My youngest daughter had her first overseas trip before she turned two. We put her and her three-year old sister on a plane and took them to Thailand. You may ask, “What were you thinking?”
I will tell you what we were thinking. We were thinking it is never too young to start seeing the world. We were thinking it is important for our children to be exposed to experiences and cultures outside of their own. We were thinking there is nothing like an experience to teach our kids about the diversity of the world.
I grew up as a Third Culture Kid. I lived in five different cities from the ages of 4 to 14, and visited countless more. I celebrated Chinese New Year watching the fireworks on Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. I celebrated Guy Fawkes night on cold and crisp Novembers, all rugged up and walking down to my school in London. I have seen white Christmases and Summer Christmases. I can say good-morning and thank you in a myriad of languages.
I understand that some cultures value time in a different way, and being on time is not the be all and end all.
I understand that for some cultures bartering is an acceptable way of buying and selling goods. I understand that when walking the streets of Hong Kong, you walk fast and don’t make eye contact. (It’s not rude; it’s how you get through all those crowds of people).
I understand that there is a correct way to place your chopsticks. I understand that New Year happens at a different time for different people, as does Christmas.
I understand that the rights I grew up with are not seen as rights for everyone.
I understand that my little corner of the world is just a piece of the mosaic. And if I look at that piece in isolation, it is just a boring chip of pottery.
But, that chip takes on a new life when I place that chip in the mosaic of our world, and expand my focus. Then I see how that chip placed next to others that are so different, all work together to create something beautiful.
So I took my girls to Thailand aged 2 and 3. And we will be travelling many more places in the world. For although our little piece of pottery (called Perth) is beautiful, they need to get a bit of perspective to see the whole mosaic.