How do you teach a child to be a world citizen? There is no simple answer, but for me a fundamental element has to be love. Instilling a deep love for others in your child will give context and meaning to the facts and traditions you teach and will become a prime motivator for doing good in the world.
With this in mind, this year I helped a group of mothers coordinated a card exchange on a global scale. I was inspired by a Valentine’s Day card exchange organized by Glittering Muffins. Monkey had so much fun with it, I decided we should do something similar for Bahá’í new year (Naw Rúz). I was hoping that it would be a way to make geography come to life, as we exchanged cards with children from other parts of the world. But on a deeper level it was about helping create bonds with other children. A friend put it best: It was about “knitting the hearts together.”
Organizing the card exchange was a real reminder of how much social media has made it so easy for people to connect worldwide. I put out a call on Facebook for those that wanted to participate, and within days I had a list of 63 children!
I tried to match each child with another of roughly the same age, preferably living in another country. Each child created a card plus a flower of some type. (For example, we made California poppies out of cardstock). The flowers symbolized the coming of spring that Naw Rúz celebrates, plus they illustrated the Bahá’í belief that we are all “flowers of one garden.” In addition, the child could include other items, such as a photo.
I was blown away by the geographic spread of the participants. Here are the countries represented:
USA, Canada, Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Iceland, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, China, Malaysia, Tonga, Australia
The ages of the children ranged from two months (Baby Monkey and a little girl in Delaware) to 14 years.
I really admire the enthusiasm and creativity of the families involved. The Monkeys received lovely cards, one from North Carolina and the one from Ireland. Both included beautiful family photos and notes from the children.
Here are some photos generously shared by other participating families:
From Katherin in Maryland (girls ages 3 and 5): “Here they are with their finished cards. We also added a family picture, some butterfly stickers and for the older girl, Nura added a star bookmark. They were the creators and I just helped along the way. Also, I showed them on google maps where the cards were going–one across the US and the other will go across the Atlantic Ocean to England. They were excited.”
From Erin in Iceland (boys ages 1.5 and 6): “We received our cards and our boys were very happy :)”
From Jenny in California (girls ages 4 and 7):
How do you help your child create bonds with other children around the world?