How To Keep Your Heritage When Living Abroad

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I’ve been living abroad for the past nine years. When I became a mother almost seven years ago, I promised myself that I would keep our traditions, and I would raise my kids to be proud of their heritage. For me, living abroad means that my children would eat Mexican food, speak the language properly, know our history and cultural events, and I would try and bring Mexico home everywhere we go.

So, here is how I keep up with these promises I made myself.

Birthdays: If there is a special thing your country does for birthdays, do them too. In Mexico, kid’s birthdays are sometimes a big thing, so I adapt that to my situation. I try to make it unique, so we do the cake, piñata, food for everyone, goodie bags, the whole thing.

Language: Don’t be afraid to speak your language to your kids. You will be giving them the gift of bilingualism, which not everyone has. Make them make an effort to talk to you and other family members in your mother tongue. It’s part of their identity and will have more benefits than you can imagine.

Cultural Events: If your home country embassy or consulate offers events, try to join them. Kids need to learn about their country’s history and cultural baggage. Plus, if you are new to the country, it could be an excellent way to meet people.

Food: Visit restaurants that sell your typical national or local food. We love going to Mexican restaurants, and even though we have our favorite spots, we like trying new places that sell Mexican food. I cook Mexican at home too, and sometimes I involve the children in helping, or I tell them that what they are eating is Mexican. Sometimes my meals include stories and memories that go with them, making it even more special.

National Holidays: Celebrate them! If you have friends who share your nationality or heritage, organize something with them, it’ll be more fun. If you don’t, then do something at home anyways. We celebrate Mexican Independence Day, Christmas (we do pre-Christmas parties called posadas), Children’s Day, Mother’s Day (for Mexican moms, it’s May 10th no matter which day of the week), so sometimes I celebrate it two times) and more.

And one final piece of advice, if I may, involve your children and the whole family in the process. If they see you feeling excited and proud of your culture, they will too.

Cultural identity is essential in a person’s life. It is knowing who you are by knowing where you come from. It gives a sense of belonging. Please share it with the people around you. You will be surprised at how many people are interested in knowing how other people live in other countries. This builds friendship, tolerance, respect, and above all, it promotes inclusion.

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Marcia is a Mexican woman, wife, and mom of a boy and a girl, who has been recently relocated to the USA due to her husband’s job. Together they have been living abroad since 2011 and expect to continue doing so in the future since they love traveling, making friends, learning new cultures, and exploring the world. She is a former elementary school teacher who is certified in TESOL and has many interests not only including education, multiculturalism, and bilingualism. She enjoys working on crafts with her children and as a hobby, she loves crochet, painting, cooking, and baking, for which she is also certified.