Your sponsored child has a lot of things in common with most kids. They love to play games. They love to hear stories, and just like you, they probably have a favorite holiday. But because your sponsored child lives far away, it can sometimes feel difficult to connect with them.
Thankfully, learning more about your sponsored child’s country and culture is an incredible way to feel closer to them. And you don’t need to travel to learn more about your child’s home, either. There are many ways to connect with your child’s culture right where you are!
Here are four things you can do to engage with the culture of your sponsored child:
1. Learn a few words in their language
Every time I travel, I try to learn a bit of the local language and common gestures. When I use those phrases or gestures, I see people’s eyes light up. The way we communicate — with strangers and with those close to us — can say a lot about our culture. Simply learning a few key greetings or phrases shows that you care, and that you wish to communicate in the language closest to their heart.
If your sponsored child is from a country like India or Uganda that has many different language groups, you may not be sure what specific language your child speaks. Try learning a little of one of the country’s official languages, such as Hindi or Swahili. Even if your sponsored child knows English, it can be fun learning the other dialects they may hear on a day-to-day basis.
Many websites like Duolingo offer a fun and free learning experience so you can begin to understand the basics of your sponsored child’s language.
2. Read books set in your sponsored child’s country
Another great way to learn about other cultures is by reading books set in the country or written by someone who is from there. When you read a book by an author from another nation, you get a fresh, first-person look into what the culture is actually like. You hear about the history, with all its triumphs and tragedies, from someone who has actually lived and learned from those events.
Search for blogs that list popular books set around the world or ask a local librarian.
You can also research popular myths or folk tales from the country. Cultures, particularly in places with lower literacy rates, place great value on stories that have been passed down orally through generations. The values portrayed in the country’s folk tales can give you a picture of the culture as a whole.
3. Try a local food your sponsored child might eat
Researching the foods your sponsored child likes to eat can be a great way to learn more about them. You probably have a favorite dish that your parents used to make … and your sponsored child probably does, too! Check their annual update — the sheet that lists things like their favorite color and sport — to see what meal they like the most. You can also check the Internet to find a few popular dishes from their country.
If you’re really adventurous, try finding a recipe and making the dish yourself. Not only will you connect with your child’s culture, but you might find something you like, as well!
4. Holidays and traditions
What we celebrate and how we celebrate says a lot about who we are. That’s why learning about popular holidays and traditions in your sponsored child’s country is important.
As you research the different holidays, write down the dates when they are celebrated. Then, when those days come around, you can write to your child and ask if they observed the holiday in a special way. You can use that day to pray extra hard for your child and their family. You can also learn about some of the holiday traditions that might be important to your child. Grab your family and celebrate with your sponsored child.
Learning more about the place your sponsored child is from can deepen your relationship and show how much you care. The more you know, the more specifically you will be able to pray for your child. They will become a true part of your family!
By sponsoring a child, you are making an incredible difference. Thank you investing yourself in the life of a boy or girl in need!