Before I pressed the button "publish" to my very first blog post I seriously held my breath for a second and asked myself, "why in the world am I writing a blog?"
Aren't there enough blogs and bloggers floating around in cyber space? Why am I actually joining their scary ranks of bloggers and opening a public blog? Introvert Me out of all people.... Introvert Me who likes to sit one in one with people, drink tea with people and exchange ideas face to face.
"In fact," I tried to argue myself out of it, "This is one of the very thing that's been on my Introvert Me's "NEVER TO DO"-list.
But hello, there, ....Here. I. am. Breathe. Paddling out to uncharted territory and feeling a little nervous. Reminds me of the day this summer when I ventured out into a paddle boat with my 2 year old sqeeking excitedly. We both had never done this before. In fact I didn't really think when I agreed and exclaimed "yes sure, I'll try it!" What in the world was I thinking?
So we drifted out unto the deep waters of a lake in Utah. Bid farewell with a a brief "bye-bye!" from the paddle boat worker, and pushed off the shore we were by a quirky summer job working teenager with freckles who I was pretty sure could NOT save me and this toddler for the death of her life....
But hey, I smiled, "byy-e!" with teeth firmly Presse together and with hands firmly grabbing those wooden paddles, and just kept paddling (see photo). "What in the world am I doing? I've never done this before in fact do I even know how to do this?" In my mind for a quick second I tried to remember if I had cellphone reception put on the lake and could pull up some YouTube videos on paddle boats real quick.
But how would that look and imagine I dropped the phone in the lake and ... "girl just keep paddling and you will be ok," reasoned my laid back Ghanaian side. So I relaxed and just kept paddling. Out into the open lake and back. A matter of maybe 30-45 minutes. And once I got the hang of it it was beautiful.
Now, why am I sharing this? Well, similar feelings just came up as I pushed "publish".
So, Why did I start this Blog?
Number #1 of the 2 very reasons why I needed to start this blog: To chart out into unknown territory, overcome unreasonable fears and call out to those on the shore to "come on out here!". The views out in this like just as the views as we are discovering beauty in diversity are absolutely gorgeous!!! And it's so wonderfully quiet, soul filling peaceful here. Floating in the middle of this tranquil lake feels like a piece of heaven. We get to observe all kind of wildlife I've never seen before or at least never been so close to before. Having paddled out here has broadened my world.
By publishing this post I didn't merely conquer those fears of the unknown, I also paddled a little closer to my recent goal of "learning something new every day".
Yet more than the pure bliss (or thrill or horror) of trying something new, I started this blog because the topic of discovering the beauty in diversity has been on my heart and mind for a long long time.
Number #2 reason I started this blog is because I saw that there was a huge need and desire to find beautiful diverse and authentic literature for young people. Friends repeatedly asked me what books to read with their students or children to bring a broader and diverse world view into their school rooms. So I want to provide some guidance. Especially as I know the feeling of not knowing where to start.
When I began my journey as a teacher and then as a home educator I realized that it was fairly easy to find some kind of material on required subjects such as art, history, science, poetry, language art. However it was very hard to find those subjects covered by a passionate and diverse crowd of scholars and artists who could give my students the depth and richness and diverse role models that I aimed for. And I didn't want to wait till my kids are in high school or college to see them introduced to beautifully diverse concepts and themes in literature. So I began digging. And was amazed at the treasure.
As I began researching books that brought my students a deep joy and appreciation for the different flavors of the world I was blown away by the richness of what I myself learnt in each children's book. With each new book our minds' were enlarged. We fell in love with the picture books as we marveled at the wisdom of ancient queens, the valor of foreign princes, the street smart of urban teenagers and the bravery of desert princesses. Such beauty and wisdom lay hidden in the folk stories of African, Asian, Hispanic and Native American cultures and such.
The stories we read allowed helped my students to form relationship with the characters and therefore helped even my preschoolers to retain important historical or artistic facts easily.
Moreover, these stories created a beautiful bond in our student-teacher relationship. Together we were in awe, together we jumped out of our seats in surprise, together we were saddened at the losses of our heroes and heroines, and together we historically laughed out loud at the unforeseen ending of a story and comic reliefs. Together we traveled the world. From our very desks and chairs and couches we traveled through Ancient Greek potteries, entered Viking fishing villages and searched the pyramids for hidden treasure of King Tut. And we came back better for it.
More than anything I believe my students and I have been and are enriched by the life lessons, the morals of the story if you so will, that undergirded so many of the diverse life's we studied. They surpassed our cultural norms and tradition, yet they held the same core values I aimed to teach my students in common books. These values and virtues were neatly and sometimes humorously packaged in fresh and different colors and fabrics and styles of the particular culture which made them appealing to the students. And we had so much fun unpacking them even when at times they were hard pills to swallow and taught lessons about real life and real history.
Friend, the moment you meet me and we have a conversation you will find I'm a passionate believer in living and learning diverse things. Finding out something new about a culture makes me happy, gives me goose bumps, let's me exclaim a heartfelt "woooow.." to my students. (: I'm genuinely excited to learn new cultures. Maybe because that's my very DNA and heart beat. I've been unintentionally living two cultures since the moment I first opened my eyes in the small German hospital many years ago and looked into the tear filled faces of my German mother and Ghanaian dad. "A Girl!" It's really a girl! Finally someone who broke the string of boys in their families (: So this girl began to wrestle from day one with the reality of growing up in a multi cultural household and with the reality of being a girl in this world. And over the years I realized that this wrestling with your own identity, calling and cultural heritage is of utmost importance for people to become mature, passionate and compassionate human beings.
Lastly, I see this blog as something emerging that will not only exploring diverse children's literature and cultures. I think I'll also throw in there some diverse approaches to topics such as nature, education, parenting, faith, community, maybe love or marriage (my grandfather had 3 wives, ya'll! Talking about different cultural approaches:). But friend that's a different topic for a different day.
Well, welcome to my first blog and may you encounter many treasure ancient and new that will enrich your life, cheer up and refresh your soul with each new encounter!
Ps: bellow is the cup of tea I drank the evening after getting off that paddle boat (;
California based Ghanaian-German educator, writer, bookworm and mama of three. A lover of all things nature, diversity & healthy.
"Education is nothing else than discovery.
And discovery full of diversity is beautiful."
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About the author
My name is Nancy. I'm a teacher, home educator, wife, mother, writer and accidental German-Ghanaian transplant to the U.S., in love with California and all things diversity.