December 6, 2018

Food for Thought

This is a bowl of soba noodle soup I made at home. If you grew up in a Japanese home, you would be familiar with it because it’s easy to make. Naturally, you would never see it in a typical white American home. I actually lived with a typical white American family for 2 years when I was in high school. In retrospect, what was priceless about that experience was, not the experience of a different culture, but of a different family. The vast majority of people have never experienced what it’s like to have different parents. All they know about family life is their own family they grew up with. They can only compare their experience with secondhand information like TV shows and novels.

I think we should do kid swapping where we simply swap our kids with other families for a year. When this is done with a family in a different country, it’s called “exchange program”, but why not just do it within the same city? Both parents and kids can learn a lot from that experience.

In one episode of “Fresh Off the Boat,” there was a scene about how Chinese people don’t use dishwashers even if they have them. I have a Chinese friend who doesn’t use it either even though she grew up here. Even if you are a second generation American, you assume as the norm a lot of your family protocols and conventions because you have nothing else to compare them to. Even if you have never lived in China, you end up carrying on a lot of Chinese customs in this way, and you might not be even aware that they are Chinese.

Likewise, even if you are a white American, many of the values and conventions you follow at home, that you assume are common, might be unique to your own family, and you might not even be aware of that fact. The only way to put them in perspective is to live with a different family. It’s an invaluable experience.

#soba #sobanoodles #japanesefood #japanesehomecooking #exchangestudent #nycfoodie #education #immigrantsmakeamericagreat