Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chinese New Year (part 1)

This year we had 3 different Chinese New Year events! We started off the "season" with a dinner for adoptive parents at a Chinese restaurant. Although we didn't know anyone, we were in a huge room of families that "looked" like us, and I think it is necessary to provide that subtlety to our kids. The buffet was good food, and the kids had fun running around the tables together. As we plan and attend such events, I wonder if we are incorporating enough Chinese culture and pride into our family. The kids take Chinese class, and we attend the random event now and then, and now Tonito is in kung-fu with a respected Shao Lin monk (how cool). But I wonder what we need to do day-to-day to introduce him to deeper aspects of Chinese culture... I need to cook more cuisine from his province, and learn more about Chinese history... One time in grad school I was taking a class about Intercultural Communication and the teacher was explaining how cultural knowledge is like an iceberg. The superficial tidbits are the tip sticking out of the water, but the vast majority of the culture iceberg is below the surface, and takes longer to learn. The tip of the iceberg for Spain would be that they speak Spanish, eat paella and attend bullfights. The huge underwater chunk includes politeness, superstitions, protocol for invitations, cultural morals and expectations, and a myriad of other pieces of knowledge that goes deeper than what tourists see and experience. What is our job as adoptive parents? How do we disperse what cultural knowledge we are lucky enough to gather- and how do we make this age appropriate while promoting pride and self-esteem? In the past, adoptive parents were (ill) advised to bring up their children as "Americans" with no ties to their ethnic or cultural backgrounds. It is our duty to build that bridge and encourage our children to be aware, if not embrace, both their heritage and their new culture. Perhaps embrace is too optimistic or strong- you cannot force appreciation, but you can expose your kids and the family can choose to embrace its cultural components as a unit. Hmmm.. any thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try as hard as you can, they will still be raised as Americans. The thing is though, by exposing them to as much of their culture as you can, maybe you can plant a seed that can grow within them, so that when they are beyond the "it's not cool to be different" stage, they will respond and develop their own cultural awareness. dad