Aside from being bilingual in Spanish and English and kicking off with his Tagalog (my national language from the Philippines), my son is in touch and connected with our world. He understands how big and diverse our universe is and even if we come from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, or origins, we are all the same. Respect is primordial in our dealings. His school also plays an important role in promoting diversity and multiculturalism. They have lectures about global and specific traditions. However, I believe travelling is indeed one of the best, if not the best form of immersion and understanding other cultures. I don’t have the luxury of time and resources to dedicate to travelling. So, in this post, I’ll share with you my tips and experiences to increase awareness of multiculturalism and how we foster a multicultural mindset in our family.
Take the time to address the inquisitive kid
My son has been and continues to be curious about practices and traditions specific to certain countries. He would ask why most Japanese sit during mealtime? Why is it customary to remove your footwear when you are entering an Asian household? Why are curry or spices core ingredients in Indian cuisine, time differences, etc? We take these questions as opportunities to sit down and talk about lifestyle, history, or practices across the globe. Another easier approach is to start showing your child about Wikipedia, which is a go-to online “encyclopedia”. Although, it is advisable that kids are accompanied whenever they navigate online.
Read books about other countries and cultures
We have books about Chinese, Japanese, Indian/Hindu, etc cultures and languages. These books were selected by our child and we read them together; so, it is a learning experience for all of us.
We really invest in books. We may have limitations travelling but a curious mind is limitless and books are great instruments in empowering a curious mind.
Enjoy museums and cultural trips
My son is already 12 years old and since he was 4, we started going to museums and exploring contemporary artists and their works. The paintings or works of art are most of the time reflections of the culture, the mindset of the artist, and their upbringing. We also take the time to go to flea markets and events highlighting a specific tradition or holiday of a country, for example, Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving, etc.
Watch movies or YouTube videos in the original version
Even though we are fluent in Spanish, English, and Tagalog, we prefer watching in the original version. My son has watched many kid-friendly anime movies (Nihonggo (Ponyo, Kiki´s Delivery Express, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, Totoro, Spirited Away, etc), in Italian, Portuguese and original movies in English such as the Harry Potter series, Nanny McPhee series, etc. Watching international movies increases our idea of other cultures and lifestyles.
My son has an idea of how agricultural some countries and some areas are and what type of lifestyle such entails. He also understands that weather and climate are different across the globe and the lifestyle involved in the different climates.
Just a reminder, watching YouTube videos should be supervised.
Cook different cuisines together
My son recently asked me about Kaju Burfi which is a typical dessert/sweet in India. He learnt about it at school. We would prepare food from other countries. We are experts with our Spanish and Tagalog/Filipino dishes. From time to time, we prepare tiramisu, pizza and pasta (Italian), arepas (Venezuelan), Chinese cuisine, Indian curry, English fish and chips, etc. As we go through the preparation process, we talk about the essence of the food in the culture. I still remember how my son one time said that he felt that we were in Mexico because we had homemade fajitas and tacos!
Dine out and be adventurous with food
This is an alternative to cooking. Sometimes, when we dine out, the restaurant has a cultural vibe. In cases where cooking a particular cuisine is difficult, we would dine out if our time and resources can afford. We have our go-to Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, American, Spanish, and Chinese restaurants. And my son is such a trooper!
Create art together
This is a creative, sweet, and fun bonding time together. My son and I would write a storybook about Italian characters. We would make cut-out pieces of Indian accessories and would draw our dream Japanese temple, etc. This is a very stimulating activity.
Find local playgroups
As Madrid is an international friendly community, I bonded with foreign moms like me – Latin American, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, and my fellow Filipino/Pinoy mothers. From time to time we would organize playgroups with our kids. We would meet up in parks and have potluck where we would have our local cuisine, and snacks as contributions. It is a very good bonding time for the kids and moms as well!
I hope you will find these ideas useful.
How do you encourage a multicultural mindset in your family?
Latest posts by Isay Cabugon (see all)
- How we Foster a Multicultural Mindset in our Family - January 30, 2023
- Interesting Facts about the Long History and Relationship Between Spain and the Philippines - December 19, 2022