Combining Cultures
I Am A Mom, Raising Global Citizens And TCK's, Raising Multilingual Children

C is for Combining Cultures: Raising Global Citizens

  Combining Cultures

I’m excited to take part in this series, the ABC of Raising Global Citizens. It will run from June 1st to June 26th and there will be a post for each letter of the alphabet. The Creative World of Varya kicked off the series with a wonderful post, “A is for Adventure”, which was then followed by an equally great post about Books on Bilingual Avenue.

Thinking of my own multicultural family, I’ve decided to write about Culture, the (very important) role it plays for us and how we incorporate elements of all the cultures that are crucial to our family into our everyday lives- and how can we learn more about the world.

1) We cook

Cooking is my favourite and I think primary way of learning about the world. I love trying new cuisines and buying new ingredients to see what I can make with them. Recently, I bought a bread fruit- something I have only read about in books! It was certainly interesting. We also eat out a lot in different restaurants- Italian, Nepalese, Indonesian, Chinese and more! If you’re interested in world cuisines, don’t hesitate to read Global Table Adventure– she has cooked things from every country in the world!

2) We play music

We love listening to all kinds of music and my husband plays very diverse music on Spotify. I also play various instruments- the guitar, the ukulele, and I am now learning to play the piano. We also listen to music from all over the world and I love learning new children’s songs- in Dutch, for example. And recently, a Dutch-Brazilian couple taught me a fun Brazilian song! And don’t miss Daria Music for more (I love the Bate Bate Chocolate song).

3) We read and watch

To make sure the kids get enough exposure to Polish, I show them lots of Youtube videos. We also watch movies or series about the world- like the Planet Earth series. But we also have a collection of stories from all around the world and we find them fascinating. And of course, we have plenty of books (in fact, if you don’t know what to buy for us, buy books). I personally love Frozen and the song Let It Go in as many languages as possible! I have a great list of resources right here!

4) We play and craft

Not much though, because I’m craftily challenged. But one thing we did was to paint the children’s names in Chinese letters and hanged it on our wall where it looks great. A few years ago, we made these origami Christmas decorations and they looked great (still do!). I’m sure you’ll find plenty more of multicultural crafts if you’re so inclined, for example Kid World Citizen has plenty of them!

5) We learn languages

The thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we speak so many languages: Polish, German, Dutch, English and French. My parents speak many more, including Italian and Spanish while my brother is learning Russian. From the beginning, I’ve only spoken Polish to my children, while my husband speaks German. They attended Dutch daycare from 6 months. Now, they speak all three languages and my eldest is even learning English at school!

6) We dress up

I think it started when a friend gave us a beautiful blue dress she bought in India. Then, my husband’s cousin brought us a pink Chinese silk dress. Of course they loved it! Then we got Dirndls, traditional German dresses from our neighbour. My dream is to buy Polish traditional dresses as well but unfortunately they’re very expensive. On Multicultural Kid Blogs, I write about how to turn a child’s love of fashion (and dress-up) into a fun and educational multicultural activity!

7) We travel

We’re quite the travel-experienced family and used to do it a lot when our eldest was a baby and continued doing so until our second daughter was born. Now we do it way less- especially with three kids, but still visit all the great places to see in the Netherlands. But we would love to do it again, we’re just waiting for our son to grow up a bit. Taking our children to see other countries and cultures is always on our minds and I hope we’ll soon go somewhere exciting.

8) We talk

Because our children grow up with three different sets of languages and cultural traditions, we spend a lot of time discussing that. For example, my daughter was saying smaczne (delicious in Polish), while making the Dutch gesture for delicious-waving your hand around your ear. So I used that as a learning moment to explain that different cultures have different hand gestures. Also, our kids are very inquisitive and we end up talking about such topics as history or geography, all an important part of cultural identity.

9) We do cultural activities

One of the things we love doing is undertaking cultural activities with the children. We drive around the Netherlands, choosing a new place every week. Often, we don’t pick children’s places either, although we greatly enjoy visiting the zoos (a great place to talk about animals and where they live!). Instead, we go to museums. If done correctly, a museum can be a great learning place for children. Luckily, the Netherlands have a lot to offer in this regard. We’ve been to typical museums big and small, castles, and open air museums. We try to make these excursions interesting and educational for both children and adults and so far it’s working out perfectly.   

10) We create our own traditions

Lastly, we try to combine even more traditions into our everyday lives. For example, I was raised in Poland but in a very multicultural family. We’re just as likely to have fruitcake for Christmas as barszcz. The food I’ve learned at home combines various cuisines, including Polish, French, Chinese, Italian and more. Now I’m trying to do the same for my own family. We’ve also trying to find a good balance between our own languages and cultures, as well as Dutch traditions (we’re still not fans of Sinterklaas but we’ve accepted some other ones like eating hagelslaag on bread). It is that mixture that makes each and every expat family unique.

  ABC of Global Citizens

Creative World of Varya = Bilingual Avenue = The European Mama = Melibelle in = Smart Tinker = Good To Be Mom = Marie’s Pastiche = Third Culture Mama = Tiny Tapping Toes = All Done Monkey = Russian Step By Step = Multilingual Parenting = In The Playroom = Rue Du Belvedere = Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes = La Cité des Vents = Faith Seeker Kids = World Languages = The Piri-Piri Lexicon = Healthy Child, Global Mind = Mama Smiles = The Art Curator for Kids = Words n Needles = Multicultural Kitchen = Crazy Little Family Adventure



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  • Reply Eolia Disler June 3, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    You wrote a list with all the cultural points we can highlight at home to raise awarness on multiculturalism with our children. Now, how are we going to compete with that? 😉 hihi. Just kidding. I love this series. Varya had a great idea.
    Eolia Disler recently posted…Paris: Parc de la VilletteMy Profile

  • Reply Varya CWOV June 5, 2015 at 10:45 am

    As usually, you managed to pinpoint everything to the dot! Thank you for participating and love your article – all those points do make up for culture exploration!

    • Reply Olga Mecking June 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Thank you, Varya! Glad you liked these points and thank you for organizing this great series.

  • Reply Brynn July 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    I LOVE the idea of getting clothes from countries around the world! And I wish we could visit restaurants from all over the world but Vitoria, Brazil is a rather homogenous and provincial city. (My family is THE multicultural everybody else knows and my daughter is the ONE bilingual kid at school.) Fortunately, Vitoria does have a lot of Japanese and Italian, which are two of my favorite cuisines. If only they had an Indian restaurant.
    Lots of great ideas here!
    Brynn recently posted…Dear Brazil: Pay Your Nannies a Living Wage!My Profile

  • Reply Teaching Global Citizenship at Home December 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    […] love this post from Olga at The European Mama because her ideas on exposing kids to global cultures are concrete and easy to implement. With these activities, she explains “culture, the (very […]

  • Reply Rume February 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    I believe that hainvg some type of multicultural education is a must for everyone, no matter what professional field you are in. I think that everyone encounters someone from a different culture frequently throughout their lives whether it is on the phone, in passing on the street, during class, at a restaurant, etc. If we are provided with some multicultural education, then we can be more tolerable and learn to appreciate other cultures. There are several benefits to knowing about other cultures. If we are more culturally competent, then we will be able to be more accepting of the differences between other cultures, we will be able to interact with other cultures in a more positive way and we may even learn something new that impacts our lives in different ways. Multicultural issues greatly impact our service delivery as speech language pathologist. When helping students who are from another culture, there are several factors that need to be considered and researched. These factors include whether the errors produced are from a disorder or difference, if the tests given are standardized based on that child’s culture, making sure the tests are given in English and in their native language, and the beliefs and values that may impact how the child and family responds during assessment and treatment. These factors need to be researched ahead of time so that the speech pathologist is well prepared and does not offend their clients due to a lack of understanding of their values. Our service delivery to those from another culture is greatly impacted by hainvg a multicultural education. One does not need to know everything about every culture, but hainvg a multicultural education will prepare you and lead you to take the necessary steps in order to provide the the proper services to clients from another culture.

    • Reply Olga Mecking February 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Rume, that’s so interesting, thank you for sharing!

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