May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month — how are you celebrating?
Cultural influences are all around us. Maybe you experience them and don’t even realize it. Here are some simple things you can do in your hometown to expand your understanding:
1. Try a new ethnic cuisine – either at a restaurant or by cooking a new recipe. Most of us are familiar with Italian pizza, Chinese sweet and sour pork, and Mexican carne asada… how about trying an Ethiopian stew (wot) or Indian tandoori chicken? Note the different tastes. How does it compare with the way you prepare stews and chicken?
2. Listen to music from another culture. You can spend time exploring your radio dial. Here in Los Angeles we have Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese stations. See if you can make out what they’re saying. Another way is to go online and tune in.
3. Watch a movie with a different point of view. Some suggestions to get you started include: The Help, Letters From Iwo Jima, Hotel Rwanda, The Color Purple. You can also check out films made by another country—Hong Kong, France, and Australia to name a few.
4. Of course as writers, reading a book will enhance both our writing and awareness skills. books in this area include: The Color of Water (autobiography) by James McBride, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, Rules for Virgins by Amy Tan, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, , and many others.
5. Visit a different neighborhood. If you live near an area ethnically different from you own, go into a grocery store in the area. See what’s similar and different from the items stocked in the store you usually shop in. What kinds of different vegetables, fruits and meats do they carry?
Becoming aware of different cultures opens your eyes to the differences, similarities and influences within our own lives.
Until next time,