Friday, January 09, 2009

Multicultural living forum on Shanghai Family

Hi everyone,
I recently got involved with Shanghai Family magazine, which has just launched its website. Check it out! And, for all you Shanghai people out there, look at the forums. I'll be moderating one on "multicultural living." I hope that we can get some good discussions going there. I've pasted my intro to the forum below.

You may be thinking, What is “multicultural living,” and why have a forum for it?

If you’re anything like me, when you move to a foreign country your first instinct is to think through the logistics: Where will we live? What schools will the kids go to? What do I need to bring? How do we get our visas? But I’ve found, after two such moves, that those are the easy things. There are resources available to help you make such decisions and a finite number of choices.

The hard part, for me, is learning to feel at home in the new place, to cultivate relationships with the people I meet there, and to feel like I belong as I move alongside strangers and go about my daily tasks. I find myself in a new place where even people’s gestures are incomprehensible, where they have different rituals and standards of politeness, and where I stick out like a sore thumb even when walking around.

And I’m not just talking about interacting with locals -- I spend just as much time trying to decipher other foreigners!

So on one hand, I suspect that there are a lot of questions floating around out there about the proper way to behave at a wedding, how much to put in a hongbao, what to bring as a guest at someone’s home, and the meanings of various rituals.

But there’s another side to the idea of multicultural living as well. I'm married to someone who grew up in a different country, speaking a different language and raised in a different culture, and we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to articulate and work with those differences over our marriage. And since want our kids to feel comfortable in both cultures and languages, “multicultural living” has been a kind of domestic experiment: how can we raise our kids to be able to move across boarders and feel at home in different places?

Even for people who are not in a cross-culture marriage, this may be something that you are interested in for your children -- especially for the kids who have grown up abroad.

So whether you have
- questions or insights about cultural differences living here in Shanghai,

- ideas or questions about ways in which to incorporate multiple languages and cultures in your own or your kids' lives

THIS is the forum for you!

Welcome to the forum, and post away!