Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Post - Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

Today's Guest blogger (my first!) is one of my favorite people, the lovely Cherrye.

Like me, Cherrye is an American living in Italy. She lives in Calabria with her husband, where they own a B&B.

Cherrye's a very talented writer (it runs in her family) and I loved meeting her and Peppe earlier this year. I felt kinda bad for him because Cherrye and I like to talk. Uhmm, a lot. ha

Her advice below is on point. Here's a link to her blog, My Bella Vita.

Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

"I remember feeling like a kid on a candy-crazed high during my first trip to Europe. I loved each new place more than the last and I couldn’t wait to get home and share these experiences with my family.

I wanted to take them to the top of the Eiffel Tower with me, share some homemade pistachio gelato with them and splash them with a bit of Nessie’s water from her near-frozen loch.

When I got home I was surprised to learn they didn’t care to climb to the top of Notre Dame and watching The Sound of Music was as close to Salzburg as they cared to get.

I didn’t get it.

I continued to travel and would report home with mom’s magnet, they’d look at pictures and that was that.
But when I moved to Italy it all changed.

No, it wasn’t them-it was me. I changed my approach to sharing and discussing my new culture and whatdoyouknow, they were hooked on Italy, too.

Here are three ways you can share your new culture with your old friends and family back home.

1. The Way to a Man (and your mom’s) Heart
… is still through food.

When I go to Texas I make a point of taking fun Calabrian ingredients they don’t normally eat back home. Sometimes it is limoncello, other times it is traditional Italian Christmas candy and often it is a new pasta recipe or homemade dessert idea they wouldn’t have tried on their own.

2. Education as a Weapon
Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. So why not start with your family?

When I started reporting on what I’d learned about Italy, the history of the buildings they were seeing in photos and how Italians do things differently than we do back home-my family started listening.

It wasn’t enough for them to just look at pictures. Once they understood the history and could appreciate the background, they understood why I love this country.

3. Lasting Impressions

If you are intent on sharing your new culture with your family, then take them gifts they can’t get in the states. For example, my mother now proudly displays La Befana
every year with her Christmas decorations and she uses her Italian porcelain salad tongs every time she serves dinner.

Credit: Clarita82 at Flickr

What other ideas do you have for sharing your new culture with your family and friends back home?"

Cherrye Moore is a freelance writer and B&B owner living in Calabria, Italy. She writes for aAffordable Calling Cards where they sell prepaid calling cards to Italy, and about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita.


City Girl said...

Love this post - Cherrye, you are so right on this. I have found the same with my family :)

Sonia said...

I always enjoy Cherrye's insights. She's got great information and is always entertaining.

alternatewrites said...

Nice post--if the food's good, I'm all in!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Glad you enjoyed Cherrye's post!

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Hi, City Girl! I'm glad it worked with you, as well.

Ahhh, thanks, Sonia.(blushing!)

Come on over, Alternatewrites. The food *is* good.

Thank you again, NYC/Caribbean Ragazza for letting me guest post on your site!

Anonymous said...

I am Italian and I live in the Netherlands, where I moved 3 years ago to live with my boyfriend.
My parents never visited me yet, and every time I tried to bring something home, like food or little presents, they never cared. I actually found food that I brought home in a Christmas package tucked away in cupboard, expired. They cannot speak the language and they cannot speak English for that matter-meaning that when they will come over, I will be permanently worried about them. They almost refuse to know anything about what goes on here-this sometimes makes me really, really depressed.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

cherrye - you're welcome!!

anon - I understand. Don't worry. It's hard for parents to let go sometimes. My paternal grandfather did come to see his son in the States but my maternal grandmother never did.

When they do come to visit you do you have other Italian speaking friends/relatives who can also show them around and help you?

oilandgarlic said...

I just stumbled across your blog and will definitely follow your adventures. I'm an American married to an Italian and we're planning to move to Italy in the near future. I'm nervous but also excited. I am amazed by people who move to other countries and have always wanted to be an ex-pat.

Right now we're living in Los Angeles, where I try to bring touches of Italian to our daily life. Obviously this is easier when your husband is Italian! When we move, I hope to share my new culture with my family. They really don't understand it and of course many people believe stereotypes.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

oilandgarlic - Thanks for stopping by. In my blogroll are several other American expats who live in Italy.

I found their blogs very helpful as I prepared to move to Rome.

I didn't experience too much culture shock because I knew about the good, the bad and the ugly before my move.