My family and I live in a very multicultural community in South Florida. We are fortunate to be surrounded by people of all races and cultures, who bring with them diverse foods, languages, and customs.
Although it might seem easy to become part of the rich multicultural fabric of our community, I have noticed that it is actually quite hard. For one, our cultures can seem very segregated, by languages, color, or social class. Secondly, we are constantly busy with our everyday lives and obligations. It is easy to go home after a hard day and immerse yourself in only the things that are immediately around you. It is a comfort zone.
But we should not be this way! The conscious effort we put in reaching out to others really pays off in our learning and overall comprehension of our world. It is a great opportunity to learn and build bridges, connections, and friendships.
There are so many barriers and fears, at times, about how to connect with those who are different from us. But in my life experience I have come to realize that you if you approach people with an open and humble attitude, respecting their customs and traditions, they will do the same for you. It can be a mutual exchange of love and knowledge. Your children, like mine, will benefit from this attitude. In recent years they have experienced other cultures, food, music, and friendships without having to travel anywhere!
So how can you and your family do the same?
Here are Some Tips for Connecting with Your Multicultural Community!
Be Curious and Don’t Be Shy
Many times I have been with my children in a public place and noticed people or families having a great time. Sometimes, it catches my attention that what they are doing is something I don’t know. Most of the time I get close and say hi, and people are willing to share with us. I remember one day we were at a beachside park and many families were having a barbecue with very scrumptious food that a chef was preparing right in the spot. Unable to contain my curiosity, I respectfully went and started a conversation with one of the mothers in the group. I found out that it was a Filipino group that gathers every month at that same spot to share their food, music, and culture with their children. That day my children ended up playing with their kids and we ended up trying all the delicious plates, like Ginataang Langka (Jackfruit in Coconut Milk) that I had never had tried before.
Follow Local Social Media Pages
I always find great events on my Facebook or Instagram. You can always use the browsing option to find things for your family in your area. I usually follow local museums, nonprofit organizations, local community organizations, local groups, restaurants and children’s groups. Depending on how diverse is your community you can locate places that are open to more diverse and different events. Local bookstores or even religious or spiritual places are great places to make new friends.
Subscribe to Emails from your City, County, and Local Organizations
This can be very useful when you are trying to discover what is happening in your immediate surroundings. Many cities are really interested in organizing events that have members of the community getting together. Also, there are many organizations that have important causes which we can support and volunteer for.
Visit Local Libraries
Besides the obvious benefits of visiting our local libraries, like free books and movies, libraries also offer community events and classes. Ours have concerts, summer camps, writers events, dance classes, yoga classes, and holiday events. In places where free events are offered many communities collide and are a prime spot to make new friends. Remember, always think about which groups in your community you don’t usually interact with on a regular basis. Make a point of getting more proactive to establish those real, one-on-one connections.
Join a Club or Volunteer in a Diverse Organization
You may be thinking, but how? I have kids!
Time is scarce, but in reality, any relationship requires time. So I am not saying you will need to get involved with a group every day but reach out and ask if your time and expertise is needed in any way. I volunteer by myself and we also volunteer as a family in different organizations and it has proven very useful. It gives us a sense of purpose and enriches our lives. We are so thankful to be able to serve the community and learn first hand what the needs are and how others in our community live their lives.
Having a really good multicultural community is an effort that needs to be shared with everyone in it. We really believe that everyone has the potential to offer great gifts to their community if they are given a chance to do so. Having a multicultural worldview reflects the reality of our modern world and enhances our quality of life. We can create vibrant and joyful spaces for all to share and also bring new plans and solutions for our society.
I hope you find your own groove in doing so, regardless where you live in the world.
Share your own stories of connecting, we would love to hear from you!
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