Five Cultures – Five Themes

April 17, 2013 | CELEBRATIONS | By Giselle Shardlow

All photos courtesy of Kids Yoga Stories

As part of Nomad Parents’ Adopt a Culture series, I’m excited to share some of my experiences and insights about five different cultures that I am connected to by either ancestry or residence. In each case, there has been one theme that I feel permeates the culture and has really resonated with me.
I strive to integrate these themes – History, Family, Nature, Passion and Community – into my life.

History – England

Though I haven’t lived in England, my family visited our extended family every year when I was growing up. My parents were both born and raised in England, and our upbringing was based on British customs, language, and traditions. Here’s what I love about the British culture:

  • Afternoon tea ritual. Any excuse to sit down in the afternoon with a cup of tea, a scone with jam, and chats with my mom is bliss. I still remember having tea with my British relatives. I felt so grown up.
  • Sarcasm and wit of the British language. My granddad was always kidding around and telling stories. He was light-hearted and fun. My British relatives all seemed to not take themselves too seriously and looked on the bright side of life.
  • History and traditions of England. I’ve enjoyed learning about our ancestry through my mom’s research. Learning about the travelers in our family has helped me to understand my passion for living in different countries. This makes me feel validated and understood, instead of unsettled and unaccepted.

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Family – Guatemala

I lived in Guatemala City for many years in my 20s and worked as a primary school teacher at two American international schools. Here’s what I love about the Guatemalan culture:

  • Spanish language and the friendly people. I felt embraced by the Guatemalan culture and at home with the locals.
  • Resourcefulness of the people and their connection to the land. I noticed that their simple life often brought happiness too. I was struck by the smiles of the villagers’ faces who were carrying water on their heads, twigs on their back, or baskets of vegetables in their arms.
  • Family gatherings, celebrations and social connections. I fondly remember my birthdays in our grade-three classroom with cake, piñatas, presents, and parties—all secretly organized by the students.

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Nature – Canada

They say that you can take a Canadian out of Canada, but you can’t take the Canada out of a Canadian. That’s me—a proud first-generation Canadian, even though I left my homeland over fifteen years ago. Here’s what I love about the Canadian culture:

  • Friendly, passionate, and proud people. After all, we have a reputation to hold up. I love the temperate weather and laid-back personalities on the West Coast.
  • Appreciation for multiculturalism. I’m proud that cultures are viewed as a mosaic. Canadians celebrate and respect each culture’s language, customs, traditions, and way of life.
  • Love of nature. In British Columbia, we depend on our trees and water for our economy. The ‘tree-hugger’ still lives inside me, and I still have a passion for making the world a better place. I write about environmental issues in my children’s books, which serve as a starting point for families and teachers to discuss these issues in a meaningful way.

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Passion – Australia

My husband is from Sydney, Australia, and I enjoyed living there for several years. Here’s what I love about the Australian culture:

  • Concept of “fair go.” I admire my husband for the way that he stands up for himself and others, to ensure that everyone is given a fair chance.
  • Straight up, honest communication. Australians say it how it is. You know where you stand. This is very refreshing, though confrontational, at times.
  • Their culture’s extreme changes in temperature. One minute, I’ll be talking to my very laid-back husband, and the next, he jumps passionately into action to deal with a stressful situation. His stamina and charisma are admirable.

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Community – United States of America

My family currently calls San Francisco home. Here’s what I love about the American culture:

  • “Can do” attitude of living the American Dream. I love the belief that anyone can be successful by working hard, working with his or her passion, and having a positive outlook.
  • Support of new businesses. It’s culturally acceptable to reinvent yourself and go out on your own. I’ve found that people here are excited about my new business venture and will do anything to help the idea succeed.
  • Sense of community. People help each other and act as a community. It’s totally acceptable to spark a conversation with a stranger in a line at the coffee shop. You gotta love special holidays like Thanksgiving, where huge families all get together for a day of food and merriment.

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I certainly hope that immersing myself in different cultures around the world will make me a better person with a globally-responsible outlook. I also hope to raise our child with the same appreciation for different cultures.
I believe this is one way to cultivate tolerance, acceptance, and, ultimately, happiness.
These experiences have also been the inspiration for writing my children’s books. Later this year, I will be publishing a book that features six characters from around the world, including two girls and two boys from the countries above.
If you are interested, join the weekly Kids Yoga Newsletter at for the release date.
Please note that these are simply my observations, and I have made some generalizations. I intended for the comments to be positive and to encourage readers to find out more about these countries on their own.

Check out Giselle’s yoga-inspired children’s books on her Kids Yoga Stories website or on Amazon worldwide. Get more free kids yoga resources in your inbox by signing up for her weekly newsletter, or check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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