When I was working on my Master’s in Intercultural Relations, I encountered a challenge: I was interested in learning about how to design effective and meaningful programs and projects for kids, but I had a hard time finding research and best practices about how to do so. The “literature” (as academic research is called) was difficult to find, as it was spread across a variety of fields including child development, early and elementary education, multicultural education, and intercultural relations.
What I did find was both too much and too little: it seemed inconclusive, contradictory, and often colored by critical theory polemics or infused with a simplistic, feel-good ethos. I struggled to sort it into any kind of coherent framework, which was frustrating and perplexing. How, in the second decade of the 2000s, was it still this difficult to get answers? Moreover, if I was struggling – someone with the time, motivation, access, and capacity to sort through piles of research – I wondered how on earth busy parents, teachers, and other well-meaning adults could be expected to muddle through it.
Although I had tripped and fallen into this pothole, I did not necessarily make the connection that the problem was mine to sort out. I got my degree, published my book, and presented the challenges to the intercultural field – both in my research and in a conference session. I thought I was passing the baton, leaving this complicated business to someone else (someone who hopefully knew more than I did) so I could get back to my writing. And yet, two years after I finished my degree and one year after the SIETAR Conference, as far as I can tell, nothing has been done. The job is still waiting for me, and I’m feeling a bit guilty about it. After all, how can I continue serving as the town crier, announcing that work needs to be done in this crucial area, without undertaking it myself?
Well, I’m here to say that 2016 will hopefully bring a change. I have had a positive response to my posts on this topic on LinkedIn, and to keep that momentum going, I have created a group on that social media platform. I am also going to fold my Creative Interculturalist blog into this site so that it gets more regular attention. I hope to start 2016 by talking with educators, librarians, parents, and practitioners and posting their thoughts on this site. And I hope that with a fresh perspective, I will be able to start wrapping my head around the messy material.
I don’t know where this will lead, but I invite you to join me at Kids Crossing Cultures! If each of us knows a little bit, together we can know a little more – and then we will start to know a lot. It’s an intercultural adventure of a different kind – one that is not about seeing a new country, but that is focused on building compassionate communities for the future.
Let’s get started!