CASTING A WIDER NET: Parenting in a Time of War

CASTING A WIDER NET: Parenting in a Time of War


Our “Casting a Wider Net” series features mothers around the world whose voices have typically been excluded from the blogosphere, due to lack of access to the internet, low literacy or poverty. This feature aims to include their important and distinct perspectives with interviews and occasional video clips.

My grandmother, even at 91, never ceases to amaze me.  She has fought back from accidents and illness, car wrecks and strokes, with unexpected strength and optimism, probably from a deep drive to feel fully engaged in the world.  When my grandfather, the love of her life, widowed her over 30 years ago, she saw past her grief to discover new joys, taking up folk dancing and beginning a new career as a pre-school teacher.  Today, her hands shake, the result of essential tremors, but that was beside the point when she decided to take up pottery – a unquestionably physical art form  – in her 8th decade of life.  Her brightly colored ceramic creations fill her small apartment and she makes gifts of them for her 5 grandchildren and growing brood of “greats.”

But it’s not just her zest that draws you in.  She’s warm, the kind of woman it’s easy to open up to, a good listener and curious question-asker. It’s probably this quality, along with her undeniably sweet demeanor, that has kept her in companionship since my grandfather passed.  And it’s this quality that made me want to turn the tables and ask her questions. (more…)

Mama Mzungu (Kenya)

Originally from Chicago, Kim has dabbled in world travel through her 20s and is finally realizing her dream of living and working in Western Kenya with her husband and two small boys, Caleb and Emmet. She writes about tension of looking at what the family left in the US and feeling like they live a relatively simple life, and then looking at their neighbors and feeling embarrassed by their riches. She writes about clumsily navigating the inevitable cultural differences and learning every day that we share more than we don’t. Come visit her at Mama Mzungu.

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JAPAN: In Review

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar, and as it approaches Japanese TV is full of “talent” (celebrities with no actual, recognizable talent) reflecting on the year that has passed.

And it’s been an awful one for everyone in eastern Honshu.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for thus far in 2011:

-I’m thankful we didn’t die in the earthquake on March 11. For two or three minutes there, I wasn’t so sure.

-I’m thankful my son was home with the flu that day. So many children ended up spending the night at school and daycare because their parents were unable to come home from work. Not to mention the parents who never came, or the children who never made it home from school. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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