Growing Up Global Read-Along: Greet Your Friend

Growing up Global Read Along

We’re back for the second instalment of our expat parenting book read-along with Chapter 2 of Growing up Global: Greet your friend (you can find the Introduction and Chapter 1 here).

We’re a couple of days behind schedule due to birthday celebrations (someone turned 4! Already!) and The Baby Who Refused to Nap for an ENTIRE DAY! I’m just lucky he has a very sunny disposition, otherwise it could have been disastrous!

Anyway, back on subject, I finally completed Chapter 2 of Growing up Global. I’m finding this book quite an easy read despite being a bit behind; I’ll blame that on my procrastinating personality.

Chapter 2: Greet your Friend deals mostly with language and, as you can guess from the title, sociocultural conventions regarding greetings around the World. Once more, I found this book to be very USA-centric, but I guess that is the general audience for it, so let’s leave it at that.

The first thing the author tackles hit a bit close to home with me – getting your child used to saying hello (and generally greeting) people. I’m going to publicly admit here, before having kids I was one of those people who thought “how rude! MY child is going to be brought up to be more polite and greet others (a simple hello – I never thought you should force kisses/hugs/etc.)”. Well, I’m eating my words. The author points out how, especially American children, are not used to greeting people they meet. I agree with her and have always emphasized this with my children. all went well until around the time Sprout 1 turned 2 and suddenly decided he was shy (yes, I’m aware it’s not exactly a decision – you get my point). Now I have a 4-year-old who not only will most probably NOT say hello, you might be greeted with a scowl as well. And there you have it. I honestly don’t know what to do. I tell him it’s polite to greet people and, at a minimum, not try to scare them. I’m hoping it will pass with time and was hopeful Ms. Tavangar would have some tips other than reading one of Emily Post‘s books on etiquette for children, but I do realise this isn’t the focus of the book. I’m open to any of your suggestions/tips though!

After getting into the habit of saying hello, Homa suggests learning greetings outside the children’s own culture, giving tips such as watching for cues and showing respect when you aren’t familiar with the proper way to greet someone. This chapter also has a list of general principles for greeting people according to continent. A good way to practise would be looking at the map with your child and talking about different ways people greet each other, as well as role-playing.

I’ve personally always found greetings in European countries to be a bit confusing. Being Portuguese, I’m obviously well aware of the rule of giving 2 kisses to everyone if you are a female and 2 kisses to women and a handshake to men if you are a male. In other countries, Belgium included, it’s not so straightforward. After living here for over 6 years now, I still don’t have it straight and all the other nationalities you encounter just seem to add to the confusion, so I’ve made a mental note to more purposefully educate myself on this.

All throughout the chapter there is a big focus on getting to know people of different cultures and ethnicities as individuals and not stereotypes, adjusting your behaviour accordingly.

There is an entire part on activities to do with children divided by over 10 and under 10, as well as many resources, both paid and free.  A few I found interesting for younger children are Muzzy, by the BBC, Beth Manners’ Fun French for Kids ages 2-6, Putomayo’s Playground collection of world music for kids (we have a few of these – really good) and looking for Listmania lists on Amazon by relevant topics, such as Father & son’s social justice picture books for children list.

How about you? Do your kids greet people? Can they do so in different languages?

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book directly via these links, a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore. However, if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop stocking this book, please pay them a visit if you would like to buy it!

Read-along time: Growing Up Global

It’s time for our read-along to begin! I hope others have been reading the book as well and I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, even if you haven’t been reading along.

Expat Parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

I have so far only read the Introduction and Chapter 1: Be a Friend, so I can truly limit myself to commenting on only these two.

I’m enjoying the book so far, but I do have to point out that this book is very much aimed at an American audience (as in USA, not American continent). I’ve been reading the Kindle Edition bought from the US Amazon site, so I’m not sure if the UK version has any differences. There are many references to the United States and how cultural differences are perceived there (such as references to the way Muslims are viewed post 9/11) and some of the resources presented are specifically for the US. This book was clearly meant for an American audience with a more or less ethnically  and linguistically homogeneous background. This seems natural considering the author is American and this book is very much based on her experience and aimed at those who can not easily travel overseas to have first hand contact with other cultures.

That said, most of the information and tips can be interpreted and applied elsewhere as well.

The introduction tells us what brought the author to want to write this book (you can find out more about that on the book’s website as well, here: Growing up Global), basically to help parents raise children with a global perspective, whether or not they can travel overseas.

The book is structured like a recipe to make a friend – a global friend – and that’s clear in the Chapter’s names. It is also strongly based on the Golden Rule – one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself – which exists in most world religions in one form or another. (I will not argue here any quibbles I may have with the Golden Rule, but let me just say, I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to assume others would like to be treated the way we would like to be treated. But that would be a philosophical question, and I do think as a general principle the Golden Rule does have it’s merits and is simple enough for a child to understand.)

In the first Chapter there is a list of “10 things to do now”, which you can also find on the book’s website here, which I find is very useful. Many of these tips I already have incorporated into our daily life already, such as having a World Map over Sprout 1’s bed (we chose the Peters World Map because the representation of the size of countries is more accurate than the more widely used Mercator Map).

Peters World Map

Peters World Map

We also have some of her recommended books (that’s a surprise, huh!) such as Children Just Like Me, a Unicef publication by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley  and, Sue Copsey.

Children Just Like Me

Children Just Like Me, by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley and, Sue Copsey

The part about exposing children to other languages and cultures is almost a given for expats. However, it has made be thought quite a bit. While my children have constant contact with many different languages and cultures, do to the very international community they are living in here in Brussels, I do find they don’t have enough (in my opinion) contact with the national culture.

I find we don’t have many Belgian friends. Acquaintances yes, but friends – not so much. While I do find language to be one of the barriers (my French is fluent, but nothing compared with a native speaker and sadly I have yet to learn Flemish),  I do find cultural differences to be the biggest obstacle. It seems to me people are a bit weary of making “international” friendships. I don’t really blame them;  it does seem people are coming and going constantly, which leads to inevitable good byes, so investment in a friendship may feel high risk. Or maybe it’s just me and I have to find a way to better integrate into Belgian culture. I would love to know how others have been handling this, especially if you’re here for the long run like we are.

Homa Sabet Tavangar, an Iranian growing up in the US herself, shares her own stories of hidden prejudice towards others, as well as prejudice from others, which I personally found I could relate to. As much as we don’t want to be prejudiced, it sometimes does seep in without us even being aware, or wanting to acknowledge!

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book, especially the hands-on suggestions promised in the next chapters.

The next installation of our read-along will be on Wednesday, 17 April. Get reading!

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing Up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar

Life off-line has kept me away from the blog this past week. I’ve been busy preparing things for the BCT’s Nearly New Sale, plus we had a quick trip to the Emergency room with Sprout 1 (nothing serious, just a cut on the head after falling off a chair with a book in his hand and landing head first against our side-table), and now the snow. OMG the SNOW! Our balcony was covered almost to the height of Sprout 1’s waist (he’s almost 4)! Beautiful, really, BUT WHERE IS SPRING? Ok, rant over.

I’m back now and I have lots of things planned here! Can’t wait to get it all ready.

First up, our Expat parenting book read-along. The winner of the poll (with 50% of votes) was Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar.

This book has 9 chapters, plus and Introduction and Conclusion. I’m thinking of doing one Chapter per week, plus one for the Conclusion, which means this series will run for 10 weeks. I’ll include the Introduction with Chapter 1: Be a Friend.

I propose “meeting up” on Wednesdays, when I’ll post about the book and you can feel free to join in in the comments. To give those who wish to read-along time to get the book and start reading, the read-along will begin on April 3rd.

I have the Kindle Edition, even though I don’t actually own a kindle, because I like reading on my iPad or iPhone (great for those times when I keep my kids company to fall asleep at night). You can get the Kindle app for other smart-phones and tablets as well.

What are you waiting for? Let’s start reading!

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book directly via these links, a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, or the above link but for the Kindle edition. However, if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop stocking this book, please pay them a visit if you would like to buy it!

 

Expat parenting book read-along

I’m an avid book reader, both fiction and non-fiction, and as such, I have a collection of more parenting books than I (or my husband) would care to admit. It’s just how I work – I have questions, I read up on them. And read. And read. You get my point.

Anyhow, I thought it would be a nice idea to share relevant books I’m reading with you, my dear readers, and I would love to invite you to read along with me. Or, if you haven’t the time or inclination, maybe you’d just like to read the Cliffs Notes* version?

Obviously, you don’t have to be an expat yourself to join in, I just figured “multicultural, multilingual parenting book read-along” would be too big, so there you have it.

Expat parenting book read-along

So this is how it would work: Today I’m going to propose three books and I would love for you to help me choose one for our read-along. I will give those of you who would like to actually read-along 3 or 4 weeks to buy the book and read the first part. Would this be enough? Too much? I would then post about it every week or every fortnight (I just love that word) until we’re done, and you can join in in the comments if you’re so inclined.

These are my first suggestions, but if you have another in mind, please do share in the comments.

Here are the nominees, in alphabetical order:

Book 1 – Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global - Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

From Amazon’s book description:

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, how do we prepare our children to succeed and to become happy, informed global citizens? A mother of three, Homa Sabet Tavangar has spent her career helping governments develop globally oriented programs and advising businesses on how to thrive abroad. In Growing Up Global, Tavangar shares with all of us her “parenting toolbox” to help give our children a vital global perspective. (…) Growing Up Global is a book that parents, grandparents, and teachers can turn to again and again for inspiration and motivation as they strive to open the minds of children everywhere.

Book 2 – Growing up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven, by Xiao-lei Wang

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

From Amazon’s book description:

This book is for parents who live in a foreign country and intend to raise their children in their own heritage language(s). It offers helpful suggestions for this challenging situation and providesuseful strategies in the daily interactions between parents and children.

Book 3 – Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reke

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

From Amazon’s book description:

Filled with real-life anecdotes, Third Culture Kids examines the nature of the TCK experience and its effect on maturing, developing a sense of identity and adjusting to one s passport country upon return. For many third culture kids, this book will be their first opportunity to discover that they share a common heritage with countless others around the world. Highlighting dramatic changes brought about by instant communication and new mobility patterns, the new edition shows how the TCK experience is becoming increasingly common and valuable. The authors also expand the coverage to include cross-cultural kids, children of bi-racial or bi-cultural parents, immigrants and international adoptees all of this bringing hidden diversity to our world and challenging our old notions of identity and home .

So, are you in?

*From Wikipedia: CliffsNotes (formerly Cliffs Notes, originally Cliff’s Notes and often, erroneously, CliffNotes) are a series of student study guides available primarily in the United States. The guides present and explain literary and other works in pamphlet form or online. Detractors of the study guides claim they let students bypass reading the assigned literature. The company claims to promote the reading of the original work, and does not view the study guides as a substitute for that reading.

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book via this link a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, but if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop please pay them a visit if you would like to buy these books!

Home is where the heart is…

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…which for me is a bit all over the place, so I suppose I’m a citizen of the planet (cue Paul Simon music) in a sense. As an expat, and especially as an expat or immigrant child, it can sometimes be hard to know where exactly home is, and your heart seems to be constantly pulled in all sorts of directions. Is my home the place where I was born? Is it my parents’ homeland? Is it my passport country? Is it where I’m living now? For many expat children, each of these places is in a different country. Maybe even a different continent.

This has been on my mind a lot lately after getting back from 3 weeks winter break in Portugal, the land of my parents, the land I lived in for 17 years, my husband’s land, the place where my children’s grandparents live. Having family living far and wide always made me hurt a bit inside as I grew up, and to be honest it still does. And now I’m starting to see that in my oldest child (3 years, 9 months). It starts with simple questions: Why does (insert relative) live in (insert city or country)? Why do we live in Brussels? Why don’t they live here too? Why do we have to leave? Why do I miss home (Brussels)? And on and on. Transitioning back to Brussels, where we have no family, has been hard for him. He misses the attention, he misses the people, he’s having a hard time with all these big feelings. He’s taken to playing a game where we make believe a family member is waiting in the car for him when I pick him up from school. Yet sometimes, when we’re “skyping” with family members he refuses to speak to them. Sometimes he visibly chokes up. It’s hard to see, especially since I know how it feels.

This seems to be quite common with expat/immigrant children, the not knowing where we’re from, which can sometimes lead to not knowing who we are. There’s not much we could do about relatives being spread far and wide, however there are things we do to try to make this a bit less difficult and to help our sons maintain some identity. One thing which has helped enormously is Skype. Even my computer illiterate Mom is able to use Skype, and while it doesn’t replace being together in the same room, it definitely does help maintain a certain connection with family which just doesn’t happen on the phone.

Other things we do is look at pictures, hear stories recorded by far away family members, and talk about them (a lot!!!), about the countries they live in, about their customs and traditions, about who we are as a family.

Because maybe home isn’t a place on the map. Maybe home is family.

How do you handle being away from family? Any tips?

Fans of Flanders

This post was originally written for the Fans of Flanders website, where you can find me and many other great contributing bloggers. Go check them out!