This article was included in the Bassein East Indian Association’s Souvenir published in November 2018 to commemorate and celebrate five years of the association’s existence.
Note: We encourage you to use the suggestions mentioned in this article and the checklist contained within the accompanying printable to explore your communities and cultures – they are not limited to the EI community.
If you wish to use these suggestions/the checklist for educational purposes, we request you to inform us of the same.
Ten ways for you to engage with culture with the next generation
Let’s face it, we are time-poor and usually hesitant about spending our money on cultural pursuits. Unfortunately, our heritage is not going to preserve itself – not without our active participation.
With a little imagination and a whole lot of innovation, we can easily overcome these limitations.
Here are ten different ways we can work with our children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc. to commence a process of genuine appreciation of and engagement with our culture:
- Converse with each other in your mother tongue (but never scold them in it).
- Task them with finding the recipe for at least one traditional dish each week/month and cook it together.
- Visit elders in your family/village/building complex regularly for a chat and request them for stories from their younger years.1
- Explore at least one gaon/gaothan each month together.
- Keep an eye out for homework/projects/assignments that provide an opportunity to explore a particular aspect of your community.
- Join a local chapter of a community organisation. If your child is not old enough to accompany you but old enough to understand things, share takeaways from the meetings with them and invite their opinions on various matters.
- Dress up for any cultural events/traditional days in your traditional attire and have conversations about the history and cultural significance of your garb.
- Maintain a journal together. Fill it with obscure words, snippets about your family’s history that you may have heard from relatives, ideas for your community, etc.2
- Start chalking out your family tree together and attempt to trace your family’s role in local events and history.3 Also include explorations of other communities that populate the area.
- Children need to know why community and culture matter. When you engage with your own community not only culturally but also in a politically/socially conscious matter, you help them understand the importance of your heritage better.
Most of the tips mentioned here are the result of years of observing my parents, grandparents and their respective siblings’ interactions with community and culture.
Some of them however, speak directly from my experiences of trying to raise a culturally aware child in different country. I encourage you to try these out for yourself and experience the joy of rediscovering your culture with the younger folk.
You can share your thoughts and discoveries with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This list is also available as a free printable on the East Indian Memory Co.’s website: www.eastindianmemoryco.com/freebies