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expanding your cultural horizon

contributed by Cortney Housman

Dan (my husband) and I, genuinely, wholeheartedly enjoy people; discovering more about their culture, upbringing, passions, character strengths/weaknesses, and their achievements.  We delight in witnessing the pleasantness of people living together in unity; exuding love, compassion and humility despite different races or cultures.  We both grew up in a high school in a south suburb of Chicago, exposed to the beauty of culture and learning more about how they intermingle and navigate through the world.  Dan has a kindred friend who he has known since childhood, named Mike, who warmly and excitedly welcomed him into his Mexican family circle.  Dan vivdly remembers attending a Christmas celebration and Mike’s family embraced him like one of their own members.  Dan noticed that their family celebrated life well and to the fullest, making him more zealous about celebrating his own family members more vivaciously and intentionally.

I can gleefully remember Olyver bursting through the front door of our home after a day where he learned Flamenco dancing at school and he immediately began instructing me in the dance moves.  He exuded a cheerful countenance and wanted to get the dance moves down perfectly.  I was a vision with the air castanets. The only accessory I needed was a flowy traje de flamenca dress.  Olyver, like Dan, is gaining an appreciation of the attractive Spanish and Mexican cultures and is enjoying learning their artistic expressions.

Olyver readily expressed his ability to speak Spanish at an authentic Mexican restaurant we recently visited as a family celebrating his grandma’s 60th birthday in a community where Latinos or Hispanics make up more than half of the town, in Blue Island, IL.  Olyver was able to order his meal and express how pleased he was with the food once it was delivered to our table.  The waiter was pleasantly surprised that Olyver, an eight year old Caucasian male, was able to articulate clearly and confidently in Spanish.  The waiter actively took interest in Olyver asking him his age, number of siblings, and his school location.  Olyver’s grandparents watched the interaction with pride and excitement knowing that their grandson is an active participant in learning and understanding a second language.

I want to encourage you, reader, as you soak in this article to think dsc_1055how you can expand your cultural horizon and introduce your kids to a new cultural initiative in your home–at the table, dancing in the living room, or enjoying a social outing in the city.  How good and pleasant it is when we all live together in unity; appreciating and noticing each other’s cultures!

Filed under: dliparents, Spanish Immersion

About the Author

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Kristi Van Dyk is an immersion parent who is passionate about offering dual language immersion as an educational option to all schools and districts. The opportunity to raise bi-lingual children, despite her family’s lack of second language proficiency has expanded the dreams she and her husband have for the future of their children. It is this passion for real life change that Kristi brings to all of our new partner schools. Kristi’s educational training began at Hope College in education in the areas of English and Mathematics for elementary. Kristi pursued additional training in brain based curriculum development through the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute as well as an M.A. in educational administration from Western Michigan University. You can find Kristi connecting with new potential partners, sharing experience with new parents and assisting with training of new teachers.

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