MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

What a beautiful rainbow world it is January 12, 2015

Filed under: Culture — Michelle @ 8:00 am
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I recently received a copy of the book Beautiful Rainbow World by Suzee Ramirez and Lynne Raspet to review. This photography book contains beautiful photos of kids from around the world, with the lyrics from a song by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. The song is available for download with the purchase of the book.

The song and photos share the deep truth that we may each look different, speak different languages and have different customs, but we make up a beautiful rainbow world. We are unique, yet similar. Our diversity is to be celebrated and enjoyed.

If you want your kids to grow up appreciating and celebrating the diversity surrounding them, I can highly recommend this book. It will make a great baby gift too.

This video shows some of the photos from the book. Enjoy, share, sing-along and smile!

 

Rethinking Junk December 31, 2014

Filed under: Be the change,Greener lifestyle — Michelle @ 3:55 pm
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During this break, I got the chance to read for fun again, something I haven’t done a lot since signing up to be a student again in August. I read the book Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter, and it opened my mind to the global world of recycling. Adam grew up as the son of a scrap dealer in Minneapolis, became a professional journalist and now lives in Shanghai.

Junkyard Planet

Recycling / junk / eyeopening book

The book explains what happens to our (recyclable) junk: e-waste, plastic, cars, metals, paper. It is not a pretty story, but it is efficient. Since our waste flows to the place where the biggest value can be extracted from it, and globalization made shipping from the west coast of the USA to China cheaper than shipping from California to Colorado, (think empty containers going back to China after delivering stuff) a lot of our waste ends up in China or other parts of the East. Cheap labor makes extraction and sorting of the valuable metals possible, something that would not happen here in the USA, where most of the waste would just end up in landfills if it wasn’t shipped elsewhere. Unfortunately, the extraction is not always done in a safe and healthy way, so there are two sides to this recycling story.

“Nothing – nothing – is 100 percent recyclable, and many things, including things we think are recyclable, like iPhone touch screens, are unrecyclable. Everyone from the local junkyard to Apple to the U.S. government would be doing the planet a big favor if they stopped implying otherwise, and instead conveyed a more realistic picture of what recycling can and can’t do.”

As an example, iPhone screens contain rare earth elements, that can’t be extracted from the glass. Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely. Plastic recycling is not very efficient either. Metals are different. Copper can be recycled indefinitely, but it is not always easy to get to the copper inside of a device or a cable. Thus the need of (cheap) labor, or (expensive) technology.

In the end, increasing the recycling rate isn’t going to save the world. We need to consume less, and waste less. Reduce, reuse, recycle: in that order. Or as Bea Johnson says in her book Zero Waste Home: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. Junkyard Planet doesn’t give us answers, but it shows how the global world of recycling works. It is a very interesting read, if you are interested to know what happens to your junk after it leaves your recycling bin.

 

About tongues and languages: mixed feelings about bilingualism September 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 1:14 pm

I finally had the time to listen to all of this amazing BBC program about Multilingualism. Bridget Kendall talks to three academics about multilingualism: the science of bilingualism, bilingual children, and also being a bilingual exile. (The answer to how many languages one person is capable of learning: as many as you can fit in a day!)

I got tears in my eyes as I listened to Gustavo Pérez Firmat, a bilingual writer and poet, talk about his experience living as an exile from Cuba. He describes how he feels different about each of his languages: English is his happy language and Spanish his sad language. I often think about this: I also feel like a different person in Afrikaans (more outgoing, not afraid to state my opinion) than in English (more introvert, unsure). Maybe it is because I moved to the USA when I was 25, and even though I could read English, I wasn’t very fluent speaking it. I wonder how it will be different for our children, who grew up speaking Afrikaans and English since birth.

You can listen to Gustavo Pérez read his poem, Bilingual Blues, during this interview. It was one of the program’s highlights for me.

Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones.
I have mixed feelings about everything.
Name your tema, I’ll hedge;
name your cerca, I’ll straddle it
like a cubano.

I have mixed feelings about everything.
Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones.
Vexed, hexed, complexed,
hyphenated, oxygenated, illegally alienated,
psycho soy, cantando voy:
You say tomato,
I say tu madre;
You say potato,
I say Pototo.
Let’s call the hole
un hueco, the thing
a cosa, and if the cosa goes into the hueco,
consider yourself en casa,
consider yourself part of the family.

Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones,
un puré de impurezas:
a little square from Rubik’s Cuba
que nadie nunca acoplará.
(Cha-cha-chá.)

So, download this podcast and listen to it when you have some time. You’ll learn why bilinguals get dementia about 4 years later than monolinguals, why it is a good idea to raise your kids with more than one language, and why a bilingual person’s brain has to work harder. Enjoy/Geniet!

 

Ouma Ruby’s Secret: book review of a South African children’s book August 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 7:28 am

I’m writing this review as part of the Read Around the World Summer Reading Series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Bloggers from around the world are sharing their book reviews of multicultural (and sometimes multilingual too) books for kids of all ages: Mondays are for ages 5 and under, Wednesdays for children 6-10, and Fridays for tweens and older. You can also see all of the recommendations on our Summer Reading Pinterest Board.

I’m recommending Ouma Ruby’s Secret, also available in Afrikaans as Ouma Ruby se geheim. We read the Afrikaans version at home. It is perfect for the 6-10 year old child. It will show a different world to them: where not everyone can read. About 16% of the world’s people are illiterate, and this book deals with the subject with compassion. It is the true story of a well-known South African author, Chris van Wyk, who describes how he found out as a young child that his grandmother can’t read. He was a book loving child who read anything that came across his way. When it was his grandmother’s birthday, he didn’t have a gift to give to her. So he wrote her a letter about how much he appreciates and loves her. When he asked her to read it aloud, he made the discovery that she can’t read. He ends up reading the letter to her. 

If you want to talk to your child about Apartheid South Africa, or illiteracy, or how poverty or political circumstances make it impossible for some kids to go to school, I can highly recommend this beautifully illustrated book.

OumaRubybook

 
 

I am from May 12, 2014

Filed under: Bilingual / Multilingual,Culture — Michelle @ 5:32 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve read other people’s beautiful “I am from” poems, inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon. I’ve always wanted to write my own, and when I saw that this month’s Multicultural Kid Blogs Blogging Carnival has the theme “Where are you from?”, I thought this would be a perfect time to sit down and finally write mine. Luckily there are templates to make the process easier for non-writers like me. So, here it is.

turksvye

I am from

I am from bright blue African skies and wide open spaces
From watching the rain fall for three days straight
From Oros and Appletizer and curry.

I am from the white house with the thatched roof,
With the sweet smell of wisteria hanging over the stoep during springtime.
I am from picking buckets full of wild proteas & calla lilies,
From the syringa tree on whose long limbs I sat reading many sticky summer afternoons.

I am from freckles and brown eyes
From Mike and Renée
I’m from praying before a meal and holding my thumbs
And from dropping in at five for a cup of tea and staying for a glass of wine and dinner.

I’m from keeping quiet when you get mad and “us” and “them”
And Cry the Beloved Country.
I’m from hiking in the mountains on Sunday afternoons.
I’m from Stellenbosch and Afrikaans,
bobotie and braaivleis.

I am from moving 8350 miles to a different culture,
crossing the ocean every two years to go home
And then not feeling like it is home anymore.

I am from living between two continents.

 

 

Multicultural Kid Blogs Travel Telephone February 17, 2014

Filed under: Culture,Travel — Michelle @ 10:01 am
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the Multicultural Kid Blogs Travel Telephone. We’re asking each other questions about traveling with our kids – one of my favorite things to do!

I’m in between Leanna from All Done Monkey, who is asking me a question, and Ashley from Family on the Loose, who is answering my question.

So enjoy our circular ride!

A photo from our fun travel detour, of the girls with our local guide on the Mayan ruins:

DSC_4354

 

World Cancer Day: do something February 3, 2014

Tomorrow, February 4, is World Cancer Day. I’m sure all of us have been affected personally by cancer: be it ourselves or a family member or a friend. Let’s stand strong against cancer on this day, celebrating the survivors among us and raising awareness.

So what can we do to mark World Cancer Day? You can find events around the world here, you can spread the Debunk the Myths message through Social Media, you can purple your profile (and Chevrolet will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society), or you can donate to the American Cancer Society.

I’d like to do something too. The MotherTongues Sisu t-shirt describes the determination to get things done against impossible odds. The Dancing Woman labyrinth on the back is a symbol of women’s strength and compassion. Normally, $1 of every Sisu t-shirt sold is donated to the American Cancer Society. For this week, till February 8, MotherTongues will donate $5 of every Sisu t-shirt sold to the American Cancer Society. The shirt is available in women’s cut and unisex tees, with a little purple in the design to celebrate cancer survival. Let’s do something!

Thanks for joining me,
Michelle @ MotherTongues

 

 
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