Welcoming Families From Around the World

 

This week we were given a scenario about being an early childhood professional who will be working with a child whose family has immigrated from Russia.  Because I do not know much about the country of Russia, I would need to do some preparations which will help me when the child starts coming to our program.  Here are some of the preparations that I would do:

1.        I would first do some research about the country of origin, I would try to reach out to other early childhood professionals who Live in Russia to learn more about what I could expect from this family.  I would also ask general questions about the culture, be I would keep in mind that the family culture may be very different from the mainstream culture.

2.       I would invite the family to come in and talk with me, I would need to know if I would have to get an interpreter, or find out how much English they may know.  When meeting with the family I could ask questions about their family culture and learn more about the child that I will be working with.  This will give me a better understanding of how we will need to support the child and what is important to the family for their child.

3.       Explore my own bias/stereotypes about this family.  I feel that after I have done research and have spoken with the family it would be time to do some self -exploration.  I would want to dig deep within myself to see if I do hold any bias, or any stereotypical beliefs. 

4.       After this I can then move on to setting up the environment so that the child and their family feels welcome.  Depending on how much English the child knows, I may have to learn some simple words in Russian, and perhaps label some items in the room.  I would have to find out how it would be best to communicate with the family daily.  Preparing the children for the new student would also be important as well.  Perhaps bringing in some books, or photographs of Russia, but remembering to keep a check on bias.  I could also ask the child’s family to being in some objects to help the child’s transition. 

5.       I would also encourage the family to visit the program with the child a few times before they start.  This way I can learn more about the child and his family.  By having them visit I can see how they interact together, and learn more about the child because I can ask questions.  If this cannot be done, maybe a home visit or two would be helpful.

I feel that by taking these steps I can help the family and myself be prepared for lays ahead.  I can get a better understanding of who the family is, and who the child is.  I also believe that by looking inside myself I can start with a “clean slate” and remove any bias I may have.  Many times, I feel that the process of children starting in new child care settings can be rushed, and the transitions are hard.  By taking steps prior, we can ensure that the transition may be smoother for the family and for the child. 

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

 

I have watched many movies over the years that have shown the horrors of oppression, bias, and prejudice.  I remember watching the movie Roots as a child and not understanding how people could treat other people the way that the owners treated the slaves.  But it was not until my early twenties that I saw a movie that would change the way I felt about prejudice, and the effects that it can have on the people who live their life hating others.

The movie was American History X.  It was a very powerful movie and a teenage boy and his family, and how this boy gets involved in the world of being s kin head, after an African American man starts to teach at his school.

In one scene, it shows the young boy talking to his family and being excited about the ideas this man has, then you hear his dad talking, and you can experience firsthand how children get ideas of prejudice from their families.  This hate transforms this boy into going to prison and then him learning that it is wrong to hate anyone.  He learns that those how thought were his friends, could turn against him to, while the people he “hated” were the ones who would save him.  In the end, he finds out that this brother has become a skin head, and has gone deep into the world he was once in. 

This was a very powerful movie.

As I watched the movie I felt like I could not understand why someone could have so much hate towards anyone.  It made my heart hurt, but I also feel that for the first time I realized how hate is spread. 

What I realized from this movie is that children learn what we talk about.  When we devalue people or groups of people they can hold on to these messages and then grow the same feelings inside of them.  We need to be careful about how we talk about others, and what messages we send children.  I also feel that this is not only an issue of prejudice, but also of bias and stereotypes as well.  As a teacher, I can show children that we are all important and that all people are wonderful!  This is a great example of how we teach children that we are all different in ways, but we are all the same as well.

Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

This week we were asked to share about some interactions that we have observed this week where we saw or detected microaggression taking place. 

Instead I would like to share my own person example of where I was the person who was the perpetrator of the microaggression and how this experience has changed my life for the better. 

As we have learned this week many people who use any form of microaggression may do so unconsciously or without the intent of hurting another person.  I feel that this was me.  I do not feel that I would ever hurt or try to inflict pain on anyone by using words with them.  I have learn how important the words that we use are, and I have also learned to think before I speak. 

One day at work I was having a conversation with some of my co-workers.  We were all sitting around eating lunch.  One of the friends that I was with at the time is my friend Priya from India.  We were taking about something and I made a comment to the effect about how people from India eat with their hands.  The next day Priya came to talk to me and explained how I had hurt her by the comment that I made.  AT this time I realize how I had hurt her, and how I was using very stereotypical language with her.  I am so glad that she came to talk to me, and that she explained how it hurt her.  I am glad that she did not hold it in. 

As a result I feel that I am more careful about what I say to others concerning their culture or diversity.  I make sure that when I am saying something that it is not bias, nor is it built on a stereotype.  I even find myself examining my thoughts in this way.  I think that many times many of us say before we think, and while we do have great intentions, may say things that hurt others.