A Personal Note from Lyssa

After seven years of marriage and a pair of kids, I often reflect on the values I would like to pass on to my children.  Although the world has changed a great deal since I was a kid, the one thing my parents did back then that has much relevance today was to expose me to different cultures and experiences.  

It may sound simple to some, yes, the child of immigrant parents growing up in Brooklyn will most certainly be exposed to a lot more cultures, food, language, etc.  But it went beyond that, I was traveling outside of the country before I could properly talk and had a stamped passport at a time when many of my peers did not leave the state.  My mom also loves to cook, and we weren’t limited to just Haitian dishes….she enjoyed trying dishes from different cultures (I will admit I was not a happy 6 yr old when she decided to try octopus).  But they tried, and managed to do all of this on a working class income because, quite frankly, that is what was important to them.  

When you grow up in such a household, you embrace, not fear the unknown.  You are more empathetic to cultural differences because you know what it’s like to be in school and have your peers stare at  your “exotic” lunch.  Yet, you also appreciate the little things that binds your histories and cultures (hello, Asians aren’t’ the only one to eat tons of rice).  I appreciate all of this, now more than ever, and I hope I can give my children just a piece of that experience.    

And for those who have had limited exposure to different cultures, our professors in higher education realize the importance and have been developing more and more interdisciplinary studies focusing on  international relations and public diplomacy.  The other day, I received an email from Syracuse University introducing their new  dual-degree program.  Offered jointly by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, students in the Public Diplomacy Program receive two master’s degrees – one in International Relations from the Maxwell School and one in Public Relations from the Newhouse School. 

I am glad to see that our educators are addressing the growing importance of building positive relationships and mutual understanding across the world, and it is our job as parents to begin this education at home.


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