Multiculturalism: The Foundation of Our Homeschooling Education.

beeswax 'bandera': the eagle, snake in beak, on the nopal on lake Texcoco

Creative Commons. Image by C Newlin de Rojas

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about Multiculturalism.

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I think many homeschoolers will agree with me that learning should be a pervasive part of life and not something that happens between the hours of eight and three. I feel the same way about multiculturalism.

As as a Mexican-Franco-American family living in South East Asia, multiculturalism is not something we have to remember to work into our schooling. It’s woven into every aspect of our life. From the guards the girls greet with Wais every morning to the Amharic they hear when we visit two of their playmates. Expats typically get to meet a fairly diverse group of people if they are open to it —and sometimes even if they aren’t!

That said, living nestled in a multicultural environment can pose its own challenges. For starters, cultural heritage is a wonderful place to begin introducing kids to different cultures. But between our multiple moves and birthplaces, they are a little confused about where they come from. One of my daughters will tell you she is from Singapore. It’s true she was born in Singapore but 18 months was hardly long enough for it to have a huge cultural impact on her. Whereas my 6-year-old, who was born in Brooklyn and lived in Singapore from 2.5 to 4, still sings Oh Singapura and bemoans the loss of chicken-rice hawkers. She would probably happily swap passports if given the chance.

My time with them at home as both their mother and educator also translates into my cultures playing a dominant role. The girls are half Mexican but culturally you wouldn’t know it. Living on the other side of the world where Mexican expats are as rare as helmet-wearing Thai cyclists translates into a lack of opportunities to really embrace their Mexican roots. This would have been a different story had we stayed in Brooklyn. This saddens me but I try to remember that it’s more than just our cultural heritage that’s important.

What we need is a deeper understanding and acceptance of others around the world. That’s the true key to gifting them a ‘rich’ future. Cultural literacy should not just be a nice add-on a couple of times of year. I love that people are embracing world holidays and their favorite cultural snapshots but learning about Mexico or Sweden needs to be more than a lesson about Cinco de Mayo & pickled herring, respectively. Multiculturalism needs to be part of the engine of our children’s education, not just an enjoyable accessory like seat-warmers for those stuck in Nova Scotia!

I was reminded of this last night when a caucasian friend of mine who has adopted a gorgeous brood of ethnically diverse children and lives in the US shared a disheartening story. Today, her six-year-old African-American son was told by his supposed best friend —who is ethnically Chinese— that his mother doesn’t talk to brown people. Her son was understandably deeply upset by this. What’s more astonishing is that these two boys go to a school that is in fact incredibly diverse. There are only 2 white US-born kids in the class and their teacher is African-American. (That’s going to make for an awkward parent-teacher night when it rolls around.)

Sadly prejudice runs deep and is usually the offshoot of ignorance and fear. It’s also still pervasive and can affect kids by osmosis. If we want to change this, we need to expose our children as early as possible. With this in mind, I’ve decided to radically shift our approach and embed multiculturalism at every level. As homeschoolers, we are privileged to have the flexibility to place multiculturalism as a pillar in our children’s educational foundations. Please join me and let us be at the forefront of this movement!

 

p.s. I will be writing a lot more about this and I hope to create a repository for resources. One of the latest things out is The Global Education Toolkit. It looks amazing. I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet but I’ll definitely be reviewing and likely implementing lots of ideas from it. Please share any relevant links and Pinterest boards too!
 

 

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Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about Homeschool Mythsconceptions . hmschool blogging button

 

Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:

 

Fire Safety: Do You Make the Grade?

I found myself in a situation that any parent would dread. I rang the fire department hotline and NO ONE ANSWERED.

Fortunately our house was not on fire. We had a sizable python in our garden so it really didn’t qualify as an emergency –my dog who was on the menu probably disagrees. I thought to myself: My god, what IF my house had been on fire?

What would I have done? How would my kids have reacted? How much do I really remember about fire safety apart from the school drills where we slowly schlepped through school corridors, more relieved from a pop quiz reprieve than any message of safety.

The next morning I told myself I needed to prioritize Fire Safety but like many homeschooling mums, other pressing matters soon clogged my to-do list, like finalizing my goals for the school year 2013-2014 — shhhh please don’t remind me we are already nearly at the end of said year. And my good intentions fell by the wayside.

A couple of weeks later, I was half-heartedly preparing a Mexican map activity –read checking Facebook on the sly– when the most amazing thing happened, a gift from the universe really. I was contacted to consider reviewing the Sparky Schoolhouse videos and lesson plans, a fire safety curriculum FEMA is promoting. Someone somewhere is looking out for me!

I jumped to the site and started watching the Little Rosalie clip which is a song about what to do if you find yourself in a house on fire. My girls must have heard from the other room and they came running in. After asking a few questions, C my wee girl shouted “Again, again!” while P my 5.5 year old started pestering me to drop our map project and organize a fire drill like she saw in the video.

Check out Little Rosalie:

Since there was no appeasing my two little beasts we followed with hilarious What’s that Sound? This one made me want to break out my old roller skates with purple glitter laces and boogie to the tune.

There was no denying, Sparky Schoolhouse passed my kids’ test with flying colors! They passed my test too but then I am partial to pushing workbooks aside and dancing instead. Now I had a great excuse!

I promised them some more sessions and then kicked them out of our little office so I could check the lesson plans. I ended up choosing the 1-2-3-4 Order lesson plan. My girls love to cut and paste and this provided a fun way to reinforce the order of the safety steps.

You can check out the other lesson options here

As a homeschooler, it opened my eyes to the fact that despite my best intentions, I had some glaring gaps in my lesson plans, things that might usually be covered by school authorities. That said, I think the best part of this experience for me was not just finding an easy program my kids enjoyed, but the fact that I learned as much as they did.

And heaven-forbid I find myself in a case of fire, which is a very real reality given my forgetfulness, I now know I did everything I could to prepare and get my children to safety.

Bilingual Kids Rock Podcast: Multilingual Agent #007

Want to hear me ramble on about my trials and tribulations? Folks, someone actually wanted to interview me, for real!

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Me, I am just supremely chuffed at being #007. Am thinking I need a tux, and a dirty martini–stirred, shaken, whatever. Just don’t serve the cheap stuff.

Listen to my Bilingual Kids Rock Podcast here

Or go to iTunes and search for Bilingual Kids Rock. There are a bunch of great interviews I highly recommend checking out.

Today iTunes, tomorrow the world! (Delusions of grandeur: the gift that keeps on giving.)

Rabies: A 5 Point Primer for Expats and Travelers in SE Asia.

Rabies Immunization Clinic Photo

Creative Commons. Photo by C Newlin de Rojas

1. Fatal.

If you are exposed and don’t get treatment, it is 100% fatal. Receive treatment within first 24 hours of contact with a rabies carrier for best chances of survival.

2. Saliva.

That’s how it is transferred. It isn’t about the bite, though deeper bites are more dangerous. If you are licked by a stray animal in a country with a high rate of rabid animals, i.e. SE Asia and India, you should get yourself to an emergency room. You could take a chance but it’s a game of Russian Roulette. Once you develop symptoms, you can start planning your funeral.

3. Painful

On the up side, they no longer inject you in your abdomen. Yay! But if you haven’t been pre-vaccinated, you must have an injection of RIG or Rabies Immune Globuline in addition to the vaccine shots. RIG jump starts your immune system and this part of the treatment is *painful*. They need to inject as much of this stuff as possible under the surface of your skin where the bite/lick occurred. The balance goes in your bum.

To give you a sense of this part of the treatment, imagine slipping a deflated balloon under your skin and then inflating it as much as possible. My daughter’s hand looked like the hunchback…except on her hand. Many ‘brave’ candies and biscuits were doled out by the nurses. Oh and my daughter got some too!

If you haven’t had a Tetanus shot in the last 10 years you need one of these too. And if you have a deep puncture wound, you actually need shots every 5 years. (Without treatment or vaccinations 1/4 people infected will die of Tetanus. The rate is higher for infants)

4. Ka-Ching.$$$

It’s expensive. Well, the RIG is expensive. Prices will vary. At our local (Bangkok) Catholic non-profit hospital, for an adult, you are looking at THB20,000 or $200. Of course everything is relative. If you are an expat on a juicy contract, this is likely peanuts for you and you are probably already at the more expensive snazzy hospitals. If you are in the US, you’d shell out about $1500 for a RIG dose Which brings me to #5, and this will make you Mambo.

5. It’s un-necessary

Well the balloon injection pain and loss of cash is un-necessary. If you get the pre-exposure vaccination consisting of three shots over a month, you do not need the RIG treatment, saving you money, tears, and time.

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If you work for a government agency, chances are they will have obligated you to get this done. You should thank them. If you are negotiating an expat package as we speak, you could consider asking them to organize and cover the country’s recommended vaccines prior to moving.

If you are like the rest of us, moving or traveling by choice (or working for one of those shoddy companies who are increasingly cutting corners) I’d wait until you get to Asia to get it done. It costs a fraction of the price: In the US, the three shots will cost you about $600 total pp while in Bangkok, at the local travel clinic, we paid about $15 total pp. You also have the option to choose the intra-dermal instead of the intra-muscular jabs. They are cheaper, less painful, and just as effective.

Check in later this week for our amazing story: Horses, Humans, and Rabies Oh My!, where I recount how two of us were bitten in one week, by different animals, and ended up at a snake farm for our shots. For real folks. Welcome to Thailand.

 

Readers please note: This is a short and basic overview. There are many things to consider. For example: RIG shots must be given within the first 6 days. By day 7, it can impede your own body’s response. Depending on risk factors e.g. animal and exposure types, some doctors will recommend a ‘wait and see’ approach, given the cost and availability of RIG. But then all of this is avoided if you simply get pre-vaccinated.