Embracing a Different Culture
Children should be exposed to different cultural expectations because it aides adaptability, promotes equality and encourages tolerance. These qualities are beneficial to children’s growth as they help them to develop as caring, thoughtful and compassionate individuals. In order to adequately deal with issues that will arise throughout their lifetime, children have to be prepared from the early years to face challenges and be accepting of individual differences.
Children need to learn how to fit into their environment and embrace what it has to offer – both the positives and the negatives. It is recommended that children gain knowledge of different cultures as this can open the door to new insights for them. For example, children will learn about other countries’ traditions, educational system, types of food eaten, annual celebrations, rites of passage, cultural games and many other differences that exist among people in the world. Being able to embrace what other cultures have to offer paves the way to developing more suitable relationships and bridging the gaps between peoples. The wealth of knowledge that can be gained from learning about other cultures is impressive and sometimes unbelievable. Having experience in a different culture helps children to become adaptable. This can be done in a variety of ways. Children can be introduced to items from varying cultures. They can also learn to play games that originate from different parts of the world. The encouragement of cultural games will ensure that the different aspects of culture are learned; this can be done by inviting friends from different cultures to share a meal to learn about their customs. Socializing with people of different cultures results in better understanding and respect for other people’s views. (Composite Learning Index, 2007). Knowledge of other countries’ customs will help a child in his quest to become adaptable.
EMBRACING A DIFFERENT CULTURE 2
Exposure to other cultures helps children to understand and promote equality. Equality is defined as the situation in which everybody has the same rights and advantages (Oxford ESL Dictionary). Children must be taught that everyone is to be treated fairly and equally. It is paramount that they understand that everyone is created equally but diverse in many ways, such as language, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, and family history. Everyone looks different on the outside, different hair colour, size, eyes and skin, but it is never acceptable to point out the differences and use them as a reason not to talk to someone. Promoting equality will help to ensure that children learn to value and respect the differences that exist among them. For example, just because Samantha does not speak the same way Mellissa does, does not mean that Mellissa is any brighter than Samantha. It may be that in Samantha’s culture they do not speak out as much as in Mellissa’s. When embracing another culture, a child may sometime feel that by doing so he will be giving up his own culture. One way to reassure the child that his culture will still be maintained is by showing him how learning more about another culture will help him to appreciate his even more.
An even more important reason that children should be exposed to different cultures is that it encourages tolerance. Tolerance means “respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds.” (Kidshealth.org). Tolerance is necessary to succeed in any walk of life. One of the best ways to encourage tolerance in children is to teach them to develop kindness, empathy and compassion for others. This can be done by demonstrating these traits in one’s own life. Children learn what they live. So if they see their parents