Extended Family and Cultural Stretching

Generation Family

Go to a Rwandan restaurant, see a Sinhalese singer, befriend a Brazilian, visit Vanuatu – all these may expand your intercultural knowledge and skills; and be fun too.

An underestimated place to practice and improve intercultural skills – non-judgement, empathy, active listening, multiple perspectives, bridge building – are interactions with extended family.

Within my seemingly not-so-culturally-diverse extended family are people who vote Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic Party and Green. There are Christians, agnostics and atheists; Anglos and Francos; white Euro-Canadians and Metis; and multi-generations. Some are materially very well off, others live frugally. And I know my family is less culturally diverse than those of many fortunate friends.

Some of our most strained relationships seem to be within our families. What a great place to practice non-judgement, empathy, active listening, seeing multiple perspectives and bridge building. Over a coffee, a phone call or email, perhaps we can improve our cross-cultural skills this week. Like a muscle, stretch and grow stronger.