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Where do I belong? Bilingual. Bi-cultural. Turbulence!

Where do I belong? Bilingual. Bi-cultural. Turbulence!

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Abashment.. addling.. befuddlement… bemusement.. blurring… Commotion… confounding..  discomfiting… dumbfounding.. embroiling, flap,  lather, mixup mystification, obscuring, perplexing,…perturbation.. pother… puzzlement.. stew… stirring up.. tangling… or in simple words – CONFUSION…!!! is all that comes to my mind when I think about the topic I am going to write about.

Yes… trust me, I had to look up synonyms from the dictionary for the word confusion in order to better describe my thoughts and put it across in any possible way for anyone to understand my situation.

no boundaries...
no boundaries…

I am from India and and we believe in arranged marriages culturally so the question of inter-cultural or inter-national marriages is totally taboo to me. At least it was… until I moved to the United States of America.

Since America is so multi-cultural and welcomes people of all and any nationality and race, it has become a meeting ground for people of different ethnicities who fall in love and raise families together.

I was in love once with a girl from the States once. It did not work out for its own reasons. Neither of us were to be blamed.

Maybe we weren’t strong enough or MAYBE THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCE CAUSED IT. I don’t know.

I want to believe so though. She was half Korean and half white. Her mom was Korean and her dad was white. Imagine if we had kids, they would’ve been quarter Korean, quarter white and half Indian and CONFUSED…!!

bi-cultural relationships
bi-cultural relationships

We were living together. We had a ton of differences big and small to cope with and compromise on. All those little things that were completely fine in her culture and the way she was brought up but what were a complete NO NO in my culture.

The food, the common language barrier, the dressing sense, the habits, friends, activities … everything was different.. in a good and bad way.,.!!

I see a lot of successful couples and I salute them because I can tell you, it is not easy. But if they did it is because they put in the effort, which i should’ve too.

But I didn’t.

Personally I think the equation gets more complicated when they have kids who start wondering and questioning their roots and belonging, something which might lead them to a very unclear and dangerous path as they grow up.

I think both parents should instill both cultures and expose the children to the blend of both the histories and let them decide which side they wanna take instead of rubbing upon them what they want them to believe. After all, love knows no boundaries.

Then why create them?

Love is in the air people. Don’t hold yourself back. If it is meant to happen, it will happen no matter what. The whole universe will conspire to get you what you deserve.

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Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

How to Raise Kids Bilingually in a Chinese and American environment

How to Raise Kids Bilingually in a Chinese and American environment

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Bilingual Parenting Isn't Easy
Bilingual Parenting Isn’t Easy

In order to learn second language, so many students in the world have spent tremendous time on studying.

After-school class, mandatory English classes, and language summer camps have always been popular over the years in Asia. As a dominant  language, English has been taught throughout the school years. However, the impact and final result from years of 2nd language teaching is still far behind the influence from a bilingual environment at home.

It’s such a privilege to raise a kid or be raised up in a bilingual family.

After 15 years of studious spirit in English learning, Dreamsbiz tried so hard to learn English back in Taiwan.

Fortunately,  Dreamsbiz was able to get comparable higher score than others on TOEFL and GMAT and to enroll in one of the worldwide best International Business Schools within the United States.

Despite high scores in all the language evaluation tests, I still lacked the basic knowledge of daily conversation in terms of American culture and history. Most of the 2nd languages mainly focus on academic or conservation-wide teaching. That also contributes to the situation where people do not know to express or get involved in the discussion properly.

How to raise up a kid in bilingual family?
How to raise up a kid in bilingual family?

When coming to the United States, I was not surprised at all to see the growing number of U.S. bilingual families. One of major factors to boost U.S. economy is immigrants. From 70′ to 90’s , there are several peaks of immigration in the American demography. For those families, how to raise the kid in bilingually or trilingually has been a very popular topic over years.

Recalling all the training when I worked in one premium English private pre-school, the principal and the entire education system had a very clear policy on how to teach and interact with pre-school kids.

Consistency is the golden rule to follow up along side education materials.

In reading Annie’s article – Raising Bilingual Kids” Benefits and Techniques,  she also mentions how important and beneficial it is for kids to be raised up in bilingual environments.

So, here are few tips I learned from my past professional training:

  • Language delay – Parents should expect kids to experience language delay as a result of their dual language environment. Though the confusion may occur in children in their early age, children’s learning and language will not be different with others who are from a single language family.
  • Human interaction – Many parents rely on the TV to be the main the language learning at home. It would be a big harm for how teachers in pre-school invest their efforts. TV is just a method to support your teaching. Human interaction is still thumb of rule.
  • Stop having stereotypes – Parents should stop inputting any good or bad stereotypes from other cultures. Learning language should be an adventure for kids. Set aside these stereotypes that you even don’t know when teaching these little angels.
  • One language along with one parent – It’s a beauty that two parents can speak two or three different languages. For example, kids only can talk with mother in English but with father in Chinese. In time, kids can develop the language patterns to accelerate their learning.
  • Being consistent  – Make sure to be consistent during the entire process to prevent children from getting confused.

Of course, there are more different techniques recommended by others. You may also think some creative ways as you can.

Please share.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

Some ideas about how to raise kids bi-culturally – the BANANA

Some ideas about how to raise kids bi-culturally – the BANANA

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

There is one specific word to describe those Asian kids raised in western culture: BANANA.

It is a person with yellow skin but has a white-person’s heart.

BANANA is not a good word; sometimes it’s kind of rude.

I don’t like it and I don’t like to simply categorize people by some simple codes.

But there are definitely a group of people which I bring attention to: those people who come from Asian families but are raised in western cultures.

All the outside world they contact from beginning are western: friends, schools and society. But when they come home, they meet their Asian families: those people who care for them most come from a different culture.

Bicultural-kissed
Bicultural-kissed

It could be they are facing growing up bi-culturally or it could also be culture conflict they need to deal with.

I know in most cases parents would anticipate their children to adopt into two cultures, go along with both of them and embrace them without much critical judgment. Well, we hope so.

I know some Chinese parents who raise kids in western world, like in America, would ask or even force their kids to the Chinese-language-learning classes, the Chinese-culture classes and/or the Chinese history classes. They expect their kids to know China, recognize themselves as Chinese, and be proud of themselves as Chinese.

But I also meet many kids when their Chinese parents talk to them in Chinese, they respond to them in English. The only Chinese they speak well or write well is their Chinese name. Other than that, they know Chinese as much as their American friends.

Well, even though the parents are trying so hard for them to adopt two cultures and recognize themselves well for their identities, we should also admit that the kids, especially when they are quite KIDS, the influence coming from their friends, classmates and teachers are as much as their parents.

When kids are kids, the importance of self-identity is as much as the importance of recognition coming from their peers and teachers. Sometimes, they rely on the peers’ and teachers’ recognition to build their own identities.

All of these facts make kids raised bi-culturally difficult. And it also means talking with them at home in Chinese and sending them to Chinese lessons are not enough. Kids need to recognize their own identities voluntarily, rather than by force. It challenges the parents to adjust their strategies to develop this recognition.

There are some interesting tips about how to raise a bilingual child in 5 steps

Wrote by: Bei He

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

 

The Roots of One of My Heroes are in the Ballad of Hua Mulan

The Roots of One of My Heroes are in the Ballad of Hua Mulan

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Daddy drives me to school every morning. It’s okay. Because I drive him sometimes, too. Crazy. He he he.

This morning I woke up hungry. I couldn’t help it. My belly made me do it. (Wake up!)

Ode to - Ballad of Mulan
Ode to – Ballad of Mulan

Problem was, when my belly got up it was still dark outside. I went to get mommy up and she said, “uhhh…”

Daddy said, “I will get you something.”

Daddy likes to eat and he knows what I like. Shantilly lace and a pretty face and a pony tail and … Sorry.

And sometimes he surprises me with something new, too!

Almost every morning, except when my daddy is somewhere else in the world – Bangkok, Vanilla (Ed. Manila), Phoenix, Carrots and beans (Ed. Carribbean) daddy I go to the park to play.

This morning it was too early so we snuggled on the couch and daddy looked up some information on one of my heroes. Mulan!

We do that sometimes – get on his baby phone and look up where Disney got his ideas for the princesses.  For example Princess Belle. And today was Mulan’s turn. You can get the Mulan video cheap!

Come to find out, she may or may not, probably wasn’t a real person. The idea came from a poem about her. But she was gone from home longer in the poem than she was in the movie.

I didn’t understand everything about the poem. But I did know the Yellow River. I learned about that in my bilingual Chinese-English school!!

It really is fun to learn!

Thanks, Daddy!

*From: The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry
By Han H. Frankel, Yale University Press, 1976.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.