It’s that time of the year again when I meet new students and their families, some of them newcomers to this country. From the beginning, the United States has been a country of immigrants. For us, it is sometimes difficult to stay in touch with our native traditions. If we have children, born or raise here, it seems harder to keep them grounded, linked to the mother land and their heritage. For me staying connected with my roots is an integral part of my life and passing it along a mission. Maybe many of you out there have gone through the same.
These are some of the things that have worked for me over the years helping me and my children to stay connected. Please feel free to share any other ideas you have implemented.
1. Cherishing and embracing my native language has been strategy number 1. Since I teach Spanish, I am speaking my language most of the time. I use it at home with my children (well, when they come to visit now) and with close family.
2. Listening to radio stations and watching TV programs in my native language has kept me connected with the cultural aspect of my country. Thanks to technology there are some places like HULU, Spotify, and Pandora where I can easily access them.
3. International Film Festivals have been other venue to stay in touch through the arts.
4. Cooking; everything begins there. I often cook traditional meals and share them with friends and colleagues to give them a taste of my culture. Epicurious is a great resource for international recipes.
5. I have a friend who hosts a student from her native Africa. Hosting a student gives both the opportunity to stay in touch while learning from each other. Both then decided to adopt a newcomer’s family from church forming a micro community of their own.
6. The celebration of traditional holidays away from home are a great way to involve the family and introduce neighbors and friends to our rich cultures.
I have been in this country for 17 years. I have many reasons to be grateful; love my life, the places I've been, and the people I've met. I am still who I am; a blend of Caribbean beaches, warm weather, lay back lifestyle, and the rhythm of a blended race. Preserving family memories and honoring our heritage is part of who we are, what makes our presence so unique; our contribution to the world wherever we go.
"Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards - the things we live by and teach to our children - are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings. "