Saturday, March 16, 2013

Another "Family Heritage" Project

Four kids = at least 8 "family heritage" projects so far.

And sorry to say, because maybe it's not a good mom statement or "cultural"person statement, but I kinda get tired of doing them.  I know that they are supposed to celebrate diversity and recognize different heritages and all those wonderful, world-wide lessons.  I'd like to have my kids scribble Langston Hughes' "Theme for English B" on the poster board and recite it, but I don't think that would be acceptable.

The roofline of a Korean palace - I love the colors and design.
My son is working on his now.  There's questions like "what country is your family from", "who in your family is an immigrant," "how did they immigrate here,""what language does your family speak," "describe what do you do to celebrate your heritage," "describe the holidays and dress of your heritage."  As a family with mixed heritage, my kids have a couple of options.  My kids select the Korean family lineage for these projects, because that's more in line with the goals than a poster about North Carolina. (We won't even discuss the incident in which the teacher suggested my child choose some African country instead.)

My kids are partly 2nd generation Americanized-Korean.  As infants, they had 100 Day celebrations and a big first birthday, my mother does cook special foods on New Year's Day, and we regularly eat Korean food.  Do you see a theme?  Our Korean-ness is mostly about food.  The kids don't speak the language, I do only at a basic level, and we don't really celebrate any special occasions. My mother does recognize days such as the lunar new year and the birth or death days of her family members, but the kids rarely do.

The direct immigrant questions are easy.  Annually, they discuss whether I actually am an American citizen or not and can I run for President.  Yes and yes and no, you can't see my birth certificate.  For language, they write "English" although that doesn't answer the point of the question.  They only know basic commands in Korean, "come eat," "come here," "stop talking," "go to sleep" - the essentials of a childhood, so they can't honestly say we speak Korean.

To the other questions, they write answers like "we celebrate Christmas and Easter," because we do, but as I explain to them, that's not because we're Korean, that's because we're Christian.  How about "we eat black-eyed peas and rice on new year's day - with mandoo (dumplings) and rice cake soup"?  That's a more accurate picture of who we are, yeah, write that.
A bowl of Korean rice cake and mandoo soup.
Granted, part of my tiredness of this project isn't the project itself. It's being asked the question, "so, what are you" for over 30 years. I'm proud of my heritage, no doubt, but sometimes I get tired of being asked by random strangers (and yes, I do get asked by random strangers). "No, where are you really from?" "Oh, where is that?" "What do they speak there?" "Say something." Yeah, I love my Korean self, I just get tired of the interrogations.

But for all that, as my son was working on his questions the other day, I realized the best part of the project. My kids sitting with their grandmother as she explains something only she can - her heritage. And no matter how many times she's gone over these same questions with each kid, she doesn't seem to get tired of telling them all about their distant ancestoral home.  And they don't get tired of listening.


Ayanna said...

Great post!

Mommyx4 said...

Thank you for reading!