“S” is for Sports – The A to Z of Raising Global Citizens

I am very excited to be taking part in the A to Z  of Raising Global Citizens – a series that began on June 1st and will run through June 26th on a multicultural blog called: Creative World of Varya’s. 

My topic is Sports. There are many sports children can try out for fun or watch while learning about the world.  I have found that sitting down to watch the World Cup, The Olympics, Rugby, Golf and Tennis have always led to stimulating conversations with our sons about geography, flags, languages, government, even world economy. There are also sports you can seek out in your town, state or country that can be watched or played first-hand and can broaden your children’s horizons and help them become world citizens.

Polo

One of my family’s favorite summer spectator sports is Polo.  Don’t get me wrong, although Polo may sound intimidating and more like a sport for the jet-setting type, I am happy to report that  there are plenty of public polo grounds and State Parks which welcome the general public and go as far as educating and encouraging hands-on fun for children.  There are many aspects about Polo that captivate children’s attention. Let’s start with the most obvious: it involves horses (Polo Ponies) a ball and mallet, and it is played outdoors. How can you go wrong? Polo is also fun, fast and exciting. In the U.S.A., in my experience, most Polo teams typically include at least one international member. This fact usually sparks conversation about other countries and languages. A great historical tidbit you could include when introducing Polo to your children is the fact that Polo is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in known history, with the first matches being played in Persia over 2500 years ago. Polo is a fantastic way to expand your child’s knowledge of the world and discover yet another fun and exciting sport.

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End of the Match High Fives at “Polo in the Park”, Bethpage State Park

If you like to expose your children to unconventional sights and experiences while on holiday, I recommend attending a Polo match during your travels. Polo is an international sport played in at least 80 countries around the world. A list of playing countries can be viewed on the Federation of International Polo website.

My husband and I took our boys to see a polo match in Argentina. Everybody knows that Argentina is famous for soccer (fútbol), but Polo is another very popular sport in Argentina. It has a long history there. The game arrived in the 1800s with British settlers in the Argentine pampas. Argentina has since become internationally renowned in the sport, making it the perfect place to take in a match. It is a family-friendly event and attracts locals as well as European royalty. We purchased tickets at the gate for about $25.00 per person and saw an amazing match with some of the best players in the world. Campo Argentino de Polo in downtown Buenos Aires is the most important Polo Stadium in the world.  Their high Polo season is mid October to mid December.

Croquet

Croquet is believed to have been first played by thirteenth century French peasants who used crudely fashioned mallets to whack wooden balls through hoops made of willow branches.The hoops are often called “wickets” in the U.S.A. It is a much more accessible sport for children to try at home or in their  home town at a picnic or while on holiday. Our family enjoys croquet when we are on summer holidays as it does not involve running, getting winded or perspiring  (in other words, it is a “parent-friendly” sport to play with your children). One of the fun things about croquet is that it pops up throughout the year when we read new books or watch certain movies. Croquet always seems to be in the background of a museum painting, or an illustration in a book or a movie. My boys tend to catch these “croquet cameos” regularly. It is a wonderful way for them to feel like members of the global world we live in. If they play croquet at home and later observe others in different parts of the world playing croquet – albeit in books, art or movies, then, unconsciously they begin to  feel like global citizens who share interests with the rest of the world!

Croquet sets can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and on Amazon for a variety of prices.

Bocce

Bocce is also a ball sport played at many American backyard picnics. This sport shares a common ancestry with the ancient games played in the Roman Empire. Bocce was developed into its present form in Italy and it is played around Europe and also overseas – including Australia, North America, and South America and other places that received Italian migration.

The sport is also very popular on the eastern side of the Adriatic, especially in Croatia, Montenegro and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Southern France where the sport has taken on different names.

Bocce is still played regularly in many New York City neighborhood parks by the descendants of the original Italian immigrants. My sons used to stop and watch the senior Bocce players for a good 20 minutes at our local park before making their way to the playground. It was always a treat for them to watch the Italian members of the community play Bocce.

CampItalia, a summer camp in Long Island, NY, conducts an Italian language and culture program that includes Bocce as one of their many outdoor activities. The kids always enjoy this part of their day.  They have tons of fun and learn a little more about the world they live in as they become world citizens.

A fun-filled game of Bocce at CampItalia, Long Island, NY

A fun-filled game of Bocce at CampItalia, Long Island, NY

Remember to seek out sports such as these in your communities or while on holiday. It will most likely enrich your day and overall travel experience.

Which sports do your global children enjoy?

Buon divertimento!!

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In these Series 24 bloggers of Multicultural Kid Blogs Community got together to share ideas and tips on Raising Global Citizens. Follow us from June 1st to June 26th as we share a letter of the alphabet and an idea associated with it over at Raising Global Citizen Series page!
Creative World of Varya = Bilingual Avenue = The European Mama = Melibelle in = Smart Tinker = Good To Be Mom = Marie’s Pastiche = Third Culture Mama = Tiny Tapping Toes = All Done Monkey = Russian Step By Step = Multilingual Parenting = In The Playroom = Rue Du Belvedere = Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes = La Cité des Vents = Faith Seeker Kids = World Languages = The Piri-Piri Lexicon = Healthy Child, Global Mind = Mama Smiles = The Art Curator for Kids = Words n Needles = Multicultural Kitchen
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Italian Culture for Global Children – Carnevale, Easter and other Holidays and Events

You may have noticed from reading my posts, that although I have spent time researching and procuring books and innovative materials to help support my children’s interest in languages, I am also a firm believer in regularly immersing them in cultural activities. I strongly believe that language learning should be relevant for children. You can make their language acquisition relevant by engaging them in fun, interactive activities and giving them the opportunity to practice their “new” words and expressions during different times of the year and in varied environments. You should also provide them with historical background and a framework to help them remember their “new” words more easily.

Columbus Day

Columbus Day Parade

One way to go about this undertaking is to keep your finger on the pulse of annual cultural events that take place around certain holidays or during certain seasons. Although my children do not speak Italian, continuous exposure to one of their heritage countries’ customs is high on our list of priorities. Accordingly, whenever we have an opportunity to attend an Italian cultural event, we do. We have marched in the NYC Columbus Day Parade on 5th Avenue, attended  language lessons at our public library co-hosted by CampItlalia and New York Italians (See Fun Events that Complement Language Learning) and participated in UNICO’s Italian Heritage Summer Picnic. These types of events are great venues for children to learn about history and geography; language and customs; and foods and desserts.

Fun and friendly children's competitions at UNICO picnic

Fun and friendly children’s competitions at UNICO picnic

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Kids learning Italian in a fun CampItalia lesson at the public library! Photo courtesy of CampItalia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carnevale in Italy

This year, I also attended a “Carnevale” event hosted by Long Island Italians, a chapter of New York Italians. This non-profit organization kicked off the Easter season with a social and informative event. Although the event was too late in the evening for my children to attend, I shared with them what I observed and learned that night and spoke to them about the history of Carnevale.  They were intrigued, more so, because of the timeliness of the “lesson”. Some of the tidbits they enjoyed hearing about:

Carnavale Masks

Carnevale Masks. Photo courtesy of Long Island Italians

  • Origin of the Word – Carnevale comes from the Italian “carne’ (meat) + ‘levare’ (to remove or take away).
  • Carnevale was first celebrated in the 12th century in the northern city of Italy called Venezia.
  • The entire city becomes a stage and residents, visitors, actors, acrobats, and musicians wear elaborate masks and elegant costumes.
  • Carnevale was especially fun because the masks allowed all people to be equal: a poor peasant could be mistaken for royalty when faces are covered by masks.

Easter in Italy

In Italy, on Palm Sunday, one week before Easter Sunday, many children create gifts for family and friends made from the palms brought home from Palm Sunday services. Italian children, like children in America, also dye Easter eggs. They make their own natural dye from red onion skins. Rather than placing the eggs in baskets, they are placed in or on bread braids to add color to the Easter desserts. Some of the dyed eggs come out after the Easter meal for children to play games with.

Children in Italy are not familiar with the Easter bunny, as the concept of the Easter Bunny that American children know was actually brought to the United States by the Germans in the 1700’s. Italian children, like their American counterparts, also receive elaborate chocolate Easter eggs with treats inside as gifts from their parents and family members.

If your children are studying Italian, are of Italian heritage, or just want to learn more about Italy and its culture, seek out these types of free and fun events in or near your community.  Below are some places you could begin:

  • CampItlalia continues to host additional free library events in neighboring communities in Long Island, NY  and is partnering with other Italian organizations in the Northeast Region to promote the Italian language and culture. CampItalia also offers an enriching, lively, well-rounded Italian summer camp program. Children practice speaking Italian and learn about aspects of Italian life, traditions, music, and history. This program is structured according to age groups and is ideal for children between the ages of 4 and 12. Click here for program details.
  • UNICO has 20 active chapters across the United States, and
  • New York Italians is branching out and developing chapters across the United States, too!

Buona Pasqua a tutti!!