For the next few Tuesdays, we here at Tutor Doctor WNY will be focusing on ways that you can help your children to become better global citizens through appreciation of cultural differences. The summer is a great time to focus on expanding your child’s awareness of the world in a way that school’s are not always able to achieve. Before we delve in to this week’s topic, let’s focus on what it means to be a global citizen, and why that moniker is more important than ever.
To be a global citizen refers to the identity people must adopt in a time with increasing numbers of connections that criss-cross Earth without respect for the boundaries of distance or of invisible borders. Improved technologies, ranging from Skype to faster airplanes, have made the world a more unified place, in which no country can stand in isolation. The impact of this globalization is especially evident in business, where corporations are international brands and operate branches on nearly every continent. Making sure that your child is prepared to enter a world where encountering cultural difference is a daily occurrence can seem difficult, especially if you live in a rural area. After all, children who attend school in a more urban district are more likely to be exposed to cultural differences through their peer groups. To help bolster your own child’s knowledge of other cultures and their comfort and flexibility when dealing with alternative world views, which is beneficial no matter what career they enter, there are many fun and educational options to pursue. For this week’s topic, we’ll be looking at food.
One commonality that every living being on the planet shares is that they consume food. While there may be a McDonald’s in every country on Earth, that doesn’t mean that all people eat or enjoy the same dishes. Taking a break from your family’s normal cuisine to integrate cultural dishes from Poland, Japan, India, or Brazil expands your child’s idea of what constitutes good food. Imagine your child at a business dinner in a foreign country rejecting a dish because it “smells weird” or “tastes funny”. There’s a difference between legitimate eating restrictions or limitations (such as gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan, and lactose intolerant), and disrespect.
Eating new ethnic foods can also spark your child’s curiosity. Why do they eat reindeer in Sweden but not in the United States? Questions like this can spark discussions about where food comes from, and a lesson in geography. Make your mealtime a discussion about the food you’re eating. Where did the peas in the samosa come from? What kinds of spices are different in Indian food than in traditional American food? To make the experience even more rich, involve your child in the process of creating the food if you’re eating at home, or in researching and ordering the food if you’re going to eat out.
So what are you waiting for? Try a new cuisine tonight, and help your child become a global citizen!