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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 was not raised in a bi-cultural family but I have interacted with other people from different cultures. When I was growing up back in Africa, my dad was associated with church commitments from being a pastor to  the church management committee. Since the church was an international one, we used to have visitors from Europe visiting the church. Sometimes we used to offer accommodations to the missionaries and that is how I got to learn about living with people from a total different culture.

Bi-culture family

Bi-cultural family

Africans practice a lot of customary trends like clothes, food, festivals etc. This makes it difficult for visitors from other countries to communicate when living there.

I came up with some few tips on how to get along very well living in a bi-cultural or bilingual setting.

Adjusting the language: Language is very important and is a form of passing messages. In Africa there are so many different languages. Different countries have  their own languages. English, French and Swahili are some few common languages spoken across Africa. If you are visiting Kenya where I come from, then English is the national language and a majority of people use it but if you have to visit rural areas then, language becomes a challenge.

Learning the basic things in a different language is crucial. Greetings, acknowledging, asking for help are the basic things ones should learn.

Clothing and costumes:- It will always be nice to try out a different clothing style or fashion of the new culture. This will make you have the sense of belonging and more so the community or people will associate you with themselves more. In my blog of AfricaUrbanWear I have posted on African clothes and costumes.

The knowledge of blogging I took from my instructor Prof. Bill Belew. Some styles may be awkward but believe me it is fun. Maasai is a culture in Kenya where they wear goat skin. I want to believe it will be very accommodating to try out.

Learn writing and speaking different language

Learn writing and speaking different languages

Trying out their foods: Foods are basically dictated by the culture. Being a bi-cultural individual means you have two sets of foods. This is fine. And you need to get used to both foods and have a sense of belonging to them. In Africa the food is more organic and fresh from the farms unlike the developed countries that have frozen foods.

Again some cultures might be eating something you consider to be “yucky.” But you might love it once you try.

In summary being a bi-cultural individual is very interesting if you can adjust to both cultures and you can fit in it.

As the old saying goes:When you go to Rome do what Romans do.”

It is the same essential philosophy that can help you get used to different cultures.

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


One Comment

  • Susan says:

    Hi, Samantha,
    Thanks for you post. I have spent a lot of time in Africa and thought it was very interesting. While you don’t say your family was “bi-cultural,” the African existence anywhere is indeed a multicultural one. This is especially so in the cities where you have people from all over and the dominance of a colonial language still.
    I would like to differ, however, with your comment that:
    Africans practice a lot of customary trends like clothes, food, festivals etc. This makes it difficult for visitors from other countries to communicate when living there.
    I don’t see how this makes it any different for visitors than anywhere else. Even within our own countries we learn to engage in different situations: school, work, shopping, funerals, parties, friends, strangers, etc. I have found it no different for me here in southern Africa than traveling in Europe or New York, which is more different from California (my home) than you may believe!
    Language, clothing, and food are indeed the basics, but to really learn to get along in different culture understanding the philosophy of the people is also key. I have learned a lot in southern Africa about the role of the family, how important children are, and connections to the ancestors. It has helped me to understand why Africans are slow to embrace concepts like individualism and homosexuality. In the long run, learning to understand where peoples ideas come from helps in any interaction you have with them.
    I hope you continue to learn about many different cultures and I wish you lots of success!!

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