Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf

Teenage children are rebellious, tenacious and passionate. I don’t want them any other way. But as a mother of three teenage kids, I crazily bounce from loving them to pieces to wanting to send them to the moon with smart phone and video games included! 

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart and parents must be ready to put on their thinking caps to empower their children while establishing clear rules and boundaries. I try, as a respectful mom, to explain the reasons behind every rule and consequence. I listen to my kids’ points of view and ideas.

However, there are situations in which negotiation isn’t an option and in which I don’t yield to intelligent and persistent youngsters. It will be done as I say: period! 

There are decisions and moments in which learning and being healthy are priorities and in these cases I refuse to negotiate with my teenagers and instead I proceed as a merciless dictator telling everybody what to do and how to do it. 

Traveling is one of them. 

Traveling encourages curiosity. Bali, Indonesia

Why do I strongly encourage my kids to travel?

It may sounds like a cliché but traveling is an eye-opening experience for children and adolescents alike. Represents an opportunity to grow and learn to make decisions on their own;  constitutes a meaningful way of interacting with siblings and parents while developing team-work skills. Traveling represents the chance to learn a new language and culture. 

Although, many times my teenage kiddos don’t see it that way. They don’t want to walk all those kilometers to visit another church (Europe is full of them), or don’t want to explore the rainforest in Indonesia because is unbearably humid and hot. They complain and beg to stay home or at the hotel.

That’s when I start giving orders to every one in sight asking them to carry their own luggage, fill their water bottles, walk, and enjoy because the benefits of traveling are too many to risk missing them for some teenage tantrum. 

Don’t get me wrong! Once we are on the road, ideas about places to visit and explore accordingly to my children’s interests are quickly written at the top of our to-do list. It is not about making their lives miserable. It is about taking control of the many possibilities they have to grow emotionally and physically and that teenage kids sometimes don’t see by themselves because of their short and inexperienced years. 

Discovering Barcelona with our three nomads. Spain

When it comes to learning and raising diversity awareness I feel the need to behave as a parent who guides and encourages. As guidance, many times you will need to establish priorities for your children even though these concerns don’t align with your teenager’s desires. 

How do teenagers benefit from traveling?

To travel with adolescents is an invaluable experience that brings many benefits to our children.  Some of these advantages refer to their core values, some others will enhance their understanding of diversity and cultures. From my family to yours, these are the amazing things I have seen my teenage kids to enjoy and learn during our adventures abroad:

Lessons Learnt When Teenagers Travel

  1. Learn how to save and budget money.

Once my kids are informed about our travel plans for the next weekend or holidays, they begin this unstoppable race to make money so they can buy souvenirs, comics, books, and clothing in our destination. It is so rewarding to see them plan their budgets, brain storming about selling the toys, gadgets and clothes they don’t use anymore, and also helping with extra chores at home… wow! They become so persistent and motivated. Traveling has given them without a doubt some of the tools needed to budget money and the importance of saving. 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/04/16/5-awesome-travel-hacks-when-traveling-with-your-teens/

Paris isn’t a cheap destination. Some serious budget planning needs to be done before traveling.

2. Empowerment of navigation skills. 

Teenagers like to be in control, they want their opinions and input to be taken into account and traveling allows that. In our family, we encourage our kiddos to suggest and create an itinerary and also to gather info about the transportation and costs of moving around our destination. Technology makes everything easier, so our children handle maps and coordinates with the apps they find more user friendly on their own cellphones. 

I must confess that at first they were so afraid to make mistakes… Afraid of getting lost! But now they feel more independent and capable of finding their way around without the help of mom and dad. And that my dear readers is priceless. I feel like I’m giving my children wings to fly away and be prepared to be successful abroad. 

travel teenagers

Finding her way around London, United Kingdom

3. Lowers the risk of youth depression. 

Millions of teenagers struggle with depression on a regular basis and it’s not uncommon for doctors to over prescribe medication without treating the reasons behind this behavior.  It is important to acknowledge that there are cases of clinical depression and other mental behaviors that need to be treated by specialists.

Let’s be clear, these facts and statistic are scary. Even more scarier is that many cases of teenage depression aren’t recognized by parents and caregivers.

Being on the road with your kiddos helps promote a deep connection between you and your offsprings and this connection is very important to lay the foundations for an emotionally healthy young adult. Additionally, traveling gives you the time to nurture your parent-child relationship, without distractions from work and school, and this allows you to recognize any signs of melancholy, chronic sadness, worries and problems that your child may suffer. 

Crazy moments but always connected as a family! Road trip to Lake Como, Italy

4. Break stereotypes and experience diversity. 

It is a fact that our children are constantly bombarded by the media with statements and generalizations about other cultures, their religion, traditions, and values. By traveling, you are exposing your young adults to diverse cultures and people so they can come with their own ideas and opinions.

For us it has been an eye-opening experience to hear our kids talk to each other about how they had certain biases against a specific ethnic identity, but after a trip they come back home with a totally different approach. When a teenage child travels overseas, he or she has the opportunity to break the often vicious cycle of prejudice and biases by experiencing diversity first hand. That’s awesome! To me it sounds like a more peaceful future for the world! 

 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/09/04/top-10-fun-loving-places-for-kids-in-india/

5. Discovering unknown abilities and personal traits. 

Traveling doesn’t go smoothly all of the time. Many times we need to reschedule train rides, change hotels, plan a new budget or itinerary or simply deal with illness in the middle of nowhere in a language we don’t speak.

However, traveling maximizes our problem solving skills to their maximum! Cool, isn’t it? But the benefits don’t end there. No. Let me tell you that we have discovered so many things about our children while traveling! Skills that our teenagers didn’t suspect they had… passions they didn’t want to pursue at first and now they love! 

During our last trip to France, my son started to compare some words from French to the Spanish language. He was excited to see that his knowledge of Spanish had helped him understand some ads, street signs, restaurant menus and so on in French. Then he surprised us with several translations using his mobile phone, his Spanish understanding and new discovered ability.

Bingo!

Our teenage son has found a new reason to pursue his career as an author and writer, adding some translations certificates along the way while being motivated by linguistics of Romance languages. He has a new passion now. Is it going to last forever? We don’t know. But being able to find and recognize the good inside themselves is for teenagers the key to a healthy self esteem and happy future. 

In conclusion, I invite you to give your teenage child the chance to see the world! Don’t fall for tantrums and NOs! Stay firm. You are giving them the gift of a lifetime. They will come back home to share with family and friends their experiences about people and their cultures. Instill in them the same curiosity about differences and appreciation of similarities that you have. Traveling will help your children to keep an open heart and become global citizens. 

So, where are you going next?

Don’t Forget to Grab Our Book

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Dealing with all of the end of the school year craziness have had me wanting to escape to a remote island, just my husband and I, far away from the chaos of last minute meetings with teachers, exams and next school year’s supply shopping. I’m exhausted. And I want a break from my children.

Well, I wanted to have a brake from them, until I realized how many summers I have left with them. Then it hit me. There is not so much time left, not so many holidays to be enjoyed all together, new places to explore and new cultures to learn. 

I felt sad. Somehow empty. 

Could it be possible to feel the emptiness of our nest with the kids still in there?

I am the mother of three intelligent and overachiever teenagers. They keep me on my toes. They keep me crazy “running around with mismatched socks” busy with all the activities, outings and adolescence related questions they ask. We have a very strong relationship and I feel very proud of it. Thinking about all this makes me crave more time with them. And I’m talking about quality AND quantity time. Those moments when we are so closed to each other that I can hug and kiss them within milliseconds with no adverse reaction coming from them. My “hen” mom instincts kicking in. 

Due to all these feelings I decided to share with you my reasons why you should travel with your children NOW! Not later, not when they are older, but now!

Odense, Denmark

Every single trip made with your offsprings is a wonderful opportunity to create memories. You will be laying your family’s emotional foundations. Every minute spent far away from home would be a reminder of how being together is the most important thing well above familiar objects, rooms, and other material gadgets. 

Is it expensive? Yes, it is. 

Is it time consuming? Yes, it is. 

Is it a roller coaster of emotions? Yes, it is. 

Is it worth the try? YES, IT IS! 

So let’s get ready for this emotional ride, because I am here to inspire you! You will feel confused, you will believe some of my reason for traveling with kiddos, you won’t accept some of them. That’s just fine. My goal is to wake your curiosity up and encourage you to give traveling with children a try. 

Why should I travel with my kids when they are still little?

Learning at its best

Children learn by observing, hearing and doing. Traveling is a great opportunity to expose your children to interesting places, cultures, and languages. Also, traveling can be an effective tool to show your kids survival and organizational skills and develop self-care awareness. The best part? You don’t need to engage in a cross Atlantic trip to teach your kids about the beauty of this world. Outings near home are an exciting way to get to know our own traditions too, thus developing a more clear identity sense of themselves and their culture. 

travel really worth

Paris, France

Safe space to acquire different values and recognize rough spots that may need to be a little bit “polished”.

When traveling many of the familiar things we have at home aren’t there. We find ourselves surrounded by unknown situations that will activate our self preservation instinct. Our usual selves with our ever present values will be changed.

In our search for familiarity we will approach the differences with personal traits we didn’t know we had. As a family we will develop skill sets triggered by our trips and that will stay with our children forever. Traveling prepares them for unknown situations, challenging scenarios and distinct people. 

Additionally, traveling with kids will show a side of us and them we didn’t think possible or existent. Our children are going to discover many things about themselves, they will experience irritability and tiredness, and they will learn to go on even when their energy level is very low. Traveling makes people resilient and children aren’t the exception. 

Morrocoy, Venezuela

Team building for the future

One thing that we have learned during our years traveling the world is that it takes a whole crew to make a trip happen. Since the planning and booking, family members are committed to collaborate with each other to create the most amazing itinerary.

Our kids sell some of their toys and clothing at the local flea market to have some extra cash to spend during the trip. They learn about budgeting and calculating costs. We purposely involve them in every step of the adventure. 

While traveling we also work as a team to stay safe and healthy. We look after each other’s belongings and are always willing to provide a comfy shoulder for sleepy heads on the train or plane. Together we take pictures, gather info and learn about the culture. Back home we put all of our photographs together (taken with our mobile phones) and create beautiful albums and videos to always remember our adventures.

This is an amazing chance to praise the strengths of your little ones as well. Highlight those personal traits that make them unique and valuable. 

Appreciating positive outcomes and learning from negative situations 

Not every hotel is clean. Not every museum is interesting and not every beach is as blue as the ones we see online. Disastrous trips are a reality. By traveling with our children, we teach them to be grateful for trips where everything works just fine, from the beauty of the surrounding nature to the smooth service of a under developed country’s transportation system.

But what happens when the ideal vacation turns into a nightmare? 

Three years ago we went to Brussels for a long weekend. We arrived to enjoy the most delicious chocolate in the world and the most crispy french fries ever! After spending the whole day exploring we decided to go to our hotel to get a good night sleep.

Our nightmare started. The charming hotel we booked based on the pictures and reviews from a well known travel website, turned out to be a whole on the wall located in a very shady neighborhood where the words prostitution and drug dealing weren’t that foreign. 

Immediately we went from “singing in the car” happy tourists to scared American family in dangerous territory. Don’t laugh! Don’t roll your eyes either. It was scary! But once the shock of the moment was gone, a very united and synchronized family started looking for solutions. After phoning and browsing online, we ended up sleeping in a beautiful hotel close to the border in the German side. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worthy.

This experience helped our children to realized that sometimes things don’t go our way. And that’s fine! We just need to clean the scratch on the knee and keep going. Better times will come for sure. 

You complaint about the challenges of being a parent. Aren’t you willing to enjoy the bright side? What makes travel really worth it all?

Parenting is similar to Jedi training and life. It presents us with both a bright side and a dark (sometimes very obscure) side. Usually we hear and read about the many difficulties to be a parent. We complaint loudly about it. I assure you that traveling, even with the challenging moments, is a great time to see and experience the sublimely thing that are our children.

Seeing them swimming, running, exploring, growing is so rewarding. All of the sudden everything makes sense, including those sleepless nights, hours of lessons and values we impart. Being away from home gives families the opportunity to better appreciate each other in a more relaxing setting.

To us, my husband and I, has been the best way to get to know our offsprings and see the results of our dedication and their personalities. We wouldn’t change traveling with our kids for anything in the world. 

In conclusion, my tears due to a feeling of soon-to-be empty nest have disappeared. It took me a while but soon enough I was already checking online the prices of plane tickets to travel with my pack. I am willing to enjoy every minute with my kids, spending time to hug them overseas and show them the world that surrounds us. 

Are you willing to give yourselves that opportunity?

You won’t regret it! 

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Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Empower Your Mom Friends One-Click at a Time!

Empower Your Mom Friends One-Click at a Time!

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln

Raising global children has become a mission many mothers have dared to take over in order to empower their kids with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in a globalized world. It is such a sweet and time consuming endeavor, but worthy without a doubt.

I am one of those “mamás” working on preparing her children for a more peaceful and diversity aware future. And I’m loving it! 

But lately there is a question “living” inside my head that it refuses to move away. 

Who empowers those relentlessly active moms? 

How do we make sure that moms around the world receive enough support to continue the beautiful path of raising global children? 

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, says in his book The Little Book of Lykke that “there is a four-point happiness gap between the happiest and unhappiest countries, and three points of these four are explained by six factors: togetherness or sense of community, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness.” How do we work together as women for women to procure these six relevant factors? 

Women empowered by social media. Photo credits for Pexels.com

After many thoughts and relentless nights, I have come to the conclusion that at this moment my most powerful “weapon” to promote happy moms is the Internet and social media contacts. If you are an “online active” mom that is registered in different social media outlets, then you are armed with this effective tool as well! 

Social Media Networking 

You only have to look at the rise of female influencers to see women calling the shots, changing the global conversation, and creating new careers and job opportunities from behind the screen of their computers, tablets or mobile devices.

Whether via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instragram, social media provides ready communities for women around the world. These outlets represent a great opportunity to “meet” other people with the same professional goals and to promote our ideas, products, and services in a fast and very low-cost way. 

Social Media Networking provides togetherness for women who have previously felt marginalized and powerless, being this the case of many moms in different countries. Let’s not forget that due to cultural or religious beliefs, expat assignments, trailing spouses, and motherhood, many moms find themselves isolated raising their children with no support of family and friends. 

“Social media outlets help mothers find a tribe and amplify their voice”. – Flor García

Empowering one click at a time 

Empowerment is a construct that links individual strengths, competencies, natural helping systems and proactive behaviors to social change. When we share with our Instagram audience the profile of other moms and their entrepreneurial skills, small businesses, ideas, and services we are becoming the voice and marketing solution for those whose experience could improve the life of many. Employers, recruiters and other entrepreneurs could benefit greatly from any of the talents offered by many moms online. 

How much does it cost to you to share somebody else’s business on Instagram? Think about it! And the pros for that mom with a new idea could be endless. Imagine how amazing to be an agent of change!

Promoting online can make the difference between a desperate mom and an emotionally healthy one. Which one do you think will have more energy to focus on raising world children? Money isn’t happiness, but it helps big time to focus our attention on what really matters. 

Therefore, an empowered mom producing income would be a great addition to the cultural awareness equation we want to promote at home. Also, it isn’t all about money, remember that empowerment suggest that individuals work with others (sense of community) to achieve goals (trust), efforts to gain access to resources (health and education) and some critical understanding of the socio-political environment of the place where we live (integration). 

Workshops, Webinars and Learning 

Many studies show that social media is contributing to women empowerment but there is still virtual gender gap due to lack of literacy, cybercrime and cyber bullying so many women are not able to fully utilize the new space and explore the many benefits of the World Wide Web. 

Here is when our expertise and academic knowledge play a relevant role in the fight for women literacy and independence. Have you thought about how much a mom can benefit from the knowledge and experience of other women? If you are an expert on areas such as entrepreneurship, cultural integration, diverse communications, arts, languages and web resources, the amazing power you have to enhance the lives of many moms is indescribable! 


Dare to offer online seminars or workshops, do it for a low-cost or free. Count it as your good deed for the month… or year. Jump into the wagon of helping other women. Become that mom willing to be an activist from the comfort of your own home. Generate awareness for social transformation favorable to empowerment of women, specially moms around the world. 

In conclusion, I leave these lines feeling a little bit better. I know that many of the women reading this article will find their way to support other women using social media and other online hubs as their tool for change. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Empowering women online has been proved to be a powerful vehicle for raising women’s rights awareness and income equality for many moms around the world. 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Can Monolingual Parents Raise Bilingual Kids?

Can Monolingual Parents Raise Bilingual Kids?

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

-Charlemagne

Is it part of your priorities to raise bilingual children? Are you a monolingual parent trying to support your child’s language learning process? I know what you are thinking: Oh no! I can’t help my children as much as I want because I don’t know the language myself… what do I do?

As long as you are able to provide emotional and material aid and have the right attitude and persistence everything will be alright. You only need to process this adventure from a different angle!

Empower yourself with these practical tips and you will be ready to effectively support and connect with your kids in no time! 

First you have to lay the foundation for your children to learn a new language and feel supported by you along the way. Don’t forget that it is important to highlight the reasons behind this decision, ask for their opinion and promote motivation in many different ways. We cannot force our kiddos to acquire another language, so things need to be handled with tons of love, communication and assertive but fun resources. 

Learn the language yourself!

Does “teaching by example” ring a bell? Learning the language is a great way to work together with your children and develop stronger communication skills at home. Additionally, it is a fool-proof way to improve your resume, exercise your brain and gain confidence while traveling. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. 


Supporting our children’s German learning journey wasn’t easy. However, it was totally worthy!

Invest time and resources!

You don’t need to spend a fortune, check your local library, second hand bookstores, webpages, and Pinterest to look for tools that your children could use at home to work on the communication skills they need to be fluent. Keep in mind that it is necessary to develop four different aspects of communication: oral, listening, writing, and reading. Prepare yourself with the right material. 

Connect with people that speaks the target language

This is a great way to get your children practice their new skills with native speakers, and it can be done on a regular basis to keep the input of real-like situations going on. At the end, our children are learning the new language to communicate, and it is through speaking that they will achieve higher fluency levels. Relatives, friends or colleagues that speak the target language are always a safe bet to contact to practice speaking and listening skills. Hiring a tutor is also a great thing to do. Nannies and au pairs are very common in the expat community as well. 

Now my son helps me improve my own German skills when we travel. I learn so much from him!

Be creative and reach out to other bilingual families! 

The idea is to provide children with as much exposure to the language as possible, thing that can be difficult to do when you don’t live in the country where the target language is spoken. However, don’t despair! There are many ways to promote learning of a foreign language. I highly recommend visiting websites from bilingual families and multicultural blogs to get ideas, motivation and support. This is a journey better done with the help of those who already have a little bit more experience than us. I personally like Instagram for quick tips and Pinterest for crafty ideas. Don’t forget YouTube for songs and sing-alongs in the target language. 

Put your apron and chef hat on! 

One thing I have learnt all these years of teaching Spanish to children and adults is that we need to keep things fun. So what better way to learn vocabulary in the target language than cooking a traditional recipe? Imagine spending time with your children making a delicious dish, learning about the culture and practicing new terminology in a interesting way. You don’t need to know the language for that matter. Simply write down the vocabulary, look for it online so you can listen to the correct pronunciation and voilá!!! You are good to go…. don’t forget to go to the supermarket though, you still need to buy the ingredients.

 Additionally, you could plan a special family dinner to enjoy the end results of your cooking and learning process and you can invite relatives and friends to show off your new language skills. 

They speak English, Spanish, and German. Now they want to learn French!

 Find a pen-pal for your kids! 

Writing and reading are two of the language dexterities that your children will need to develop. Having someone to exchange emails or even snail mail using the target language is a wonderful tool to support their learning journey. Just remember to check well before contacting other people to pen pal. Our children’s safety always comes first. 

So what are you waiting for?

There are many ways to promote language learning at home, you just have to dare to leave your comfort zone and make the process effective, entertaining, and stress-free. Parents support is the best thing children could receive and I’m pretty sure you can offer them that! Also forget perfection and learn to speak a foreign language too. Your children can be of great inspiration to you and they could even help you with your pronunciation. They will be delighted to have you on board!

Just remember this will be one of the greatest investments in the future of their careers and it is totally worth it to try! Make it fun! 

5 Ideas to Nurture Women Empowerment in Every Child

5 Ideas to Nurture Women Empowerment in Every Child

The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” Aung San Suu Kyi

March is Women’s History Month in America. It is a month designated to commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. However, I want to invite you to join the celebration of this event even if you don’t live in the United States. My heart tells me this is the perfect time to remember the courageous work of many women through history around the world. 

Encouraging exploration of the world that surrounds her. Photo credit Little Nómadas

March is a month we should take as ours to celebrate our achievements and teach our children about the relevant, and many times unknown, role of women in history. But how do we bring such an abstract commemorative month to the reality of our own home? How can our children benefit from the study and observance of women’s history? 

How do we get our boys and girls engaged in the celebration of the vital role of women for human kind? 

Like I have said in many articles I have written before, everything begins at home. Women empowerment, equality and development aren’t the exception. As parents, we need to be committed to raise children respectful of the rights of girls around the world. We need to educate our boys to actively participate in the observance of human rights for women in society, and we have to teach our girls to go for those rights without feeling threatened, unworthy and rejected. 

Siblings together as equals, enjoying nature at its best. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Children learn in different ways, some learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by reading, some by doing. Giving your child chances to explore diverse resources is the most effective way to teach him about women’s history and Human Rights. With these five tips for Empowering Girls at Home, your kids will discover new ways to equip themselves with useful information about women empowerment across all sectors of life. Remember, this is just the beginning, you as a parent will need to expand and nurture the path of learning. 

 


5 Girl Empowering Tips for Kids at Home

  1. Good leaders must lead by example. By walking your talk, you become a person others want to follow. Be truthful to what you preach and teach your kids about. Start by exercising gender equality at home, get rid of old beliefs and erase from your vocabulary things such as “this is a girl’s job”, or “let your sister wash your clothes because she is the girl of the house”. Those words and that kind of behavior just encourage more inequality in our communities. Quite the contrary, promote team work at home. Let’s all together load the dishwasher, vacuum the living room and work in the garden. Assign chores to your kids based on their age and skills and not their sex. Please be conscious about your own biases, we cannot forget that we are influenced by our experiences of the past and our own cultural backgrounds. Many cultures promote different treatments for men and women and it isn’t that easy to go against what you have been taught and what you have believed for many years. However, girls around the world deserve a brighter future and you and your family must actively make it happen. 
  2. Create a toolbox for the family. How can we battle inequality and ignorance without the right tools? Let’s equip ourselves and our children with information about the important roles of women throughout history. But let’s not just focus on the past: encourage your children to watch age appropriate documentaries about the living conditions of girls in different corners of the world, talk about it, support their learning by being there to answer questions. I have found quite useful resources on the Women’s History Month  website. From letters written by Abigail Adams to videos about women in science and technology, such as an interesting interview with astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan.  
  3. Pack your suitcases and fly away. Traveling is lethal to bigotry. Plan trips with your children to learn more about other cultures and meet people from distinct backgrounds. Dare to hang out with people different from you to get to know the reality of many women of our society. If traveling is not within your means at the moment, explore your own backyard. Visit museums in your city, borrow books about women’s history from your local library and participate in gender equality events in your area. Remember that books are a great way to travel with our imagination. Make a plan of activities and questions to encourage your children to deeply engage with their reading material and invite them to share their newly acquired knowledge with relatives and friends. This will teach them to speak up for themselves and support the cause of others.  Empathy anyone? 
  4. Time to dress-up. I usually use costumes as teaching tools, bringing learning to life. When we lived in the United States it was Halloween. Now that we live in Germany we have “Fasching” or Carnival. These two traditional celebrations have given us the chance to learn more about important characters of history. My kids and I choose costumes that are somehow related to someone different and special. This year my daughter helped me dress up as Frida Kahlo. You would think “what a mainstream costume”…. booh! But when you combine something trendy with a little bit of research, the result is a very meaningful outfit. Together, my daughter and I, learned about Frida’s sad story, her conflicts for being different and her struggles for women’s right. We even shared our discoveries with the boys who were pleasantly surprised to know that Frida Kahlo’s father was German. Choose the costumes that better fit your family’s needs. Our goal is to teach each child accordingly to his or her personality. 
    teaching kids woman empowerment

    Learn about women’s history by dressing up. Photo credits Little Nómadas

  5. Game night is great for talking. It has been proven by many studies that spending quality time together as a family helps develop tighter and more meaningful relationships and that our children grow up with a stronger self esteem when having a loving bond with their caretakers. Game night is one of the more common suggestions to promote family bonding. And you know what’s even better? We can take advantage of the time spent together to chat about relevant events and interesting stories from around the world. This would be the perfect moment to get to know your child’s opinion about working moms, girls wearing headscarves at school, and your daughter’s dream job. Have a talk about traditional male and female employment roles and show them examples of the opposite (male nurses, women firefighters). Listen to what your kids say but don’t judge. Our children are directly impacted by the media, traditions and their peers behavior. You should act as a guidance and effectively drive your kids to reason and understanding of basic Human Rights. 

As you see, what’s important is that we as parents don’t reinforce traditional gender roles (girls can take out the trash too and boys can do dishes), give enough information about gender equality and encourage intelligent conversations about what’s wrong with society’s behavior towards women. Trust your child and his or her ability to understand new things, point out what’s wrong with the message given by some TV shows and video games and have a nice discussion about it. Your children need to learn in a safe and loving environment and we are responsible for that. 

Have a very fruitful Women’s History Month with your family! 

Venezuelan Solidarity : Idiosyncrasy of a Land

Venezuelan Solidarity : Idiosyncrasy of a Land

As a mother and educator I feel the need to share with the amazing RWC community my deep love for my birth country, its people and traditions. I am pretty sure many of you have already read about Venezuela and its humanitarian crisis. Chaos more or less characterizes the condition of our economics and politics. Venezuela is a country submerged in a social calamity.

However, there are approximately 32 million Venezuelans that keep working hard for their country, big smile included, and that represent hope in the middle of our actual disaster. 

The beauty of Venezuela’s greenery and weather. Photo credits Little Nómadas

How can we be so optimistic when the country is in such a precarious situation?

Well, the answer involves a long tradition of ups and down and an economy known by its boom-and-bust cycles. Our country is young and so is our political system. Since the times of colonization in the 1400’s, Venezuelans have developed an extroverted, intuitive, and confident personality that has helped us overcome the many challenges of our history. These personal traits aren’t just reflected on the way we think, create business opportunities and survive in disastrous conditions. They are also present in our cultural practices from music to art and food to literature. 

Hallacas: traditional Venezuelan food. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Venezuelan Food: hospitality and solidarity from Venezuela to the World

Venezuelan cuisine varies tremendously from one region to another. Our food staples include corn, rice, plantain, yams, beans and several meats. Our exotic meals and sumptuous deserts embody the hospitality of the Venezuelan people who delight in opening the door of their houses and hearts to anyone wanting to experience some good old Venezuelan dish. 

Solidarity has characterized Venezuelans since the significant waves of immigration during our country’s history particularly in the period after World War II, with large number of immigrants from Asia and Europe coming to Venezuela seeking a better life. 

Do you want to experience Venezuela’s hospitality? Then I invite you to try our food! Delicious staples such as Arepas, Pabellón Criollo (the country’s national dish), Cachitos, Mandocas, and Perico (my favorite breakfast ever!) are wonderful ways to feel  Venezuelan friendliness at its best! 

Centro de Música y Artesanía Venezolana. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Venezuelan Music: the sympathy of the Caribbean in every Venezuelan heart

Several styles of our traditional music have been influenced by our Caribbean neighborhs. Venezuela has its own salsa, merengue and other imported styles that have produced global superstars and worldwide renown orchestras. Our music varies from region to another, just like our cuisine. However, the rhythm of every Venezuelan demonstrates a deep sense of Caribbean upbringing (Caribeños), content and sympathy. 

We are sad, we dance. We are happy, we dance. We celebrate a wedding, we dance. We baptized our first born, we dance. I spent my childhood dancing to the rhythm of Tamunangue, Joropo, Gaitas del Zulia and Barlovento Drums (Tambores). And we won’t be celebrating by ourselves. No! We will invite you over to dance your hearth out until dawn, showing you once more our approval and support of your own traditions and ideas. 

Go ahead and search some of my favorite songs: Caballo Viejo, ¡Viva Venezuela!, Amparito, and Tambor Urbano’s Le Oh Le. I guarantee you will be feeling the Caribbean in your veins and dancing in no time! You’re welcome! 

Charming Colonial Style Architecture in Venezuela. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Venezuelan Art: optimism and joviality in every shape and color

Venezuelan’s affable nature is reflected on every art piece we create. Our long and eventful history has given birth to passionate artists whose main purpose has been to express their feelings and embrace the diverse culture of our country. Initially dominated by religious motifs, Venezuelan art began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late nineteenth century. Then, Modernism took over in the twentieth century.

Paintings, sculptures, landscapes and ceramics are the instruments to share our understanding of the world and surviving our own history. 

One of my favorite views in my birth town, Barquisimeto, has always been “El Monumento al Sol Naciente” (Monument to the Sun” by Carlos Cruz Diez). It represents the joyful way in which Venezuelans “recharge” their optimistic energy to confront the many obstacles of lives in a country with so many shades of wonder and tragedy. We are cheerful and optimistic warriors. 

Fresh drinks and tangy dishes characterize Venezuela’s cuisine. Coconut water before swimming. Photo credit Little Nómadas

Do you want to learn more about Venezuela’s more prominent artists? Check Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jesús Rafael Soto, Patricia Van Dalen, Armando Reverón, Julio Aguilera, Manuel Cabré and Mercedes Pardo. 

Venezuelan Literature: the passionate voice of Bolívar’s children

Venezuela is a country of diversity, a tangy mixture of indigenous practices, African beat and Spanish traditions. Our literature is defined by the same conglomerate. From our Pre-Hispanic myths and tales, to some of the stories still written in our country, Venezuelan literature has been deeply impacted by the Spanish conquerors as well. Colonization times were characterized by discrimination, assimilation and struggle. Those aspects are widely present in chronicles, letters, and acts of Venezuela’s first writers. Writing has been an ever important balsam for our troubled souls. 

Read one of the many novels written by Rómulo Gallegos to find yourself immersed in the beauty of our plains “Llanos” and the mystic rivers of our culture. Gallego’s Doña Bárbara (1929) has been described as one of the most well known Latin American novel. I would like to suggest Arturo Uslar Pietri, Salvador Garmendia and Teresa de la Parra as additional sources of Venezuelan literature. 

Venezuela has a rich culture, from the natives to the Spanish and Africans, from the Arabs to the many Italians, Portuguese and Germans that came to our country after World War II, every single cultural group has influenced our history, traditions and the way we Venezuelans behave in front of difficult times. After all these news about my country’s crisis, I invite you to inform yourself about Venezuela and its beautiful people, always warm, friendly, happy, entrepreneurial and above of all kind hearted. 

“Growing up in any big city, you get exposed to so many beautiful cultures. I’ve grown up with a lot of open eyes around me that’s influenced my eyes to open.” King Krule

 

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Visiting New York can be quite the challenge when you are on a tight budget and have children in tow. All those expensive hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores threaten your wallet with their high prices and upscale services. Nonetheless, we took the chance this last Christmas and flew to the Big Apple with three teenagers and a extremely thrifty allocation. 

And we couldn’t be happier! We had a great time and the kiddos are already planning to go back to this great city once mom and dad recover their financial health (maybe it is time for me to get a second job? Ha!). 

Time to plan!

Once you have figured out the plane tickets and hotel expenses (there are many offers and sales to go to NY), it is time to think about the places you want to explore. You will need to find a good combo of entertainment and price to keep your family excited and to add some cultural value to your traveling experience. We focused on points of interest, culture, uniqueness and cost. After much needed discussions we agreed to visit the following crowd-pleasers:

  1. Macy’s 34th Street. 

Even thought this is a shopping place, we love Macy’s because of their magical Christmas decorations, ambience (hello LIVE music) and “Believe” motto. We spend approximately 45 minutes walking around the store while my children took pictures of the festive displays. After that, we explored Herald Square and drank hot cocoa. 

2. Times Square.

The most popular commercial intersection of the world is the perfect background for holiday pictures with teenage children. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, many consider Times Square to be a tourist trap. But I can assure you that if you avoid eating in this area and stick to enjoy the lights, the multicultural environment and make some good family photographs, you will have fun without spending a dime. Remeber that Times Square stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, so take the time to check the little souvenir stores in the area. Also, if your kids are into comics, there are a couple of cool places that sell limited edition issues and memorabilia to go with it. 

3. The Oculus. 

This impressive train station designed by Santiago Calatrava is perfect to warm shivering children after exploring the World Trade Center memorial site. The Oculus futuristic design left my boys speechless! Stroll around this beautiful structure and talk to your children about the power of hope and resilience. The Oculus is a statement to celebrate life and the willingness of human kind to overcome tragedy. 

4. Federal Hall National Memorial. 

Pay a visit to George Washington in front of Federal Hall and discover the history behind this neoclassical building. Federal Hall became the first Capitol of the United States in 1789 and it was here where George Washington was inaugurated as first President of the United States on the balcony on April 30th, 1789. Visitors can take a look at the Bible used to swear Washington’s oath of office and the Freedom of the Press, the imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger. Entry is free. 

5. Fearless Girl. 

I felt so excited to bring my daughter to get her picture taken with Fearless Girl. This bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal depicts a girl facing Wall Street and it was commissioned to advertise an index fund that comprises gender-diverse companies that have relative high percentage of women among their senior leadership. Remeber to take advantage of such an opportunity to encourage your children to think about gender-equality and women rights. 

6. Ellis Island. 

Before our arrival in New York City, we agreed on paying for just one attraction during our four day stay. The winner was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise (Sorry Mr. Empire State and Top of the Rock). For us was a matter of cultural and historical traditions, and the possibility of having a place that our children could explore on their own. 

I must say that Ellis Island didn’t disappoint. 

This getaway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States is the perfect place to promote diversity among children and young adults. The exhibits include real artifacts, newspapers, videos, and plenty of photographs of immigrants from around the world. Our children read with special interest the information about medical inspections and English courses for Eastern Europeans.

We also felt moved by the wall of Naturalization Certicates, since I am a naturalized US-citizen myself. Be aware that you must allocate around 2 hours to explore the facilities, this could be somehow demanding for younger children. Our kids are 12, 13, and 14. You can read about the history of Eliis Island here.

7. Rockefeller Center.

If you are visiting the Big Apple during the Christmas holidays  you cannot miss the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We strolled around the center, took pictures, drank coffee and enjoyed the lights displays of the stores along 5th Avenue. There is nothing more magical than the Christmas ambience in this part of the city.

We also shared with our kids the story of the very first Tree at Rockefeller Center, that was erected in 1931 during the Great Depression Era. Back then the tree was 6 meters tall and was decorated with austerity by workers of the area. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has always been a gathering place and reflection for locals and tourist alike. 

8. Samsung 837.

Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, this digital playground is the place to visit when anxious teenagers start to complain about too much walking and too many historical facts. Samsung 837 is an impressive display of technology and culture where your family can try different virtual reality gadgets and rides. The attractions are free and there is even a nice area for mom to seat down while dad and the kiddos enjoy the extravagant show of futuristic equipment. 

9. Brooklyn Bridge. 

Young teenage legs will enjoy strolling across the elevated pedestrian walkway to experience unique views of New York City. The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a free of cost attraction that has been featured in many movies and television shows around the world. It is a great place for family portraits and provides an opportunity to stretch tired muscles and get some fresh air. 

We searched online resources to enhance our visit to this renowned landmark and to have some conversation starters during lunch after crossing the bridge. Use the Internet to discover many interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, many sorted out by age and theme. 

10. Imagine Mosaic-Central Park.

One of the focal points of Central Park is the Imagine mosaic, a tribute to John Lennon. My children read online that this mosaic was done by Italian artists and was a gift from the city of Naples. Since we are huge Lennon and The Beatles fans, visiting this are of the Park was one of our bucket list items. Please remember, that the Imagine mosaic is located inside the Strawberry Fields Memorial, a designated quiet zone that doesn’t allow biking, rollerblading and loud music. The ambience was that of reflection and peace. 

These are our top ten recommendations to enjoy New York City on a budget. There is still so much to do and see in the Big Apple! These are just an overview of what you can accomplish with your children in approximately 3 days without going broke. New York City is a place where we would love to come back since we felt absolutely in love with the many things to do. From museums to landmarks, to shows and even cafes, it is impossible to ignore the cultural value of this place for you and your family. 

Feel free to write comments below to share further details and ideas. 

 


Don’t forget to share this with friends and save for your next trip.

Economical Things to Do with Teens in NYC

The Multicultural Guide To Your Advent Calendar

The Multicultural Guide To Your Advent Calendar

The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th. Century. The first styles came from the German protestant area where religious families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known Advent Calendar which was made by handwork is from the year 1851. Since then, this Christian tradition has been part of the Holidays repertoire of many families around the world. Family member and friends look for the perfect Advent Calendar to begin the holidays celebrations. 

This calendar come in a multitude of forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. Many families craft their Advent Calendars themselves, making of this process a great opportunity to kick off the Christmas season. There are so many wonderful ideas out there to create the perfect calendar for your family. Chocolates, candy, fudge, small toys, pocket books and many other items are suitable to keep children excited about opening their calendar every day. 

How to nurture children’s curiosity and raise global awareness during the Holidays season?

A multicultural Advent Calendar is the answer! 

Each day of this years advent my family and I are concentrating in being present, giving our time and attention as a gift, and learning more about holiday traditions around the world. These are some of the ideas that have made our Multicultural Advent Calendar possible. Remember to include some nick-knacks from your country of origin to learn more about your own heritage. Cultural awareness begins with the recognition and appreciation of one’s culture. 

  1. Time to visit your local ethnic market. 

From food to pottery, ethnic stores are a great place to introduce your children to another culture. It is a tiny appetizer to the knowledge of fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, sweets, pastries, and even clothing from other countries. Depending on the age of your children, you can simply buy a traditional sweet as a gift for some of the days of the Advent Calendar, or you can gift the excitement of a new adventure. How? Write a note that the kids will unwrap to discover that they have been invited to explore a new supermarket with many things from far away lands. You can even include a small allowance for them to spend there. 

2. Sweets and Storytelling go together.

Enclosed your child’s favorite chocolate and a note inviting him to spend time on the sofa with mom and dad listening to a fun Christmas story. We have many books that we have collected over the years about Christmas around the world. Children love to hear what people from other countries eat on Chistmas Eve, or what present kids receive in other cultures. Keep it fun! 

3. Spending time together is always fun.

In any language, in any culture, the need for interaction is key element of happiness. The Holidays season is a great opportunity to give ourselves to others and experience the positive rush of thinking of others and helping the community. Including some “days” in your Advent Calendar designated to spending time together as a family is always fun and cheap (for those like us that are always on a budget). My daughter loves rubbers (erasers), so for her we packed tiny unicorn erasers along with a note (pink paper of course) that says “hot cocoa time with mom”. On that day, I turn off my mobile phone, set the iPad aside, and make delicious hot chocolate to be drunk with my princess, just the two of us, chatting and enjoying the warmth of our decorated living room. 

4. Treasure hunt meets Christmas season.

Treat your children to clues that will lead to a wonderful prize! Maybe a weekend getaway or a visit to a museum to learn more about your local culture. Kids will be for sure excited about going on a trip with mom and dad, and parents can make of this trip the perfect opportunity to explore their own traditions. Make an effort to prepare beforehand for the event. Reading about the place to be visited is always a good idea, that way children can reinforce hands-on what they have learned at home. Remember that if traveling is beyond the means of your family’s budget, you can try the next big thing: find a movie that will anchor your adventure. A film about other culture is a nice foundation for further knowledge. 

5. Teach you child the “saving & sharing” lesson. 

Saving is a skill that must be learned from a young age. Depositing a special Advent “bonus” into your child’s account is an exciting way to nurture the love for saving. Therefore, prepare an Advent day where kids unwrap a chocolate and a note that says that money has been added to their savings account. Do you want to take this gift one step further? Encourage your children to look for a charitable cause to donate part of their bonus to help those in need. There are a huge number of websites with information about charity institutions around the world. Help your children to choose one and then learn more about that country.

In conclusion, it is important that your family enjoys the Advent time and learn about diverse Christmas traditions. However, let’s not forget that despite the pervasiveness of Christmas, it is critical that any globally minded person not assume that everyone celebrates it. Be open to diversity and enjoy different cultures and “Christmasses”. 

Have a wonderful Advent time! For more such stories from me, visit Little Nomads.

5 Fun Tips to Raise Globally Minded Kids

5 Fun Tips to Raise Globally Minded Kids

“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” Ceaser Chavez

In a world where many buy into the rhetoric of otherness and extreme nationalist sentiments creep on today’s political scene, raising global children becomes a necessity that cannot be overlooked by parents and educators alike.

Nowadays it is important to embrace the fact that gaining a global mindset should not be conceived as an “either-this or-that” subject. To support globalism doesn’t make us less patriotic. To favor nationalism doesn’t stop us from being global aware. This otherness idea is pulling our world apart at the moment and our children are the only hope to bring it back together in the future.

But how to raise global minded children while still loving our own country’s traditions?

From our own experience as a multicultural family living overseas, we conclude that to increase our children’s cultural intelligence we needed to keep track of the three Big C’s: commitment, consistency and creativity. Commitment to the important objective of thinking globally and building bridges between our differences and commonalities. Consistency to constantly feed our kids with useful information about other cultures. Creativity to promote global awareness in a fun way while using age appropriate language and material.

How to bring the three Big C’s to the reality of your own family?

Here are a few tips to help you raise global minded citizens at home. Remember that this list is by no means exhaustive, if you decide to start the rewarding adventure of promoting cultural awareness in your family make sure you use as many resources, tools and creatives ideas as possible to obtain the best outcome.

  • Make room for a world map

Children learn a huge amount through their senses and for that they need lots of relevant opportunities to explore the objects around them. What better way to understand the abstract idea of countries, geographical distance and cultural connections than with a world map?

World maps come in every size, color, texture and some even include sounds! It doesn’t have to be an expensive map, that’s up to you, but it is key to acquire a map that is colorful to attract your child’s attention. Additionally, choose a special place to hang your map up. Family rooms are great places to display your map. We spend a huge deal of time in the kitchen, so ours is hanging up right there in the kitchen next to our breakfast table.

Once you own a world map, use it! Ask your children to point where their home country is and go from there. The possibilities to explore a world map are numerous! Some fun ideas is to work with your kiddos locating countries where Halloween is celebrated; write some sentences about an specific country chosen by your family or even make a 60-second presentation of Christmas around the world during snack time.

Did I already say that you need to be creative?

  1. Start exploring your own culture

It is proven that to respect somebody else’s traditions you need to start by embracing your own. For your kids to grow up global, it is necessary to build a foundation strong enough to support all the new info that will improve their cultural intelligence.

Please do remember that to love someone or something we have to love and accept ourselves first. Same applies to culture. If you and your child don’t know your own traditions, how will you establish commonalities between you and other people’s culture?

Therefore begin by exploring local language, festivals, food, literature and art. Schedule a few weeks for your family to really experience its own cultural identity. Highlight things done at home that are part of your cultural background. Help your kids express who they are, form ideas and connections over this period of time. If they are too young to express their interests and opinions through language, encourage them to use art as a form of communication.

Don’t forget to enroll relatives and friends in this adventure. If you don’t reside in your birth country, connecting with grandparents who can provide a clearer idea of your family’s cultural identity is a must! Your mission is to expose your child to his or her roots. This is something that will benefit all family members and surely increase your CQ (cultural intelligence).

  1. Discover your artistic side

Art projects are a wonderful way to explore culture. But how to use crafts to learn about other countries? Gather information from the Internet to write a schedule of art projects for your children. Also, highlight important holidays around the world and search for fun ideas to use art to discover new traditions. The arts provide a fantastic opportunity for young children to holistically learn about the world.

It is a great idea to invite relatives and teachers to help children with their multicultural art projects as well. Keep in mind that the possibilities are endless and crafts aren’t restricted to just painting and gluing stuff. Encourage your kids to take photographs or draw an abstract picture of their lives at home and of what they see during travels. For more cross-cultural inspiration visit multicultural blogs, Pinterest, and other websites that promote diversity awareness.

  1. Time for Journalism

Provide your children with a notebook, pencil, colored pencils, old magazines, and newspapers and invite them to put on their writers cap. Journalism is a powerful tool to learn about ourselves, our own culture and other countries’ traditions. It is also a great way to track progress, so your kid can see for himself how far he has come since starting his growing-up-global journey.

By setting aside fifteen minutes twice a week in the evenings to journal, your children commit time to their multicultural adventure each week and that allows them to check in, express their own emotions about traditions, and redirect their focus. Maybe there are certain aspects of a culture that they don’t agree with, or that they don’t understand well. This is the opportunity to review the impact of diversity awareness in your child’s life and learn how to accept other people’s traditions in a respectful manner.

  1. Put on your aprons and chef hats

Cooking can be an effective way to protect our culture, our food and our family stories. It is also a great resource to learn about other country’s identity and connect with people from around the world. The significance of a meal goes beyond the taste and aromas, a traditional meal creates a deep connection between food, kinship and culture. And what’s best? Children love to cook!

Arm yourself with recipes from around the world including your own family recipes. Involve your children in the cooking part and explain to them the relevance of such a meal for the culture of a country. Relate food to holidays to enhance the learning experience. I have always stressed the story of the ingredients, where they come from, their taste and unique features. The goal is to teach our children about diverse others by doing and tasting culture.

Did you find some other great ideas of your own while reading this article? If yes, share them with us down in the comments.

If no, don’t feel discourage. Here is a tip you can use right away: talk to your children about their favorite traditions from your own culture this evening during dinner. Remember to be passionate and curious about cultures and your kids will follow your example. Be driven to spread cultural awareness and appreciation of your own culture through art, writing, food, and observation.

Join me on my journey to raising little nomads.

It is a challenging journey but oh so rewarding! You will enjoy it!