When my daughter was about three, she suddenly asked me for chopsticks.
Being that she was adopted from Asia, I was delighted that she was finally showing some interest in her birth culture. I immediately went to the kitchen to retrieve the pink chopsticks I had lovingly purchased with this day in mind. I presented them to her in a grand fashion and suggested we go to a local sushi restaurant for lunch. She stared at me blankly. “What are these?” she questioned, looking slightly annoyed. “They are the chopsticks you wanted!” I said.
She stared at me again. “I said I wanted CHOPSTICKS!! My lips are all CHOPPED!!” Chapstick. The child wanted chapstick. My dreams crushed, I returned the pink cutlery to the kitchen, and I vowed once again to find other ways to keep her cultural heritage alive, even if we were 7500 miles away from her birth country.
The Cincinnati Culture Scene for Kids
Nurturing cultural identity in our children is very important to my family. While one of my children is adopted internationally, the other one is homegrown. I want them BOTH to grow up with cultural awareness and an appreciation of diversity. Living in the midwest, it can sometimes be challenging for us to find cultural connection. Luckily, Cincinnati is a major economic, cultural, and historical center of the Ohio valley. Here are just a few of the amazing cultural offerings we found for children in Cincinnati:
- DINING! Cincinnati has a variety of palate-pleasing multicultural food. Without leaving the tri-state, we can dine on Moroccan food, Venezuelan street fare, and even Bolivian cuisine. Our children are adventurous eaters, but even those with a more selective palate can find something in Cincinnati’s tasteful and plentiful ethnic food scene. A quick Google search, as well as a glance at Yelp reviews, can help you find the perfect place to dine. Are you hungry yet?
- CELEBRATE! As a family, we have attended Chinese New Year celebrations at a university, as well as Diwali activities at a local Hindu temple, and enjoyed live Russian music and dancing at a nearby Orthodox church. No matter how many cultural celebrations we attend, there is always more for us to explore and new cultural adventures to be had in Cincinnati.
- ART! The local museums are an excellent way to expose your children to a variety of multicultural experiences. The Cincinnati Museum Center offers an annual African Culture Fest, where we often watch performances by African drummers and dancers, and sample goods and food from a bustling African Marketplace. Through a recent exhibition at the local art museum, we introduced our children to Japanese Samurai culture and arts. Even better, general admission to many of these museums and exhibits is often free!
- HOST! Many local high schools are looking for local families willing to host cultural exchange students for a few weeks or even months. This is a great opportunity to foster life-long bonds and appreciation for cultural diversity, as well as providing a life-changing experience for both students and families.
This, of course, is certainly not an exhaustive list, and furthermore, no matter how you share culture and diversity with your children, do so in a manner that promotes curiosity and acceptance. Encourage them to ask questions, start conversations, and most all of, learn to be comfortable with people from all walks of life.
Sometimes that looks like venturing out into the city, and sometimes it looks like very tiny, bright pink chopsticks.
What do you do to promote cultural diversity within your home and family?