Category Archives: Language and Culture

Discover The World From Home

Many parents have commented to us how they wish they could take their children all over the world but can’t due to various, very real obstacles. Finances, work and school schedules, family commitments, health issues and other impediments can make travel, domestic or international, difficult to impossible. There are still so many things we as parents can do to introduce our children to the world beyond their back door, even if we can’t get on a plane with them and jet set somewhere exotic. Here are a few of our ideas we do with our kids while at home. Please share your ideas too!

1) Read books with global themes. A few of our recent favorites include Four Feet, Two Sandals (Afghanistan); Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog (Japan); Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope (Haiti); and Whoever You Are (Reading Rainbow Books).

2) Make other languages normal and fun.  The summer she was 4 Grace attended a summer Spanish language camp near our home. She learned some new words while discovering that new languages are fun, not scary. Many community centers offer language classes or clubs for kids. Try out words in a new language yourself to show your kids it’s fun to try, even if you make mistakes.

3) Bring the world to your family. We regularly invite people into our home from around the world. In recent years guests have been from Haiti, Japan, Germany, Colombia and Taiwan. Some have been over for a meal, others have stayed a few nights.  Many have brought books or toys or snacks to our children from their home countries, which expands our kids’ horizons even after the guests have left. We both grew up in homes where hospitality, especially to those from far away, was regularly practiced and we do the same in our home. Some families host international exchange students for an extended period of time, giving their child a big brother or sister from someplace new and interesting. Having a friend from a distant country makes that place seem a lot closer and a lot less “foreign.” We’ve even video skyped with our friends in Japan. Their kids loved the “tour” we gave them of our home by toting the laptop through all our house’s rooms!

4) Check out local ethnic restaurants, festivals and fairs. Expand your children’s (and your own !) sense of adventure by showing them the wonders of new foods, smells and sights by finding those experiences in your own community. They might make new friends too!

5) Read the newspaper. Sure not everything is appropriate for kids but we share articles/ pictures in the daily paper about places our kids have been or heard about. It helps them grasp that a lot goes on all over the world, every day, even when we’re going about our regular daily routines.

How do you expand your children’s world while close to home?

Welcome Baby Anna and plans for Mexico

We welcomed Anna Clara Sethi into our family on June 22nd. She’s a beautiful baby girl and we’re loving getting to know her. Now at almost 3 months we’re getting lots of smiles, longer stretches of sleep (hallelujah!) and are about to embark on our first international adventure with 2 kids.

We’ve chosen a low-key vacation at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Morelos, on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. It’s near Cancun but quieter and less touristy than Cancun, so we’ve heard. My parents are joining us, making the prospect of traveling with two little ones far less daunting.

In the meantime, our three-year old, Grace, is getting excited about our Mexican adventure. This is the first trip she’s actually asked questions about beforehand. Tonight as I laid in bed with her she wanted to know every detail about our travel: what time she’ll be woken up, what we’ll do when we get to the airport, where Daddy will park the car, how he will find us in the terminal, etc. etc. It dawned on me – she’s actually old enough to care!  This little girl has six stamps in her passport but she has never really known that she was in some of the most incredible places in the world, let alone asked questions about how travel logistics work. How exciting that she now anticipates travel, perhaps even more than I do any more!

After she was tucked in bed I got in a bit of a tizzy about making this trip “culturally meaningful” for Grace. She’s going to Mexico, a place she knows a little about from Mexican friends. She knows a few token Spanish words (gato and adios, in particular).  In my quest to make this trip more than a week playing in the sand for my little preschooler, I went on amazon.com and discovered this great booklist of bilingual Spanish-English books. Of course I reserved them ALL at our library (where oh where will they fit in our luggage?).

In my zeal I may find myself overloaded with library books. Still what a discovery to realize we are now a family of travelers, no longer a traveling couple with a child or two in tow. While Anna may just be along for the ride this year, Grace will be able to absorb new people, new words, new foods, new sights, new smells. Our job as parents is to find creative ways to enhance those discoveries.  Way #1: a trip to the library to pick up that pile of books I reserved.