Today was Cultural Day at my daughter’s primary school. 10 months into our tenure here in Australia, and I am still learning…
The kids were to dress in an orange shirt to appreciate cultural diversity, or they could wear something from their culture. They could also bring in a cultural plate of food to share with their classmates.
What was I to do? My daughter doesn’t have any orange shirts, except as it dawned on us as we walked to school, she does! Halloween is next week and didn’t she just wear an orange shirt a few weeks ago with a pumpkin on it? Now THAT would be both orange and American, but no, mommy wasn’t that smart to think of that prior to the day. Ugh. She also doesn’t have an American flag t-shirts, well that fit her any more at least. Most of her cultural shirts are from England, Spain, Scotland, and yep, Australia. She is half English thanks to her daddy, but again, that light bulb never switched on. She went to school in her uniform and made the most of it by saying, “At least I’m wearing blue!”
As I stood at the school, it felt like we were at the United Nations with delegates parading in their country’s regalia. Little girls from China in full silk dresses, a girl in an I ❤ Malta t-shirt, teen boys in football (soccer) jerseys from Macedonia and Barcelona, Indian girls in saris, and kids draped in Italian and Aussie flags. And the food? Trays of Somalian and SriLankan casseroles, exotic desserts, and ham and cheese croissants wafted by me; even our neighbors carried Lamingtons with Aussie flags on each one. I just said 2 words to myself: Parenting Fail.
What could I drum up that would be considered culturally American? Baking an apple pie was out of the question on a weeknight (and hubby out of the country), plus we needed to give thought to potential allergies in the class. It couldn’t be anything that needed to be served warm. I can’t seem to find many American items here, except on my visits to Costco. And that’s just what my daughter brought in today (and sure to be a crowd pleaser), Ruffles potato chips.
Aside from the obvious takeaways here and knowing better for next year’s event, it really has occurred to me as the token American immigrant, I’ve never lived in a more culturally diverse place, than here in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Not a day goes by that I don’t overhear different languages being spoken around me or meet someone who is only first generation Australian. Our nearest neighbors are Armenian, Filipino, Maltese, Asian, and… the token Aussie.