Almost 20 years ago, my dear friend Yumiko came home with me on winter break. I was a wide-eyed young freshman at Fredonia State, who was ready to travel and be a citizen of the world. I credit my parents with that. Starting at home, my parents built in a love of our own cultural background and tradition. They expanded on that by helping my siblings and I to be curious about the world. I believe a large part of this is that they showed us they were curious about the world. They introduced us to friends of diverse backgrounds, diverse foods, diverse music, and diverse cultural traditions. Though we lived in the country, we explored urban areas. When we took family vacations, we learned about different cultures within our country, whether it was Amish, urban, Southern, or Native American culture.
A few times, we traveled outside of the country. This planted an incredible seed and thirst within me for more travel. Or should I say wander lust was born! From an early age, I strove to be culturally competent or literate and now desire the same for our children.
Flash forward to the present, Yumiko, her husband, and her children are set to visit us this weekend. I have enjoyed an incredible friendship with my dear friend for many years. As a professor of English at a nursing college, she has brought her students to the United States for several years in a row. Most years, I have had a chance to see her. This will be the first time I will meet her husband and her children in person. When I visited her over 10 years ago in Japan, neither of us had children. I was just married. Now our children will meet. Our children do not speak Japanese; their children do not speak much English. But I am confident the language of childhood will transcend the situation and some incredible, new experiences of friendship and culture will occur. I will get to hug my dear friend and have tea and conversation with her, to pick up where we left off, like old friends do.
For many, cultural competency is a buzz word in education and career fields. To be able to appreciate, understand, and interact with people of different cultures and worldviews is an incredible asset academically and in the work world. As I am also reminded of this weekend, it is an incredible gift…