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I left my country! And now what do I do?

friendship, traveling, travel, friendshipday, croatia, international

How do I keep the contact with my friends and make new ones?

During several moments in the life of a nomad, expat, digital nomad or just a continuous traveler, we find ourselves submerged in effective memories. It’s normal to feel this way.

I believe that what surrounds us is the thoughts of how to keep our friendships or how not to be alone in our new destination.

On the occasion of the World Day of Friendship we took the time to talk a little bit about what to do when we see ourselves in a different country, with a different culture and often with a different language. Below you will find some nice ways to change the situation! Follow me!

A good tip to adapt yourself better in a new place is to find out about the habits of the country that you are going to. One of the biggest problems I realized is the routine. Those who are not newcomers do not know our difficulties. How about looking for people who are in the same situation?

Where to look? Nowadays, that the world is so well-connected, social media is a great way to network and find new groups. It can be a great start. Believe me, whenever I go to a new country I look for groups of the same nationality, people who speak the same language or who have the same interests. There are many groups divided by sports and even activities in common. I once met a group of people who came together to help each other on the challenge of how to clean the house with the variety of unknown products the new country offered.

A new country could mean a world of discoveries. Who better to talk than people who have been through it? Already, in this first contact we can discover many people with the same affinities, same routines and challenges. These people end up becoming our circle of friendship.

Language schools are also good places to bond with people in the same situation. Besides being very good to learn a new language, the local language can open many doors.

In some countries, these classes are free, subsidized by the government or cheap. It is worth checking.

Another nice tip: find out when are the national holidays! Many cities have a very nice cultural calendar. Promoting meetings with locals and expats, whether they are from work, friends of friends or someone you just met. It can also help you to know more about the culture and integrate yourself better in the new place.

Besides, many people are willing to help a foreigner and it could result in a beautiful friendship.

Backpacking in South America
Backpacking in South America

What about my friends who are at my home country? Usually it is cool to send photos and videos, funny little stories and events.

This helps our friends and family know how we are doing. Besides, it can always encourage them to come to visit. Which is always a delight!

Nowadays we can say that our circle of friendship is international and wherever we go we will have company. Being nomad has its advantages.


How about you, tell us what challenges you have already encountered in making new friends! 

Check our Instagram for the chance to win a Rafiki bracelet!

Written by Tábata Martín

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Purple Economy

Have you heard of the Purple Economy? The term has been used to define several different sections of the economy, but the definition I like is that it refers to the adaptation of the economy to human diversity in globalization and valuing the cultural aspects of goods and services. Well, this is exactly what we are promoting here at KITnDO. When we search for and purchase ingredients and mementos from countries related to our cultural background (such a country where we were born or raised), we are supporting the purple economy.

One of the many advantages of living in a large city such as New York is the availability of those things that remind us of our origins. As someone who has a Mauritian spouse and has spent part of my life in both Slovakia and France, I value that availability. We have a truly multicultural daughter, and being able to give her a taste of her roots – whether it is through Mauritian spices, Slovak candies or French books found here in the city – makes me grateful the purple economy exists.

There doesn’t appear to be much information about the economic impact of the purple economy. And indeed, it may be hard to pinpoint. While a restaurant may self-identify as serving Lebanese or Czech food – tax forms don’t call for that information. Besides, goods may be part of more than one culture – baklava can be found throughout the Mediterranean region for instance. A store selling Polish groceries in Philadelphia might appeal to Czechs, Slovaks, and others from Eastern Europe. The purple economy is a global economy and happily, the KITnDO website is part of that. We have listings for places found in the United States of course, but our international listings are increasing every day.

Another notable feature of the purple economy is the growing practice of Fair Trade goods being sold around the world. These are generally items created by artisans, though food items such as coffee and tea could be included as well. These items may be more generic – objects such as a pair of sterling silver earrings created by a member of a Hill tribe in Thailand or mittens knit by a Guatemalan – but they still speak to the concept of valuing the cultural aspects of goods. And more than one business has been built on this practice (e.g. Ten Thousand Villages, Rêve En Vert, and The Little Market to name just a few).

Do you shop on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to find hummus just the way your Teita (grandma) made it? Or search for bookstores such as Ten Thousand Steps or Albertine in Manhattan so that you can read to yourself or your children in your native language? Maybe you are going to buy some gifts from one of the pop-up stores at Christmas Village in Bryant Parc that propose a variety of items crafted in Tunisia, South-Africa, Peru or Indonesia. We would love to know how you “support” the purple economy.

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How to celebrate a multicultural wedding? Get inspired and learn how to blend cultures into one beautiful celebration

The decision to get married is one of the biggest moves a person takes in a lifetime. Nowadays, couples are free to decide how they want to celebrate this event. No surprise that intercultural couples have all the possibilities to express their cultures in a wedding in any manner they want.

Better than having your wedding quickly out of the control (you don’t want to follow the example of “Big Greek wedding” movie), you have countless ways to mix the cultures creating a truly unique and personal celebration. And since the wedding is maybe the first substantial step in accepting and embracing the culture between two partners, it is important to respect and to be receptive to the wishes of each other.

There are so many opportunities to incorporate your traditions into the celebration. We’ve created a collection of stories and ideas for multicultural weddings that could possibly inspire you to remember and to celebrate your delicious origins.

“In case of my Slovak-Mauritian wedding that we celebrated in France, we started to integrate symbols of our cultures already on the wedding invitation: maps, stamps, and local flowers. When we arrived at the reception place, a Mauritian folk group had escorted our first steps with traditional sounds of Sega music, under amazed eyes of our guests. We have attached the name tag for each person on a piece of cinnamon stick to indicate table sitting. Each guest received as a souvenir, a gingerbread hand decorated in Slovakia, with our initials and the date of the wedding. We had some Mauritian cookies on the dessert table, called Napolitains, that we managed to bring directly from Mauritius. And, we also decided to create our wedding rings by a Mauritian jeweler. Every detail of our wedding was just an expression of our personalities and origins. Since we got married after 18 years of living in our hosting country, France, the culture of this country was a dominant element, namely through the gastronomic point of view. After all, I think we’ve created a real intercultural experience for our guests.” testimony from Janick, living now in New York.

slovak-mauritian-wedding-paris

Fabio and Jessica succeeded in making a nice blending of Italian and American cultures for their wedding. In her blog article, Jessica describes with a good dose of humor how they managed to implement some of the American traditions into the traditional Italian church ceremony. Jessica talks in detail about some of the differences between their cultures and shows the solution that they’ve found to harmonize and to “marry” both traditions. For instance, unlike the Italian tradition, the function of bridesmaids in an American tradition is to help the bride throughout the ceremony, to be the support of the bride. Whereas, in Italy the bridesmaid play a more formal role of testimonies for the brides. So, Jessica decided to have 5 bridesmaids instead of traditional for Italy 1 or 2, and they all wore champagne colored dresses.

Tanya and Arun were both raised in London. However, Arun is Indian and Tanya has Jamaican and Irish origins. So, what did they make? A wedding that incorporated traditions from all the involved countries. The ceremony and reception took place in English. The bridesmaids wore saris. The meal included Indian, Caribbean but also local English dishes. The DJ played all kind of music so that every guest would feel comfortable to dance.

In this beautiful video, you can see how Thea and Rachit embraced Jewish and Hindu cultures in a two-day wedding that took place in the US. Both the brides and guests seem to truly enjoy following the traditional rituals of the Jewish and Hindu wedding.

Linda, wedding planner from Denver in Colorado, shared with us a story when an American couple with Irish ancestors, decided to remember their roots by tying the knot. This old Celtic tradition where the couples claps hands together and wrapped them by the cord, symbolizes their unity in marriage.

pablo-heimplatz-wedding

 

Some more tips…

This article could serve you as a check-list of the different aspects of the wedding where you can show off your culture.

Or you can get some useful tips from Piyali and Jon, who share their personal lessons they’ve learned about the organization of the multicultural wedding

Pinterest board of inspiration for multicultural wedding: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/multicultural-wedding/?lp=true

Wedding rings with Irish Trinity Knot: https://www.irishshop.com/irish-jewelry/irish-wedding-rings-bands-celtic-wedding-rings/trinity-knot-wedding-bands.html

As you might have already guessed, there is an uncountable number of the wedding customs around the world. Here is the selection of some traditions that may surprise you or maybe inspire you to use it for your own wedding celebration. In the end, who said that you have to follow the traditions only from your own cultural heritage?

Share with us your experience with a multicultural wedding. Did you implement your traditions into the celebration? If yes, how?

Or maybe are you getting married soon? Then let us know if this article inspired you to remember your roots.

Written by Maria Migalina

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What Is Cultural Diversity And Why Should You Care?

KITnDO’s mission, as you might already know, is to promote cultural diversity by helping everybody to perpetuate his/her cultural heritage through local connections. Since this is our very first article on the blog, we thought why not start with the ‘basics’:

What actually drives us to create the community, what’s the motivation behind this project?

Cultural diversity and globalization are the hot topics in the today’s political and social debate. Furthermore, as any controversial subjects, these terms arouse many prejudices and misconceptions. Understanding what entails the cultural diversity and globalization would be the first step in dealing with it.

The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity was adopted in 2001, as an aftermath of the events of September 11th 2001. UNESCO aims to reaffirm that intercultural dialogue is one of the prerequisites in order to prevent the ‘clash of civilization’ and to guarantee the peace. It was the first document of a kind which has addressed the importance of cultural identity, pluralism and this in the context of imminent globalization of the world.

What is ‘cultural diversity’?

Cultural diversity doesn’t have an official definition, it is as diverse as the term implies. The authors of UNESCO World Report generally define it, as the expression of the fact, the awareness that “there exists a wide range of distinct cultures, which can be readily distinguished on the basis of ethnographic observation, even if the contours delimitating a particular culture prove more difficult to establish than might at first sight appear[1]”.

The concept of cultural diversity encompasses cultures, civilizations and most importantly people – transmitters of the culture and civilizations.

“I was born and raised in Russia. When I was 19 I left my country, and came to France to study. Later, I have spent one year in the Netherlands, then I married a Mexican and we are currently living in Germany. How can I identify myself with one single place at this point? Can I ignore the presence of other cultures and civilizations? Of course, no”.

And if 20 years ago, this example could be rather exceptional and rare, today it is not surprising anymore. There is nothing new in the human migration. The cultural exchange exists as long as the humanity does. What has actually changed, is the ease of migration, the speed of culture mixing.

How can globalization be reconciled with the cultural diversity?

The globalization is oftentimes juxtaposed with cultural diversity, as the globalization is commonly associated with the homogenization of society. What globalization does is it impairs the link between the cultural peculiarity and the geographic location by bringing the distant influence into the immediate vicinity[1].

If it is indisputable that globalization involves a lot of risks, it does not necessarily equal the loss of cultural identity and diversity. Quite the contrary, under certain circumstances, globalization presents a source of opportunity for the “preservation and promotion of the fruitful diversity of cultures”[2].

To grasp that idea, one should take into account two statements:

1) Cultures are not fixed and self-enclosed. It is in constant motion and change. The static culture is actually more likely to disappear than the ever-changing one.

The cultural enrichment is possible through the exchange and dialogue with the external parties, e.g. outside the culture bubble.

To take an obvious example of the perpetual movement and exchange of culture, let’s look at the language. The language never stops changing, borrowing new words, concepts from other languages and still keeps its identity.

2) Globalization removes the cultural barriers and gives access to the diversity.

Cultural stereotypes are based on the intrinsic human fear of the unknown. They seek to demarcate one group from the alien other[3]. The globalization, however, reverses such process. As Daniel Rothkopf wrote, it “promotes integration and the removal not only of cultural barriers but of many of the negative dimensions of culture.”[4].

Never before had we such a wide access to the foreign goods, traditions, music, books, food, clothing style etc. It is so normal for us to live mixing the cultures, that we don’t notice it anymore. It has become a part of our culture.

blog girl unesco

Conclusion

Globalization, increasing migration, urbanization and all the challenges related to it are part of the new reality. The world has changed a lot in the past century and the links between different cultures, entities, and people are so close than ever before.

It is vitally important to find ways how to manage cultural changes effectively.

One can make it with the implementation of the culturally sensitive education, the diversification of the business, introducing new policies etc. But is it enough?

It might be easier for an expat or any other person who gets in a direct touch with a multitude of cultures to comprehend the cultural changes that the society is going through. However, it is not the case for everyone. There should be not only intercultural but also intracultural dialogue.

Instead of pushing people to accept all the cultural differences, we should unveil what’s behind the steel curtain, establish mutual and respectful dialogue, letting them make their own conscious choice about their culture.

It is only by being aware that the responsibility mainly lies on people – transmitters of culture – that the cultural diversity can be nourished, and the intercultural dialogue preserved.

Are you ready to take that responsibility over?

Written by Maria Migalina


[1] UNESCO World Report 2009, p.3 (The UNESCO World Report No. 2: Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. Executive Summary)
[2] http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13179&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
[3] UNESCO World Report 2009, P.11
[4] David Rothkopf, “In Praise of Cultural Imperialism,” Foreign Policy June 22, 1997