Every year the topic of culture is broached at school with the kids. There is usually a lesson that extends to unity and inclusiveness and geography and I completely applaud the ingenious teachers who work tirelessly to point out that despite our seeming differences, we are all in fact, one. There are tales of extraordinary meetings – children who have parents of far flung heritage, where, when it is mapped out looks nearly impossible to have ever had the chance to meet, let alone overcome language barriers and fait difference in order to raise a family together.
I have read paragraphs written in careful phonetic detail about a single parent’s lineage that who rival most epic novels. Then there is the question/answer scenario that our children get… “Both of your parents were both born in the same County, in Florida, located in the United States of America. No one believes us when we tell them that and they look at us real suspicious-like and say where are you from ORIGINALLY…and then we say, FLORIDA”. I still have their attention until we get to the second question. This is where even more students branch off. “All four of your Grandparents were born in the United States as well”. Quickly followed by, “Six of your eight Great-grandparents were born in the United States and the other two were born in Italy”.
At this point, the other students have a practical lattice work of transcontinental travel, representing the journey just a few generations have made in order to land in the U.S. The rest of the project asks the students to “determine which culture you identify with the most, describe some local customs, mention local cuisines, holidays, methods of attire and popular sports”. I got jazzy this time around with “I would have to say our culture is firmly American – as the last four generations predominately were born here – Baseball is a pretty popular American sport 😊 I would have to say the most popular clothing in our (Florida) culture is flip-flops and maybe crocs! The fourth of July is probably the most famous of the holidays we celebrate in America! Again, Florida has a sub-culture of fresh seafood, grilled vegetables, sweet strawberries and watermelon – but most American fare includes: steaks, hamburgers, chicken, fruits, veggies, and of course Apple Pie!” (Let the exclamation point stand in for (WHAT DO I WRITE?!??!?!?!?!?).
When my daughter was practicing what she would lead in with, I could hear my steady and hospitality infused voice echo through her sweet words as she picked up steam. Stacked against kids who spoke of diversity and overcoming thousands of miles to come in to being, my little girl stands strong as she says “I am a proud Florida Native; both of my parents are too…” Apple and Key Lime pies all around….