Doowl Situhzen

Typically, I am not very open in this blog about my personal life. For the most part, I think I am just more reserved about airing our personal goings on, but this week I want to share a personal victory.

When my Colombian husband and I decided to have children we talked a lot about names -- we wanted something that would work well in English and Spanish. We talked about last names -- we decided to follow Colombian tradition and give the kids two of them. We talked about teaching them about our family's religious traditions. And, we talked about teaching them about both their US and Colombian heritage.

Teaching them the pledge of allegiance, experiencing the 4th of July, those things would be easy. They were going to be surrounded by US culture all the time. The challenge was going to be helping them to feel proud of and relate to their Colombian heritage.

We knew that the little exposure that we would offer could never make up for living in Colombia, but we were hopeful that our efforts added to our visits to the country would, at the very least, create a love of Colombia in their hearts and a feeling that somehow they belonged.

Our plan, at first, was pretty lofty. But, as the years have progressed, we have been able to establish traditions, adjust things that weren't working too well, and learn to appreciate the value of exposing your kids to more than one way of thinking. This month has given me 3 small victories that have let me know that we are doing okay.

#1 -- When asked where the kids wanted to go for summer vacation the first response was -- COLOMBIA!

#2 -- I took my 5 year old to the public library in our new town. Right by the information desk there is a huge globe -- as big as he is. He started turning it around and around. Then, he turned to the librarian and said, "Do you want to see my other country?" The librarian, looking perplexed, said, "Sure sweety, there are a lot of countries on that globe." My son gave her a quizzical look and said, pointing at Colombia, "That green one is my other country." The librarian said, "Do you want to know the name of that country?" My son looked even more confused and stated firmly, "I know its Colombia. They eat Changua there." The librarian looked at me and said, "Wow! Most teenagers can't find the US on the map, let alone Colombia. Did he learn that on TV?" Before I could answer, my little guy replied, "No, I am from Colombia like my dad. That is our other country. We have two countries in our family. Did you know there is a lot of gold there?"

#3 My oldest son, a second grader, was participating in a reading and writing assignment at school. Part of the assignment was to write something unique about yourself. Then, the teacher would read each student' s response in random order and the other students were to guess who had written each response. So, my munchkin writes, "I am a Doowl Situhzen." The teacher gets to his paper, and finally figures out that what he meant to write was Dual Citizen. She reads it out loud and the kids in the class all give her a blank look. She proceeds to say that Mateo could explain to the class the meaning of Dual Citizen. She reported that he was able to clearly identify what it meant to be a Dual Citizen and even offered to bring his two passports to class if everyone wanted to see them. The teacher later told me, "Most of these kids have never been out of the county, let alone the country. I can't believe that he knows so much about Colombia. He talked for five minutes about the food, the language, the animals, the history. It was great to hear about it. It was like a mini social studies class."

YIPPEE! Score 3 for our family!!


Sydney said…
Welldone, I wish to be able to do as well with my two kids !
Katherine said…

Just wanted to say that this blog is wonderful. My husband and I are on the Danish version of the ICBF waiting list, since we live in Denmark, but come from the US.

Congratulations on teaching your kids about "their two countries." We work hard to teach our biological daughter about the US, and you've just given me some ideas about how I can improve. I like the "other country" approach. Right now my four year old only knows that there is a US and a Denmark, but I might have to incorporate the idea that she is from two places. Yes, it will be even more fun when we have three countries to contend with, but why not?

Thanks for the great blog.
Anonymous said…
You are a rockstar Melinda! These are great accomplishments to celebrate!
Anonymous said…
so awesome!
valentina said…
We recently received our daughters American Passport in the mail. We were really happy to receive the passport as it marked the completion of her paperwork. At first I thought that would be it, time to move on - paperchase over! I was very wrong. As I put all of our passports away in a safe place it hit home again, we will never be done. I often write on our blog that together we live in a shared world, a part of two Countries - the USA and Colombia. We are honored to call Colombia home and do what we can to live between our two Countries each and every day. I am not really sure what that means but we try all the same. It is important to my wife and I and quite frankly, our two year daughter doesn't have a choice. We know one day that she will and we hope she adopts Colombia with open arms just as we have of her and her birth Country. When we boarded Continential Airlines from BOG to EWR last year a strange feeling of leaving home for home came over me. How is that possible? I have departed cities from all over the world but this time it was different. I guess arriving in Colombia as a couple and departing as a family is answer enough? What an amazing Country! Thanks for writting your blog, we love it.
Carolina D. said…
Good job Melinda!
Scott said…
What an awesome story about each of your kids! That is so impressive. My oldest son usually gets asks to do a Colombia talk every time his class studies South America. I know he takes a special pride in being able to tell others about his homeland.

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