Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

The recent shootings of Asian Americans and whether these will be considered hate crimes, tornadoes ravaging the Southwest and elsewhere, and fears of uncertain variants of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the news during the writing of this piece. Crises, unfortunately, are not new to us. As educators, along with feeling deeply troubled by these, we have had a tendency to focus on what we perceive is missing or lacking in the lives of our students and their families.

When it comes to multilingual, multicultural students, we often find ourselves and others using deficit-based statements that describe what we perceive, such as “they don’t know English and their parents don’t know how to help their children learn.” This deficit-based lens can unfortunately contribute to predictable odds of failure for historically marginalized students, especially during the many crises that we have encountered and will encounter in the future. However, more and more researchers, practitioners, and scholars are finding that when we focus our attention on what we perceive to be weaknesses or broken elements in the lives of our students, we fail to see the inherent strengths and assets that they bring to our schools and classrooms. Further, if we use that lens often enough, we begin to default to it as our modus operandi rather than focusing our attention where we should: on identifying, cultivating, and building on students’ existing and developing assets.

Research points to the essential relationship between identifying and acknowledging students’ personal, social-emotional, cultural, and academic assets and their academic and social-emotional growth and success (Biswas-Diener, Kashdan, and Gurpal, 2011). Similarly, using and applying the same assets-based lens to our students and their families enables us to form more effective and lasting partnerships with them. One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises has been the manner in which educators responded with a renewed sense of purpose around partnering with and caring for multilingual, multicultural families.

Many of the educators with whom we work ask us how they can be more supportive and involved with families during crises. And, just as importantly, they also ask how they can work more closely with their local communities and beyond to provide comprehensive supports for students and families. In this piece, let’s explore how we can overcome inequities by building from the strengths and assets of each of our unique communities (including our students and families as well as the individuals, organizations, agencies, and institutions that make up our local communities). Begin with an Assets-Based Approach

We see crises, whatever they might be and wherever they might occur, as fueling our restart of what can be and is being done to band together. Indeed, if we really think about crises, we quickly realize that we are not silos unto ourselves. Our students and their families as well as members of our local, school, and classroom communities are all interrelated, interconnected, and even interdependent on one another. Further, when we take time to consider the possibilities of these overlapping ecosystems, we can truly support students to flourish.

Continue reading the rest at www.languagemagazine.com

Please Don’t Call My Child a Third Culture Kid

Please Don’t Call My Child a Third Culture Kid

I grew up outside my parents’ culture. They migrated to the U.S. from India in the early 1970s and I was born in New York City at the end that of that decade. However, they, and I, were plain ol’ “immigrants,” first- and second-generation respectively. While, of course, migrants who plan on repatriating are usually called “expats,” and those who consider their move permanent are usually called “immigrants,” it is undeniable that these various words within the language of migration carry various connotations of race, place and class .

TCK “connotes a privilege that I don’t associate with,” says Sherisa de Groot, a writer and editor from Brooklyn and a first-generation Jamaican-American whose son, born in Amsterdam, is part white-Dutch, Indonesian, and Black. “I prefer the term ‘immigrant’ over ‘expat,’ so there’s no situation in which I would use the term ‘TCK.’ Besides, what is a child’s ‘first culture?’”

“TCK” was coined in the 1950s by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem after she and her husband, John, moved their family from the U.S. to India. There, she began studying American military, diplomatic, missionary and corporate families living overseas with their children, and determined that these families’ children had unique experiences: the first culture of their parents, the second culture of their host country, and the third culture of the expatriate community in that host country. Useem’s original frame of reference was post-war American families who had traveled overseas for work.

Useem died in 2003, but as professor emeritus of sociology and education at Michigan State University, she studied the effects of how such a childhood has an impact on the adult, such as their high level of achievement, their careers, their commitment to volunteerism, and their “international dimension.”

Today, in media and in popular culture, it seems to me, the “Third Culture Kid” continues to be lauded— Barack Obama, who spent some of his childhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, is sometimes hailed as the U.S.’s most successful TCK—while immigrant children are often portrayed as potential terrorists or burdens on the system. That’s why the term makes me so uneasy.

Although the exact number of children being raised outside their parents’ countries is unavailable, an estimated 232 million people currently live outside their country of origin, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights . And given an increasingly global economy, that number can only grow.

So is it time for me to redefine a term, especially as fewer and fewer traditional expats and their children—the sort of folks that Useem might have recognized as TCKs—migrate to Asia , or to reject it altogether?

Maitri Erwin, a geoscientist and writer who was born to Indian parents in Kuwait and now lives in Houston, believes […]

Continue reading the rest at www.wsj.com

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

I’m a parent of three children, ages 8, 10, and 13, with mixed identities. We’re Brown first- and second-generation Americans descended from Indian and Pakistani immigrants.

As a result, I’ve been keenly aware of how my kids are relating to their identities as they engage in their own paths of self-discovery.

Each has grappled in their own way with understanding how they “fit” into their surroundings. They code-switch and accentuate aspects of their identity like race, family background, and family culture to better assimilate in their communities.

When we traveled around the world as a family for a year, we all got a lot of practice in code-switching techniques. In each country, we accentuated the aspects of our identity that helped us assimilate, to be included by the community as one of their own instead of transactional tourists.

For example, in the 4-plus months that we traveled through Central and South America, we leaned into our Spanish-speaking skills and brown skin to facilitate friendships with locals.

In Cuba, we were proud when we were mistaken for Cubanos and relished an Indian shopkeeper’s delight when our bargaining language switched from Spanish to Hindi.

We loved feeling like locals but were aware of our differences, a balance that kept us culturally humble and hungry to learn.

The feeling of inclusion is powerful, yet it’s easy to take for granted when you’re used to it. Perhaps the best way to capture the power of inclusivity is to remember the painful feeling of its opposite.

Recall the hurt of realizing you weren’t invited to the birthday party or weren’t welcome to sit at the “cool” lunch spot at school. Remember those moments when you weren’t let in on the secret or didn’t get the “inside joke” that others shared?

Exclusion stings. It makes us feel like we are the “other.” We aren’t extended the acceptance, approval, and empathy afforded to those who are included.

In addition to the feeling of exclusion, we can look to science. Research tells us that social relationships affect a number of health outcomes, including physical and mental health.

A sense of belonging makes us feel that we aren’t alone, increasing our ability to cope more effectively with hardships. In other words, the stronger the connections and ties are to the communities we’re exposed to and identify with, the more resilient and empathetic we are likely to become. Here’s the catch. If we find inclusion and a sense of belonging only in like-minded people, we perpetuate implicit biases and discrimination. Put another way, creating “inclusion” through the act of excluding others falsely empowers a few while harming the larger community. For instance, the concept of patriotism hinges upon whether someone […]

Continue reading the rest at www.healthline.com

Kids Bilingual Immersion Gamified Educational Program Chinese English Announced

curaFUN announces its new emotional development and social resiliency subscription program for children in English and Mandarin Chinese. The program helps kids aged four to 11.

curaFUN, a youth-centered organization for native Chinese, American-born Chinese, and overseas Chinese worldwide, announces its gamified subscription programs for emotional development and wellness for children aged four to 11. Subscriptions include interactive activities that teach children social and emotional life skills in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

More details can be found at https://www.curafun.com

The newly announced subscription service aims to develop well-rounded and globally competitive children who are proficient in both English and Mandarin Chinese. The virtual programs use gamified activities and real-life interactions so that children become comfortable in speaking and interacting with their peers in both languages. The activities are offered in English only, Chinese only, and English and Chinese options.

Understanding and speaking in more than one language has many benefits. According to the latest financial reports, bilingual workers earn as much as 20% more than those who can only speak one language. Further, neuroscience research has found that the brains of bilingual and multilingual people have stronger brain connections.

curaFUN developed its emotional wellness games to further the educational programs available for Chinese who want to improve their English skills as well as English speakers wishing to perfect their Chinese. Their programs train children to develop social competency which helps them interact with their friends in either language.

The subscription program features 23 – 30 progressive levels and more than 20 hours of gameplay. The online A.I. powered games cultivate a growth mindset in children, teaching them leadership skills and building their emotional wellness. The program is recommended for children in pre-kindergarten through Grade 5.

curaFUN emphasizes that its program builds on existing educational offerings that are solely focused on building subject-specific knowledge. They say that children need to strengthen both their IQ and EQ to become well-rounded and competent adults.

The program may also have therapeutic benefits in the early detection of ADHD, anxiety, and autism.

“To thrive in life, your child must possess a solid foundation of social-emotional skills that empower them to learn and connect,” the organization writes. “Children also get a head start on leadership insights and negotiation tactics.”

Interested parties can find more information by emailing info@curafun.com or visiting the above-mentioned website.

Multilingual Creative Writing Contest For Children Launched

curaFUN, a nonprofit promoting inner strengths and multilingualism in children of Asian communities, has launched a creative writing contest featuring inspirational stories for the youth.

curaFUN, a US and Taiwan based nonprofit dedicated to the emotional and mental development of children in Asian communities, has launched a multilingual inspirational writing contest for youths ages 6 to 18.

More information can be found at https://www.curafun.com

Dubbed “Shining Moments”, the writing contest aims to provide kids with a positive and inspiring environment amid the challenges they have been experiencing over the past year.

Participants are asked to share stories of moments, whether their own or someone else’s, when inner strength triumphed. curaFUN hopes the stories will inspire other kids to act with the inner strengths of cooperation, self-discipline, communication, resilience, empathy, and multilingualism.

The entries may be written in any language. However, an English translation, whether done manually or through a translation app, has to accompany any entry written in a different language.

Contestants get the chance to win a cash price of $100 USD, which can be redeemed via a Visa gift card, or a gift card from a popular merchant.

Entries may be posted at the Shining Moments page https://www.curafun.com/shining-moments and may be “liked” and commented on. The story with the most number of likes by 1:00 pm PST on April 15, 2021 will be the winner. A leaderboard will be posted on the Shining Moments website starting in March.

According to a spokesperson for curaFUN, “The past year has challenged most families more than anyone could have imagined. We’ve also witnessed that words are powerful, in both positive and negative ways, and we can decide how we use that power.”

Individuals over 18 years, as well as those who prefer not to join the contest, may also share their own stories on the Shining Moments page to contribute to curaFUN’s message of positivity and to encourage the development of inner strengths in everyone, particularly the youth.

curaFUN offers evidence-based programs aimed at building inner strengths and developing multilingualism, particularly English and Mandarin Chinese, in youths of Asian communities around the world. The nonprofit’s founders believe success in life can only be attained by a good balance of EQ (Emotional Quotient) and IQ. The programs are available on subscription basis in English and Mandarin.

Interested parties can learn more from the website given above.

How do I submit an entry for publication?

All you need to do is click on the Tell Your Story link on the Shining Moments page.  We accept any  original writing about a moment (yours or others) when one or more character (inner) strengths triumphed and helped you.  As an organization promoting multilingualism, curaFUN accepts entries in any language from anyone, anywhere in the world aged 6 – 18.  However, contestants to the Shining Moments Writing Contest submitting entries in languages other than English should also submit an English translation (machine translation like google or DeepL will do.)

For those over our writing contest’s age limit of 18 or competition shy, you don’t have to submit for the writing contest.  Recounting a successful experience boost your mood, self-image and your words might be exactly what someone in despair needs to hear!  You can go to this page to read the motivation behind the Shining Moments contest.

Contestants may submit their Shining Moments stories and enter the contest at https://www.curafun.com/shining-moments/.