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Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

I’m Tulasi. My blog is about Arts and Crafts. Feel free to click here after reading this post on raising bilingual and bi-cultural kids.

When it comes to being bi-cultural and bilingual, I want to give myself as an example.

During my childhood till 5th grade, I lived in Libya. In this country, only few people speak English, not my mother tongue – Telugu.

Libyans speak Arabic. I had to learn to speaking Arabic when I went out. I had to learn to speak English when I was at school. When, I came back to home, it was completely different  because, I spoke my mother tongue Telugu and sometimes my parents used to teach me Hindi as well!. It’s 4 languages, that I know.

But, funny thing is, I’m not very perfect in any of these languages. It sounds complicated to me while writing this post. I felt nothing at all when I was growing up. It was normal.

Mom and Kid

Mom and Kid

My parents didn’t get trained to teach us languages. It just happend. At home, we used different words from different languages all the time. Sometimes neighbors freak out with our language.

Ex. In Arabic, Shikara means a plastic bag. In Hindi, Shikari means hunter. Hindi word Shikari slightly rhymes with Shikara.  I don’t even know what they call it a plastic bag in my mother tongue. Shikara means boat in Kashmir. Shakira is a Pop singer. Ha ha. This is so funny. I can find more words which match but, this is not the purpose of my post.

Bilingual and Bicultural - Kids

Parents teaching their kid

Libya is a Muslim country and I used to do namaaz with my favorite uncle or neighbor, Ali. He taught me how to do namaaz and I was his favorite kid.

When I came back to India during my 6th grade I saw all these people wearing completely different clothes and I also realized that even I looked like them. It was kind of a weird feeling.

It’s like Madagascar movie, where Lion, Zebra and other friends in zoo escaped to Madagascar and they meet this funny king with an Indian accent. 😀

I had to go to temples after going to India. I didn’t understand which god to follow. Then, I started questioning myself about god. What is god by the way? Why many gods? Different cultures? My parents are well educated and they are more practical. I like the answers that my dad gives me. I would like to share one with confused kids like me. He said not to worry about which face to pray. All we need to do is follow what god asks us to do. All the holy books pretty much say the same thing – Do Good and Be Good. That was so simple. I don’t really believe in god but, I try to follow what is said in the religion.

I say that, bi-cultural or bilingual kids will have many additional questions for which they seek answers. It is very important for parents to show a good path to kids by answering it correctly instead of trashing those questions as silly ones. If we teach them to respect all cultures, then kids will understand what is going on with the world. I still remember, what mom and dad told me to do when I’m stuck in few situations or troubles. Those small little lessons save me now.

Also read this amazing blog post about raising bilingual kids – Click here. I wanted to write my personal experiences after reading this post.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.


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