Friday, August 9, 2013

Calling Lao Multi-Cultural Parents! Ma der!

(not my kids, I was cart racing with the neighborhood kids..)

NOTE: FB link if you want to skip all my babbling: 

La and I have been together for some years now. Multi-culture relationships are their own challenge at times. We've never had any real major issues as both of us are open minded to learning from the other. As for La, I give him heaps of credit because he's from the way way outside outside countryside of Lao, in other words nothing like the capital city of Vientiane. Just as he's taught me how to 'Dang Fai" (light the Lao charcoal grill) and the finer points of Lao style living, I've taught him how to use a gas cook stove. And a computer. An a hot shower. And a washing machine. That's really just the beginning.... Anyway, I digress... I can say the only major problems we've ever had stem for language misunderstandings. (Note to multi-language partners, if you DON'T understand, DON'T say you do. Seriously. )

However, as we now are expecting our 2nd child, language and culture becomes all the more important to both of us. If you read the "about me" you know I worked with a Lao community back in the USofA. I know too many cases of kids caring less about their Lao elders. I understand the cultural challenge, just because you ARE biologically an ethnicity doesn't mean YOU are the same. You are HUMAN, you are YOU. If that makes any sense. (No coffee pregger mama speaking.) It doesn't mean you have to follow your culture's traditions, like their food or speak the language. BUT, starting out with kids 2 under 2 I really hope to instill in my kids a love of both their Dad's culture (Lao / Tai Daeng) and Mine (American Mutt - German, Irish and who knows what else ). 

Our situation is reverse of Lao parents in the US. I'm pretty sure River and Lily are going to learn Lao. Probably  100% sure before they learn English. They'll also be fluent in Lao culture. But, now it's even more important I give them a love of Americana (ouch, did I just say that?) But seriously, I want them to know lemonade summers, Rock n Roll, playing in the grass, English, simple phrases like "see ya later alligator", my mom's lasagna... oi.. too many things to list. So, I am trying in Vientiane to make sure both of them will have a few English speaking friends, go to some "falang" (foreigner) events and not just live Lao life 100% of the time. 
Searching the internet for tips on raising what I'd like to call culturally fluent kids, you can find a lot. But not so much specific to Lao multi-cultural kids. Some Thai, but as we know, not "same same". Since I work a Lao pre-school I often come across many materials for kids in Lao language. As those of you outside of Lao know, resources are severely lacking in Lao language let alone Lao for kids. As is a place for us parents to gripe, moan or brag about our kids achievements in only a way a parent who understands this culture can. (Never mind maybe gripe about why the dear Mother-in-law refuses to let your son use pampers or is horrified he eats anything other than rice,fish and "pak vitamin" (a local green). 

Phew. That was long. Anyways, if you are interested, join me on FB to talk more about raising Lao/ _____ kids to love every aspect of their combined heritage.


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