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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting to Know the World: the Kumari Devi of Nepal

Wow! Just when you think you've seen it all in this great wide world, you stumble across something that surprises you. Without commentary or interpretation, I present the concept of "Kumari Devi," or a "Living Goddess" of Nepal.

public domain photo by Clemensmarabu
According to this theworld.org interview with Sonia Narang (listen here), a Kumari Devi is "a young girl who is chosen as young as 3 or 4 years of age. She is actually revered as a goddess. (Some) believe her to have the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga in her body. There are actually a number of Kumaris in Nepal. Each community has their own living goddess, and the locals will come out and seek her blessings."

As for the selection process? Narang describes it as "quite intense. The highest caste girls from the community... are all assembled when it's time to choose a new living goddess. The temple priests put them through a series of tests. They are evaluated for their looks, and also for their fearlessness." The fearlessness is apparently tested by having the candidates, individually, enter a dark room with severed animal heads, spending several hours or even all night there, while maintaining serenity befitting of a goddess.

And the life of a Kumari Devi? Narang tells us that a Kumari "is not allowed to go outside and play with other friends. She is confined to her house. She is allowed a tutor in recent years. She leads a very isolated life." She will leave the home for rare ceremonial occasions, at which time she will be carried, so as her feet never touch the ground.

Narang adds, "You're actually a Kumari until you hit puberty. So these girls will end their term when they're 12 or 13... and they revert back to a normal life. They become a mortal again, at which point a new Kumari is selected."

Read more and view some fascinating pictures here.

This is so far beyond my scope of Western exposure, that it really leaves me wondering:

What surprising customs have you encountered in your travels?

HT to Kathy for this one!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pinterest Scavenger Hunt - July 21 Clue!

Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

The Pinterest Scavenger Hunt is in full swing! This contest is sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs to celebrate the official launch of our website. The Scavenger Hunt will run from July 15 to July 28. Participants have until July 31 to submit their entries, and the drawing will take place on August 1. (Details about the Scavenger Hunt can be found below.)
You could win one of four fabulous prize packages!

Today's Clue:

"The Sound Effects of International Food"

Now take a look around this site and try to find the post that fits the clue. Once you think you've found it, pin it to the Pinterest Board you've created just for this contest. Be sure to pop over to MotherTongues for the other clue for today. 
Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom for more chances to win!

How to Play:

  • Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board "Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt." 
  • Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed. 
  • Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue. (Any image from the post is fine). 
  • In the Rafflecopter below, enter the link to the Pinterest board you created for this contest. 
  • The Rafflecopter will also have lots of other ways to earn extra entries. 
  • The only required entry is the link to your Pinterest board. 
The final clue will be given July 28. Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards. The drawing will take place on August 1. Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

Please note: You can enter the Rafflecopter at any point during the contest. Obviously your board won't be complete until the end of the contest, but you can enter the link in the Rafflecopter before then. If your name is drawn at the end of the contest, your board will be checked at that time.Good luck, explorers!

Our Fabulous Prizes

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value $128.74)

Language Learning Box Set 3 DVDs) from Little Pim ($49.95): The Little Pim Box Set Volume I is a great way to introduce young learners to over 180 words and phrases in the language of your choice related to daily routines, food, and playtime! Winner can choose the language of the prize from among those available from Little Pim. (US Shipping Only. If the grand prize winner is located outside the US, the Language Learning Box Set will become part of the 1st prize package).
Little Pim Spanish Box Set Vol. I

3 Month Subscription from Little Passports ($41.85): Little Passports is a unique subscription based service that can take your family on an adventure to learn about culture and history from all 50 states and across the world. With this educational, monthly package, kids will become excited about geography, history, and culture by following the world travels of characters Sam and Sofia on their magic scooter! Winner chooses between World and USA editions.
LP World Explorer Kit

Luke's Beach Day storybook from Kids Yoga Stories ($15.95): Yoga-inspired story set on an Australian beach.

The Skin You Live In book from Squishable Baby ($16): A book that celebrates the beauty in all of us.
The Skin You Live In_Large
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99): A well-researched yet highly readable book on raising bilingual children.

Visit the Scavenger Hunt main page for a full list of additional prizes!

Scavenger Hunt Schedule

Visit the Scavenger Hunt main page for a full list of clues as they are revealed.

July 15
July 16
July 17
July 18
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 24
July 25
July 26
July 27
July 28
Final day to enter the contest is July 31, 2013, at midnight PDT. Drawing will take place on August 1, 2013.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 19, 2013

We Won the Lottery!

Yes, you read that right: we won the lottery!

Unfortunately, it wasn't the state lottery that brings in millions (probably have to play it to win it)... but it was almost as good: we won the school district lottery to get Mag into our district's dual language immersion program! We are so thrilled to be able to offer her all the benefits of bilingualism, without having to take on the full burden of language instruction and immersion ourselves.

Of course, the funny part is that the program is Spanish immersion. After 3 years of sneaking French into our daily routine, and a short focus on German, Mag will now be surrounded by Spanish for 8 hours a day.

I have a feeling Mag will be exhausted for a few weeks. So I am slowly trying to give her more and more Spanish exposure now, in the hopes that the cognitive overload won't become emotionally overwhelming at the advent of the school year.

Here is our newest activity, which would work well for any family introducing basic Spanish to kids ages 3 and up. (Also great for classroom use, too, of course!)

click image to see these activities in my TpT store

This pack includes activities and a game for learning numbers 0-10

Use ice cream scoops and cones to practice matching numerals to written numbers, numbers to 10-frames, and numbers to scattered configurations

Make even/odd cones, and sort cherries onto even/odd sundaes.

Try these activities at the tabletop, or with magnets at a magnet board, or with velcro on paint stirrers (which is our favorite).

This pack also includes an 11-card set of the super fun "Yo Tengo... ¿Quién Tiene?" ("I Have... Who Has?") game, with game play directions in Spanish. (If you don't read Spanish, see English directions below.)

This pack is also available here in FRENCH!

"I Have... Who Has?" Game Directions
  • Hand out a card to each player. Players will get more than 1 card if fewer than 11 people are playing. It is important to use all the cards in the set. 
  • Choose a person to go first, and have him read his card aloud. E.g., "I have 10. Who has 6?"
  • The person who has the card with the answer reads that answer aloud: “I have 6”. This person will then read the question at the bottom of his card, "Who has 3?"
  • Then the person with the card that answers that question responds. 
  • Every card in the set is connected to a card before it and a card after it. 
  • Play continues in this fashion until all of the cards have been played. The game will end with the same person who started play.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Slupring and Burping Around the Globe

(All food and flag images in this post have been released to the public domain.)
Having married into an Asian/Islander family, I am often reminded how different table etiquette can be across cultures. As a child, I was overtly taught to chew with mouth closed, don't slurp, etc. My husband's culture doesn't overtly teach eating etiquette, but children learn through observation that a certain degree of sound effect is acceptable, even polite, when eating. What might seem to be lack of manners in one culture is actually another culture's version of showing approval for the meal. 

My cross-cultural dining/marriage experience has got me fascinated with table etiquette across the globe, beyond the stereotypes that we've all heard about burping and slurping at the Chinese table. 

So I asked a few of my fellow world travelers and multicultural bloggers about their world dining experience:

Tagine-cooked chicken & vegetables
Amanda at MarocMama has a helpful list of to-do's and to-don't's about eating Moroccan-style, including: do wash your hands before eating, do not use your left hand for eating, do not use the same piece of bread for a second dip into the communal dish, do eat from the section of the communal dish in front of you. Stephanie of InCultureParent learned that last one the hard way, when, at the end of a big family dinner, her Moroccan husband told here she had been eating a great uncle's food the entire night!

gobi aloo, seekh kebob, beef karahi
When CoreyAnn of Adventure Bee married a Pakistani, she learned to eat many more foods with hands rather than silverware. Naan or other breads are often used as the main carrying tool for food from plate to mouth, with some dishes allowing the use of silverware. Now in Malaysia, CoreyAnn relates that every little morsel is picked up with fingertips, including the curried & spiced dishes that stain the hands! Fortunately, there is often a "ketor" in place for rinsing the fingertips.

typical Nepali plate, divided into sections
Kathy, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, remembers learning a very specific posture of the right hand to be used for eating, but said that she could remember little else of the specifics of table manners in Nepal, for an interesting mix of reasons: As a Westerner, she was outside the "caste" system; being casteless defaults to being the in lowest class, in which case one would rarely be invited to eat inside a Nepali home. Rather, a dinner invitation might find you seated outside the home, even while being served the same food the family is eating inside. The occasions that Kathy found herself eating indoors with a hosting family, she relates that she cannot comment on eating habits, as she never looked directly at fellow diners across a table. Rather, Nepalis generally sit in a row on mats on the (dirt) floor, side by side with anyone else who is eating. It appears that in Nepal, eating is more of a utilitarian function of survival, not at all the social event it is in the First World, therefore dining etiquette is a non-issue.

Malaysian satay street vendor
Lawyer turned CEO of Travertine Spa Collection, and international foodie, Terry has eaten in Michelin 3-star restaurants around the globe. Yet his fondest international eating experiences have come from street vendors in Malaysia. Among other vendors (deep fried sweet potato balls, roasted chestnuts, deep fried bananas, fresh star fruit juice), satay vendors are everywhere, and each has its own unique flavor. Terry recalls regularly coming home from work, quickly changing into a lungi, and buying thirty sticks of satay (with red onion, cucumber and peanut sauce) to enjoy informal dinners with friends on a condo terrace overlooking the Petronas Towers. Despite the informal company, talking while chewing is seen as impolite, and burping at the table is generally not a compliment to the host in this country.

Costa Rican casado
Crianza of Spanglish House points out that there can be much variation by family, no matter the culture. This is certainly the case for Leanna from All Done Monkey. Despite the fact that Costa Rican families generally enjoy long family dinners (think: hours!) together, Leanna says her husband's Costa Rican family rarely eat together, presumably because it is such a large family that it is easier to eat in shifts.

some of hubby's fave Filipino dishes
Shift-eating is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around in the Filipino eating circuit, too. Or, more accurately, how one understands how long to wait before taking food when the host offers it. I have been plagued for years by the awkward uncertainty of the point at which it really is okay to take the food being offered. Somehow, though, I always do end up getting more than enough to eat!

Any funny or educational stories from your travel dining experiences?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bastille Day: la Course des Garçons de Café

Today is le 14 juillet, which we anglophones know as "Bastille Day," the day the French commemorate the storming of the Bastille. The most common images that come out of Paris on this day are from the morning military parade, which is the oldest and largest of its type in Europe, not to mention the quintessential images of fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.

But have you seen the lighter side of Paris on La Fête Nationale?

Je vous présente: la Course des Garçons de Café, or "the Waiters' Race." 

(Pardon the somewhat "unique" narration style or this clip. 
I think you'll enjoy this quick peak at the race nonetheless.)

Completed in standard servers' attire while carrying a tray typically laden with water or champagne and glasses, servers were traditionally disallowed from running during this 5 mile race through Paris. Over the years, the race has evolved somewhat, but still retains its very distinct Parisian flavor.

Today, this jovial but competitive race is run in many cities in France, en effet (in fact) in many cities across the globe. And indeed it is no longer restricted to the 14th of July. In fact, the biggest running of the race is possibly the May event, sponsored by France's beloved Orangina soft drink. But autrefois (in other times), la Course des Garçons de Café was traditionally scheduled on, or very near, le 14 juillet. After all, what says "let's celebrate France" better than waiters trying to prove who's le top?

Bonne fête!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coming Soon: Multicultural Kid Blogs Scavenger Hunt!

Remember summers of childhood, back in the day: endless hours outdoors, going on imaginary adventures, not a worry in the world, except maybe bug bites and sunburn? Once adults, those memories become larger than life, don't they? We long for those once-carefree summer days full of adventure.

Never fear! A tech-savvy, grown up summer adventure is on its way for the kid in all of us! Beginning next week, the newly revamped Multicultural Kids Blogs network is hosting a Pinterest scavenger hunt.

Over the course of 2 weeks, participant-adventurers will have a fun opportunity to visit many of the blogs in the Multicultural Kid Blog network, including Open Wide the World, in a search for clues. Adventurers will pin their answers to a special Pinterest board, and be entered to win some fabulous prizes!

More details coming soon... or head here to learn more now.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Facebook Fan FREEBIE!

Open Wide the World is finally on facebook! To kick things off on my new fan page, I'm offering a cute and quick color-matching activity, FREE to all new fans. Just like my new fan page, and the activity is free to download. Enjoy!

Facebook sidebar icon coming soon...