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Cultural Diversity | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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by Kenia Hernandez-Cueto

California is one of the most sought after destinations in the world for travelers. Its landscape is as diverse as the popula- tion inhabiting it. With its increasingly growing ethnic groups, California has grown to be the melting pot of the world. Families flock to vacation spots throughout the state to seek multiple cultural experiences in its diverse demographic make-up the likes of a trip around the world. They could experience the refreshing touch of the expansive California Pacific Ocean Coast, the rugged terrain and swelter- ing heat generated from the hot desert landscape, or the crisp freshness of high mountain resorts all in an amaz- ingly close proximity to one another. Newcomers are also pleasantly sur- prised to find added access to com- munities much different from their own, which share rich cultural traditions and nuances from countries miles away.

The beauty of cultural diversity and rich traditions tend to get lost in the chaos of life here in California and, for this reason, some parents take on the task to weave the teachings of cultural awareness and understanding into their every day life lessons. How can more parents expose and share diverse cultural treasures with their children that are not so hidden within our midst?

Parenting with a purpose allows one to focus on specifics they believe are important in the development of a child’s formation. Teaching and modeling values, morals, and religion are some of the fundamental building blocks that guide children toward a purposeful beginning. Within these morals and values are cultural acceptance, understanding, and respect towards human kind.

In addition, exposure to diverse experiences enhances life involvement and further exploration of ones own uniqueness. Self-awareness is enhanced and curiosity into ones own personal history and lineage becomes heightened. Making time to follow ancestral heritage allows families to recognize familial and traditional distinctions that best explains who they are. The process of self-discovery through cultural awareness could well be the motivating factor to further multicultural discoveries.

Statistics; According to the 2010 Census, 57.6% of the population claimed to be white, while 40.1% were non-Hispanic white. 13% were Asian and 6.2% Black. Other groups con- sisted of Native American, Hispanic, Latino and others. California’s multi- cultural population of 37,253,956 is the most populous in the country.

Although children are born with their own personalities, traits and individual idiosyncrasies, parents have the ability to impart purposeful teachings their children could carry throughout their lifetime.

Multicultural Experiences in California

Access to the multicultural experience in California can be within reach and free of charge. Outings to ethnic markets, cultural events and museums are bound to create a blend of curiosity, enlightenment and intrigue. Education takes its course as new cultural experiences overtake the natural learning process.

“Children don’t come with instructions, but they do come with open minds,” writes Christopher Metzler, Ph.D., an authority on issues of diversity and inclusion.

As working and stay-at-home moms find themselves hungry for new ideas on keeping their children entertained and motivated during the summer season, it is natural they search for already planned summer programs or camps that most likely require
a hefty out-of-pocket commitment. Participatory programs that welcome parent’s attendance aren’t readily available unless the parent is a volunteer, therefore, begin the search for free summer camps or events through local city community parks and recreation departments, schools, churches, clubs or organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts or YMCA. Many programs aren’t specifically geared to focus on teaching diversity, however; one can make a concerted effort to search for programs that carry within their mission a sense of community, service, respect, humanity and equality.

Planning and thinking out-of-the-box for free summer activities that will entertain, enhance and teach are well worth the time. Although an “all hands on deck” approach may be essential, at the end of the day, parents will find that memorable moments outweighing their exhaustion. To add multiculturalism into the experience, research into the culture and location of the event beforehand. Allow the children to share their curiosity, concerns and comments before, during and after the activity. Open conversations are a healthy way to evaluate their cultural experience.

Become a Proactive in Your Community

There are plenty of non-profit organizations and events within your community that pursue a diverse mission therefore, searching for the best fit may feel somewhat overwhelming. Membership costs and time commitments may overshadow the added benefits a family receives. Researching the pros and cons of participating in a small event versus becoming a member of an organization will pay dividends. Families may find themselves best suited in making a difference in the lives of others and also learning about the diversity within the community by participating in multiple events versus joining one or two long-term organizations. Becoming a member of an organization could also make a positive lasting change on those around you.

Understanding humanity through service allows children to learn about the needs of human kind and the diverse ways in which they live. Traditions are also rich with unique customs, foods, music, and colors. They also learn about love, sharing, giving, commitment, understanding and much more. Neglecting to educate children about multiculturalism is to literally take away their global perspective and understanding of human life therefore, finding a balance to parent with a cultural purpose is critical.