Monday, January 31st, 2011
Real Intercultural Families: Ingrid and Leo
Where are you from?
Where do you currently live?
How did you meet?
Ingrid: Itâ€™s a much longer story than that. He was visiting from Brazil.
Leo: I was escaping carnival. I was visiting some friends and went to this birthday party.
Ingrid: I got lost going to the party. I wasnâ€™t going to go but a friend came to get me. So we met at the party. Then the next weekend we met again at another party. At the second party we talked and connected more. But the day after, he had to go back to Brazil.
Leo: We played â€œpenteâ€ (an online board game) with chat next to it. We played one game in Romanian and the next in Portuguese.
Ingrid: Then I invited him to my sisterâ€™s wedding in Romania.
Leo: No, you came to Brazil first.
Ingrid: Thatâ€™s right. I had a trip planned to go to Miami with a girlfriend.
Leo: And I convinced her to come to Brazil instead. So she came and stayed a week.
Ingrid: Thatâ€™s when I invited him to go to Romania since I know he likes to travel. I expected him to say no but he didnâ€™t.
How old are your children and where were they born?
What passports do you hold?
And the kids?
What language do you speak together?
In what languages do you speak to the kids?
Ingrid: I speak to the kids in Romanian with a little bit of English, mostly when I forget or when Iâ€™m upset.
What languages do the kids speak?
What religion are you?
Leo: Iâ€™m Jewish. Part of what I want to pass on to the kids is the humanist values Judaism has. One of the things I like is the idea that you donâ€™t attach yourself to symbols because the symbols donâ€™t matter. Many pieces of the religion deal with respecting people above material things. I really donâ€™t want to pass on some of the crazy, esoteric things Judaism has like on the holidays you suffer like your ancestors suffered.
Leo: Some of the older traditions in Judaism are interesting but they donâ€™t make sense anymoreâ€“like the whole idea of not eating pork was because you could get sick from it so they made up some crazy myth around it. Nowadays, that stuff doesnâ€™t make sense because if you cook the pork, itâ€™s fine. Thereâ€™s things like thatâ€“youâ€™re not supposed to eat the chicken and egg at the same time because of some religious craziness but itâ€™s really that you canâ€™t eat both at the same time because youâ€™re going to end up with no more eggs cause you killed all the future chickens. The other one is meat and milk derivates are not supposed to be mixed. And itâ€™s all because of health issues originally that they couldnâ€™t really explain, so they came up with some crazy story and everybody believed it and followed it but nowadays that stuff doesnâ€™t make sense anymore. So that kind of stuff I think is silly to pass along. Itâ€™s kind of hard when you have a background in science to accept a lot of this stuff.
Do you have any concerns with your kidsâ€™ language acquisition?
And because itâ€™s a mix of three languages, and at one point four as she was in a Spanish-speaking daycare, my sense is sheâ€™s not picking up English as fast as folks who only have one language at home. Iâ€™m fine with that as she gets the benefit of multi-languages but at some point you do kind of wonder.
Ingrid: Her English is not as developed as other kids her age. Iâ€™m worried about it when she goes to school. Sometimes I want to speak to her in English so she learns to say things properly.
What have been your greatest joys as an intercultural family?
Ingrid: Going around in the world I feel comfortable in different places that I wouldnâ€™t have felt as comfortable because of our mixed family.
What have been your greatest challenges as an intercultural family?
Leo: That couldnâ€™t be further from the reality in Brazil. The way it materializes in everyday life is in particular with time. 2:00 for Brazilians means 2:15 or 2:30.
Ingrid: So we came up with a solution. I will award him the academic 15 minutes then I get upset if he hasnâ€™t announced being late.
Leo: Time is one example of a broader issue which is the strictness of things. Brazilians are more relaxed about everything and nothing is a big deal and sheâ€™s more strict about things happening. Unless there is a risk to your life, death, nothing is a big deal in Brazil. Itâ€™s a function of where you live. If you live in a chaotic place, you learn to become more relaxed. Itâ€™s a matter of attitude.
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