Cross-cultural voting behaviour

Ivote really like voting. I don’t know why, but this formal act as a citizen makes me feel proud of being part of the community and that “I have something to say”.
As a French citizen living in Germany during my childhood, I remember very well taking the car to the consulate in Düsseldorf (a thirty minute drive) and then queueing for ages before seeing my parents vote. We weren’t much in contact with other French families at that time, so seeing other French people like me living in Germany was quite exciting.
This morning I went to vote; here in Britain for the local elections, it was just around the corner. I was so excited to vote that I went yesterday, and my husband had to rain on my political parade by telling me that the elections were the next day.
This morning I went to vote and it was different than usual. Continue Reading

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Meeting Leone

It was one of these days, when the World Wide Net trapped me. Swinging from one lane to another, exploring, discovering new webpages, mainly blogs full of amusingdessin rencontre F&L or sad stories. Time was passing, but (as usual for a French who loves “vivre l’instant present”) I didn’t notice it. And then, all of a sudden, I saw some great illustrations. Well designed, clear lines with awesome humor. I loved it from the first page. And the title: Cornichons et Compagnie – Pickles and other stories. How lovely! I don’t have to mention that I have a voracious appetite and I read almost the entire blog.
A few months later, I was lucky enough to meet the person behind these great illustrations: Léone! A mid-twenty something creative girl living in Switzerland, teaching art in French and loving Britain where she lived and worked a few years ago. In the heat of Lyon, in front of us two huge salads, that was it: we talked about “God and the world” (“Über Gott und die Welt sprechen,” like the Germans say), we “put the world to rights” (“refaire le monde,” like the French say)… And two hours later a creative and exciting collaboration was born: Leone will draw the illustrations for the book “Bringing Up Children between Cultures”.
It’s amazing that sometimes it’s more than useful to get lost in the World Wide Web. I am so glad that I discovered Leone and glad that we can work together between England, France and Switzerland.

The book project is on its way. It’s getting serious – how exciting!
Don’t forget to follow the adventure on @oxfrognews and especially with #FamBtwCultures.

 

First Birthday candle for my book

candle-birthdaySometimes it’s worth just briefly pausing to think about what we have done with all our time. The book project about bicultural families started at the end of April 2014. More than 200 miles, a huge amount of anecdotes, loads of laughter, one puncture and a long walk home, several nuts, home-made bread slices and other nibbles later, I am amazed about where this book brought me to. With the parents I traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, China, (…), Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, Chile and of course France, Germany, Spain and finally Britain, Wales and Ireland!
Thanks to all the Mums and Dads for their time and kindness of sharing their experience with me, giving me a glance of their adventures between their cultures with their kids. I feel honoured to write about them – and with them – these pages full of life, ideas and perspectives on a challenging topic: the transmission of our home-culture to bring up children as citizens of the world.
My fingers aren’t tired of typing about such amazing stories and experiences and I do my best to write quickly. There are still some subjects I want to explore more in depth, so if you want to take part in this project, drop me an email and hope to meet you soon.

Florentine

Nick Copes latest trick! The Pirate’s Breakfast

Gregre pirate2It was one of those uncreative moments in the middle of the afternoon when you just feel you need a break. Luckily, I found Nick Copes last CD in my bag , hidden from my daughters eyes. She grabs everything which is pink, her favourite color.

His voice sort of like a big brother, if you don’t have you would love to have: Clear, hilarious yet sincere.

His guitar is dynamic, engaging, it really gets off your feet and dancing!

His music is a fantastic mood booster!

Whilst discovering his new songs, I remember my first session with Nick Cope as a young mother with an eight month old active little girl. A friend tempted me with the comment, “you will love it”. And indeed, he is the first musician I have ever encountered who makes fab music not only for kids but for parents as well. Continue Reading

What’s your name?

Gregre crayon BLOGThe bilingual (or multilingual) story starts with this question, in a certain way. For parents the choice of their child’s name is full of meaning and often related to a story, a shared moment. It’s extremely carefully decided. As this name lasts for your whole life, it’s the first identification someone is granted with. And it’s probably one of the words you write and speak most in your life. Especially for multicultural families, who have relatives abroad, it’s an important space where they can pass on cultural values.
Whilst preparing my questionnaire for the book Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures I didn’t think of this question, it was one of my first interviewees-couples who gave me the idea to mention this point with the parents. And they were right, I had lots of colourful stories which underline how important this topic is for the parents.

Let’s have a close look at some of them and don’t hesitate to tell us your story in a comment below.

Hannah is Israeli and married to Dirk who is Dutch. They have one child and a second on it’s way.

Hannah
The choice of our child’s name was a very cultural negotiation between us. As it was really important for my husband that the child carries his surname.

Dirk:  The reason why is simple. Continue Reading

Oxford’s Playgroups in every language – PART 1

sun-451441_640At the start of the bilingual (or even trilingual) trip of life with kids you often are looking for places where they can meet and play with other children. It’s also (which is not less important) a moment when you can reconnect with your home country, take time to chat in your mother-tongue around a cup of coffee!
Oxford is packed with lots of different playgroups and little language schools! All these places give you the opportunity to connect with other multilingual families and to share cultural events and customs. It’s a new way for your children to explore your and their home-culture in another environment than at home. We do certainly all agree that this is extremely useful. It is during these meetings that they realise that they are part of a cultural and linguistic community.
I discovered the importance of such places since we are expatriates and as part of my work on Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures. That’s why I was thrilled to discover all the different playgroups and schools for children with an international background. Continue Reading

Somewhere to feel at home : Donnington Doorstep

Donnington Doorstep 1  Donnington Doorstep 4The Family Centre is slightly hidden behind some trees and bushes. These also give the place a cosy garden-atmosphere when you are outside the centre. And in fact, it’s a special spot, once the gate and two doors passed, you discover a rather unexpected venue. A giant place, like an enormous tent decorated with windows to see the sky… I can barely describe this incredible construction.
Entering Donnington Doorstep Family Centre feels like a harbour where you simply want to sit down to a cup of coffee and let your children play. A baby-corner, messy-play area, some tables with toys or craft activities, a place with books and some role-play equipment… your kids will be spoiled for choice!

For whom? Mums, dads, grandparents and carers with kids! There is also a Youth Group (read more: Good to know!).

Where? Townsend Square, OX4 4BB, Oxford. Contact: 72 77 21

Opening times? The family drop-in sessions are every day except for Sunday. Mon-Tue-Thu-Fri 10am-3pm, Wed 10am-1pm, Sat 10.30am-3pm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat for? Lots of fun plays for Toddlers. The volunteers prepare every day tables with new activities. But the kids can also play outside, in a sandpit, cruise around with little cars or do some painting. Some days, the Centre offers special activities: Mondays Cooking in the afternoon, Tuesdays Singing with Lizzie (1.30pm-2pm), Wednesdays Bonfire in the garden, Saturdays Cooking session (11am). One of Donnington Doorsteps favourite activities is the messy-play (inside or outside). Be prepared and do not dress up your children in their best Sunday-clothes, in spite of some aprons to protect and some wellies to go out in the sand or if it’s raining in the mud 🙂 Continue Reading

Open doors in Oxford: SPECIAL FAMILIES

Dear OGregre St Marysxfrognews-followers !
Six months ago I launched this blog with my dear chap Gregre. Together we went to different events, playgrounds as far as Russia! We met as well Oxfordian stars like Nick Cope and Mini Grey! Thank you so much for sharing these explorations with us.
For this week, a very quick reminder about the Oxford Preservation Trust and the Open Doors which is a unique opportunity to explore Oxford’s heritage and sneak into some Colleges. It takes place this weekend 13-14.09.2014.
Don’t be misled and think this event revolving around old stones and famous architecture is only for grown ups. A lot of venues offer activities for kids and the whole family! Have a lovely weekend (all the activities can be found here)!

Here is my personal selection of the top 5

Fire Station
Bring the children to see fire engines and find out what happens at the station and appliance bay, demos & displays of equipment and fire safety and wider work.
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 9am-5pm

Oxford Bus Museum
Take a trip back in time celebrating 100 years of motor buses in the city, free vintage bus rides. For timetable and bus stops see website.
Saturday 10-4pm.

Story Museum
Free child-friendly activities. Drop in handprinting demonstrations…
Saturday 11am-1pm, 2-4pm.

St Micheal at the North Gate Church
Visit Oxford’s ancient City Church and climb its Saxon tower for wonderful views on the ‘dreaming spire’. See inside the working clockmechanism and the cell door of Cranmer.
Saturday: 10.30-5.30pm
Sunday: 2-5.30pm

Magdalen College School
Stroll through the beautiful school gardens crossing over the white Chinese bridges.
Sunday : 12-4pm

 

 

From Russia with love

After some days with a “cultural jet-lag”, I’m still feeling as if I’m lying in a hammock between two worlds! Saint Petersburg was simply an amazing experience and an adventurous holiday time. It changed my view on Russia and the Russian themselves.
Being there with my other half, a frog and two small children was incredible exciting: infinite escalators, plenty of coloured playgrounds, lovely salads, magnificent palaces nearby run-down houses, smiling babuschki (only thanks to the kids!), fantastic ballet-evening, peaceful churches with lots of candles, tasty pelmeny (russian tortellini), matrioschka-dolls not only made in China (sic!), refreshing swims in the Neva, train trips around Saint Petersburg…

I’m happy to share some of our pics! Clic on one of them to have a little slide-show with the name of the different places. Some more impressions wait for you on #GregreTravels (more than 30 Tweets with pics and comments about our trip to Saint Petersburg).

Summer for Bilingual Families: Holiday or Family Visit?

(Version française ici , merci)

Gregre vacances 1bisAfter a busy time at school for the children and at work for the parents, everyone needs a little rest and relaxation. The “Tapetenwechsel” (literally, ‘Changing the wallpaper’), as the Germans say, is very important to recharge the batteries. In these summer months, let’s have a look at some interview extracts about the holidays of bilingual families. How do they manage being torn between holidays as a family unit and the expectations of their extended families?

These are some extracts from my book project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (read more here)

Melanie (36) and Nathan (37) have two children under the age of 6 who speak both parents’ languages (German and Hebrew):

Melanie We had started the rule that each country would get at least one trip a year…but to be more realistic it was more two… (Nathan agrees) And now we insist more on family holidays which don’t involve other family members, because visiting family isn’t vacation-time.

Nathan This year we’re going to Israel, but we’re renting a place in another town than where my family lives. It’s next to the beach, in an area you would go for holidays. From here we can meet my family, but it’s different; we’re independent and the children will still be in a Hebrew environment. Continue Reading