Fun Ways to Go "Around the World"

Posted on August 05 2013

Learning about different cultures has a unique way of opening our children’s eyes to its differences and similarities to their own. In turn, they can learn to respect, appreciate and even embrace these differences. What’s more, this awareness and appreciation will help them understand their unique place in the world. The insights that an online high school student gleans from exploring a certain country’s culture also help make him more engaged in his surroundings and more open to the people in it who may have different cultures than he does. What’s more, learning about different cultures can provide a wealth of fun boding opportunities for the family.

As the summer months roll in, there are a lot of things you can incorporate into an online high school program to provide variety in the learning experience. With the flexibility provided by a virtual high school, you can actually hie off to another country to spend a few days of immersing yourselves in the culture. However, with a little bit of creativity, you need not grab your passport for the activities outlined here:

  • Learn a new language. The American Academy offers a number of languages under their World Languages subject area. Watch movies or listen to songs with your child to help him be more effective in learning how to communicate in that language.
  • Take classes that cover a particular culture. This does not have to be a language class. It can be any classes that help give you an insight to the culture your child is interested in. Depending on your child’s abilities, this can cover a wide array of subject areas. This can be ikebana or origami art classes, salsa, flamenco or meringue dance classes or learning how to cook a dish from a particular cuisine.
  • Attend cultural festivals. This can include music festivals, movie festivals or cultural exhibits. Cultural centers, museums and other civic organizations usually host cultural events.
  • Introduce your child’s palate to the country’s delicacies and dishes. Food is central to a country’s life and trying out food from a different culture will help give a glimpse of the locals’ everyday life. The internet is an excellent resource for international recipes. Nowadays, some exotic ingredients can be found in the grocery or in specialty stores. You can also try a new restaurant that serves authentic foreign cuisine. Talk to the waiter to have a description of the food being served. Better yet, research some of the popular dishes of a particular country to see whether a dish has a history and what ingredients are being used and how it’s best eaten. For instance, Korea’s kimchi was “invented” to help locals enjoy the goodness of vegetables, even during the winter months. Meanwhile, when eating Japan’s sushi and sashimi, you should be aware that there are certain rules of etiquette that should be followed.
  • Visit the library. Encourage your child to read up on a particular country. Check out travel photo books, journals, legends and folkore.
  • Learn about cultural diversity in the country. Along with learning new foreign cultures, it will also be good to have a deeper understanding of the country’s diverse cultural landscape. The United States is not called the “melting pot” for nothing. Plan to visit a certain part of the country every year. Celebrate cultural celebrations such as Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Day, Jewish American Heritage Month or Italian-American Heritage Month.
  • Research about signs and gestures and how they mean in various cultural contexts. Some apparently innocent gestures we have in this country can actually be offensive in other cultures. Have your child research these signs and gestures to understand why it’s okay to do one gesture in this country but not in another country.