Saturday, October 22, 2011

We Speak Amharic Here

A current pic of E!

On a typical day in our house you'll hear words like "ebakesh" and "eshi" thrown in at random by both boys as well as Chris and I.  We speak some Amharic in our home.  That is one of the main languages spoken in Ethiopia and what was spoken to E before he came to us.

At the orphanage with our drivers/guides/interpreters

Why do we do this?  Why have we chosen to pass this language on to our children and to incorporate into our family's daily life?

Well, E was born in Ethiopia.  He is full-blooded Ethiopian.  His birth family was/is Ethiopian.  We celebrate that.  When he's older, we want him to celebrate it, to be proud of it, to know it.  It's also a connection to his past, to where he came from, to his birth family.  I think it will be an important part of his self identity as he gets older.  How much of my identity and self image is made up of my past, where I came from, my family and where they came from?  A lot.  It will be the same for E.  And as I've said before, we can't pretend our children's lives began when they joined our family.  That leaves out a large part of E's life and identity.  So Ethiopia is a part of our family.

E in his traditional Ethiopian outfit

There are a few other ways we try to incorporate Ethiopian culture into our family.  Most are small things.  We have some decorative items around our home that we bought in Ethiopia.  E has a doll that is dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb.  I still want to try my hand at some Ethiopian cooking, but haven't made the time yet.  Perhaps the simplest but most profound way we preserve his Ethiopian heritage involves his "life book" that I made for him.  It's a scrapbook of his story.  We sit and look at it together sometimes.  When we get to pictures taken while we were in Ethiopia, he says, "That's Yopiyopi."

This artwork was in our hotel room in Ethiopia.  We liked it.

And that makes my heart smile.

If your children are from different cultures or from mixed cultures, how do you preserve that in your home?  I'd love to hear!

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