled them by declaring, “You have
a big nose”; to which Dad responded:”You have a big mouth!”
Children are amazing teachers. While we are quick to judge a person by
their outward appearance, kids are busy making friends with other
little people regardless of their physical characteristics. If any
aspect of a potential friend piques their curiosity, they have no qualms
about coming out with it: “What is that mark on your face?”
Prejudice and discrimination against a certain group of people is most
often the result of fear and misunderstanding. While some people welcome
diversity in the people they associate with, others are hesitant due to
various preconceptions or not understanding a different culture.
Whether a child grows up to be tolerant, or to judge people merely
because they are of a certain race or religion or nationality, is
largely dependent on what is being modeled at home.
We live in an increasingly diverse society. The differences that come
from people from all over the world enrich our culture. Success in
today’s world depends on being able to understand, appreciate, and work
with others. The person who learns to be open to differences will have
more opportunities in education, business, and many other aspects of
Broadening Our Horizons
* Become acquainted with another language. Foreign children’s movies are available for rental on DVD, with subtitles, and dubbed in English and other languages. GoogleTranslate is an invaluable resource for teaching your children a few basic phrases (hello, good bye, please and thank you, excuse me, are you okay?) in various languages, the most common being French, Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese. For a more comprehensive experience, language learning software allows for home study of almost any language.
* Keep your eyes and ears open for various exhibits and performances being held in area museums. For example, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester has an interactive series of annual cultural celebrations, including Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, Kwanzaa, Black History Month, and Asian Pacific American Family Day, offering international exhibits and demonstrations, family art activities, music and dance performances and storytelling. Check to see what might be offered along these lines in your vicinity.
* There are countless ethnic folk tales and stories about children in different parts of the world. Dorling-Kindersly has several books about what it is like growing up in other countries (Children Just Like Me: Celebrations; A Life Like Mine; A School Like Mine); and the Williamson Little Hand Series has some multicultural craft and cook books.
There are many ways to expose children to the differences that exist among people, fostering an openness, respect and acceptance of people for who they are, while broadening our own experience.
– (RDW- 2010, revised 2012)
When teaching your children about peoples of the world, be sure to explain that their diet is based on what is most available, which largely depends on the climate and terrain of the region. For instance:
* Bananas and pineapples grow in places that have wet and dry seasons and stay warm year round. Apples need a cold winter in order to grow. Children who live where bananas grow may never have had an apple because it costs a lot of money to ship food so far away.
* People who live on islands or near the coast eat a lot of fish, seaweed, and other things from the ocean.
*People who live in the jungle may enjoy eating snake or lizard. In China, in crowded cities it is not unusual to find vendors selling rat on a spit. This is not gross or disgusting but a matter of what is available and what people are used to. In fact, many people in other parts of the world think that the way Americans eat is pretty strange.
* Rice grows in places where it rains so much the fields remain under water much of the time because there is so much rain. People who live in these places eat a lot of rice.
* Not everyone uses the kind of dishes and utensils that we do. It is not uncommon to find people using chopsticks, flat breads, certain kinds of leaves, or their fingers instead of silverware.
As adults, we know that people around the world live different types of lives. They eat different foods, live in different types of housing, speak different languages. But have you ever thought about what life is like without all the conveniences we enjoy? What if you had to carry all the water you use in a day from a river to your home? What would it be like to make meals if you had no refrigerator, freezer, or canned food? What is it like to wash all your laundry by hand? How would you function without electricity?
Invite some family and friends to share a simple meal of beans and rice, cheese, fruit and vegetables, bread…
When we share a simple meal, we have an opportunity to be thankful for the modern conveniences we have and to remember that most people in the world do not have access to such resources.
We can think of ways to make our lives simpler, to unclutter our time and our living spaces. Most importantly, we can be together. We can enjoy each other’s company and remember that people all over the world, for generations, have gathered to share meals together.
A traditional Kenyan pastry, similar to a donut. Served with tea or for breakfast and often sold by vendors at bus stops.
1 egg beaten
½ cup sugar (can be reduced
according to taste)
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying.
Mix all ingredients together, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board until it is about ¼ inch thick. Cut into triangles and fry in hot oil.
South African Biltong
In many parts of Africa there is no refrigeration. Meat must be dried and cured to preserve it. Traditional Biltong has a similar taste to beef jerky. We have combined it with dried fruit for a sweet and salty treat.
12 oz. Beef Jerky
3 oz. Dried fruit
Cut jerky and fruit into ½ inch pieces, Mix together and serve in 1 oz. Serving containers.
ChapatisA traditional flat bread similar to a tortilla. Usually served with stew, small pieces of a chapati are torn off and used to scoop up meat and vegetables.
1 cup warm water
¼ to ½ tsp. Salt
2 cups flour (white, whole wheat, or a mixture)
Vegetable oil or melted butter
Variations include adding sugar, or using milk instead of water (or a mixture of milk and water)
Using a medium sized mixing bowl, dissolve the salt in the warm water. Add 2 cups of flour and stir using a wooden spoon. Add flour a little at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and kneed, adding flour if necessary, until the dough is no longer sticky.
Divide the dough into eight pieces and place the pieces back in the mixing bowl; cover to keep the dough moist. On a lightly floured board, use a rolling pin to roll one of the pieces into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Use extra flour to make sure the dough does not stick to the rolling pin or the board. Lightly brush the circle with melted butter or vegetable oil. Using your hands, roll the circle shape into a “snake,” jelly-roll style. With your hands, roll the “snake” into a “snail” and squeeze lightly to keep the dough in the round snail shape. Sprinkle a little more flour on the board and use the rolling pin to roll the snail back into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter.
You can start cooking the first chapati while you roll the next one (a partner is nice at this point!). Or you can roll all the chapatis into “snail” shapes then do just the final roll while you are cooking. To cook, preheat a chapati pan or other frying pan. Spray with nonstick spray or lightly coat with vegetable oil. Cook the chapati until it is lightly browned on both sides. The chapati should puff up slightly during cooking.
Families gather together to honor ancestors and to welcome the gods of earth and of the heavens. People come from all over the world to reunite with their families, making this important Chinese holiday the cause of the largest annual human migration.
Many Chinese will pray to ancestors and all the gods on this day. And because this day is also recognized as the birthday of all dogs, many will be especially kind and generous to the canines they encounter.
Day 3 & 4
On these days husbands are to escort their wives to her parent’s home. Once there, the sons-in-law are to show special respect to their in-laws. It was once common for in-laws to present the couple with two lotus lanterns – one white and the other red. After returning home the couple would light and hang the lanterns by their bed. If the candle in the white lantern burned out first the couple would have a baby boy. If the candle in the red lantern burned first the couple would have a baby girl.
Traditionally people stay home on this day, which is known as Po Woo and is set aside as a day to welcome in the God of Wealth. Visiting family and friends on this day is believed to bring bad luck.
Days 6 to 12
During this part of the two week holiday the Chinese will visit family and friends and many will pray at local temples. Red envelopes called lai see are given out regularly throughout the New Year’s holiday. When arriving as a guest to the home of family or friends, it is common to bring a small gift for the host. This could be candy or even a bag of oranges or tangerines. A lai see filled with a new bill of “lucky money” should be placed inside the bag of citrus.
Due to all the feasting of rich foods, many Chinese will eat a simple meal of rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) which are known to cleanse the body.
This day is used to prepare for the Lantern Festival which takes place the next evening.
One of the most well-known traditions and customs of the Chinese New Year is the New Year’s Parade which features the Lantern Festival and the much anticipated Dragon Dance.
Some Great Reads!
books celebrate the differences between children everywhere, while
encouraging them to realize that no matter what people may be like on
the outside, or what their cultural differences may be, inside we are
very much like them.
the Crossroads, Rachel Isadora
the Green Hills, Rachel Isadora
Farming, Martyn Bramwell
Around the World, Donata Montanari
Just Like Me, Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley
and Homes, Carol Bowyer
Ride on Mother’s Back, Emery & Durga Bernhard
Hold Up This World, Jada Pinkett Smith
Talk About Race, Julius Lester
King of the Zulus, Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema
Weave, Omar S. Castaneda
Eyes a Nose and a Mouth, Roberta Grobel Intrater
Smile, Cindy McKinley
Million Visions of Peace, Jennifer Garrison and Andrew Tubesing
Begins with you, Katherine Scholes
Every Child, UNICEF
You Are, Mem Fox
All Sing with the Same Voice, J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene
and the Tigers, Julius Lester
Multicultural Cookbook, Deanna F. Cook
Means One: Swahili Counting Book, Muriel Feelings
Means Hello Swahili Alphabet book, Muriel Feelings
Meals Around the World, Maryellen Gregoire
Meals Around the World, Michele Zurakowski
Meals Around the World, Michele Zurakowski
Time Around the World, Michele Zurakowski
Be a Kid, May Ajmera and John D. Ivanko
Do You Love Me, Barbara M. Joose
You Say Peace, Karen Katz
Share One World, Jane Hoffelt
I a Color Too?, Heidi Cole and Nancy Vogl
the Colors of the Earth, Sheila Hamanaka
Most Important Gift of All, David Conway
Pen Pal for Max, Gloria Rand
the Road to ABC, Denize Lauture
Goat, Page McBrier
Bread, Bread, Ann Morris
Little Island, Frane Lessac
Round The World Cookbook
Color of Us, Karen Katz
the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People, David J.
Carnival: Songs of the West Indies, Irving Burgie