As an adoptive parent to two children born in Guatemala, I’m often asked how I keep our children’s culture alive. After first repeating how important culture-keeping is for our family, I list some of what we do: Study Spanish, collect and study Guatemalan arts and crafts, follow Guatemalan politics and current events, listen to Latin music, eat Central American food, attend culture camp, visit Guatemala.
But is this enough? I often wonder what else I can do to keep my children’s birth culture alive.
That’s why I was very happy to find a related article by first-generation, Colombian-Argentine writer Jennifer Lubrani, a contributor to Travelojos, The Latin American Travel Blog. In the piece, ”My New Year’s Resolution: Get Cultured,” Lubrani describes the five ways she vows to learn more about her culture this year.
Learn the language.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Comida, por favor.
Reading Lubrani’s list made me feel better about our efforts. Except for studying Latin dance, we are doing everything she recommends. (2011 may be the year we finally sign up for salsa.) It was also nice for me to read that even for Lubrani, growing up in a Spanish-speaking home with two biological parents, culture-keeping remains a challenge. Another good point Lubrani makes is that each Latin culture is unique, different from every other. Guatemala is not Mexico, nor is it Costa Rica. Lubrani writes:
I’m a first-generation Colombiana/Argentina. My parents migrated to New York from South America many años ago. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught and encouraged my siblings and I to keep traditions and customs from their homelands.
As a result, I’m bilingual and I can speak to you as if I were a bonafide “Rola” from Bogota or transition into sprinkling lots of “che” into my conversations as if I were a native Porteña from Argentina.
I’ve also come to appreciate the many traditions that are shared between both countries such as a passion for fútbol or making sure family comes above all else. However, I’ve also learned cultural aspects that make these two countries seem worlds apart.