You live on a big planet. It’s full of people who enjoy different foods and speak different languages. Become a key part of that world. To be a strong global citizen, you need to dive into the differences!
As part of News-O-Matic’s SEL series, we spoke with two people who help kids understand culture. One is NOM’s child psychologist, Dr. Phyllis Ohr. Another is Akeelah Kuraishi. She’s the CEO of Little Global Citizens, a company that sends boxes of goodies to kids. Each box tells about a place in the world.
Here are three tips from Ohr and Kuraishi:
1) Read, Read, Read!
Reading should be your first stop. Ohr said that can be “books on paper or online.” You’re already well on your way with this by reading NOM! We try to cover as many worldly stories as we can.
Kuraishi agreed. “Read books about another country,” she explained. This can give you key facts, such as how big a nation is. It can tell you where a place is on a map. It’s also important to check out “books written by authors from there,” added Kuraishi. The stories can bring you inside another person’s point of view!
2) Cook — and Eat — Different Foods!
“The challenge is to not only read about culture, but to experience it,” said Ohr. One way is to try new foods! You may not like the taste at first. “The first time you come face to face with something different, it may seem strange,” Ohr said. “Don’t give up!”
“Food gives such an eye into a culture,” said Kuraishi. Here’s an example — corn. Corn is a big part of many foods from Central America. Corn was first grown in that area thousands of years ago! Even today, people have festivals at the time corn is ready for harvest! One is the Sweet Corn Festival in Nayarit, Mexico. Visitors chow down on elotes. Those are sticks of corn on the cob with cheese sauce on top! YUM!
3) Focus on Kids Your Age!
Ohr suggested talking with kids in your class who come from other cultures. You can “do an art project exploring similarities and differences” in your lives!
Kuraishi recommended learning what children like to do for fun. “Find what sports kids like to play,” she said. With an adult, research other cultures online. You can find videos where kids from other countries share their traditions and beliefs! They may “talk about their favorite subjects and what their school life is like,” explained Kuraishi. “It’s a great way to build empathy.”
Updated August 21, 2020, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Ryan Cramer