Category Archives: Caribbean

The Best Countries for Women & Girls

Photo courtesy of DoSomething.org

Happy 101st International Women’s Day!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some news about women from around the world.

The British newspaper, The Independent, reviewed data from around the world to evaluate how women are faring.

Studies show that by focusing on education for women in developing countries and providing them with the means to support themselves and their families, the rates of poverty and child mortality decrease dramatically.

Working together, we can create a world where every child has access to a quality education, health care, and enjoys their human rights and liberties.

Politics

In Rwanda, women hold 45 out of 80 parliamentary seats. This is the only country in the world where there are more women than men at this level of political prominence. Belize, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have no female members of parliament.

Photo courtesy: AlmostAllTheTruth.com

Business & Work Place

Thailand has the most women managers in the work place in the world. Forty-five percent of senior managers in Thailand are women. In the US, only 20 percent of women hold senior management positions. In Japan, only 8 percent of senior management jobs are held by women.

In Jamaica, almost 60 percent of the high-skilled jobs are held by women.

Life Expectancy

Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world – 87 years.

Sports

The United States is the best place in the world to be a female athlete. Five out of the ten best-paid female athletes in the world are from the US. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has never sent a woman to the Olympics.

Literacy

Lesotho has the best female literacy rate compared to the men’s rate in the world. Ninety-five percent of women in Lesotho can read and write. Only 83 percent of the men in Lesotho can read and write.

Best Overall

Taking political participation, education, health, and employment statistics into account, Iceland has been named the best country in the world for women.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s do our best to encourage and inspire the girls and young women in our lives so that we can make every country the best country on earth for them.

To read the entire report, click here.

For more facts about the status of women and girls around the world, check out DoSomething.org’s website and Almostallthetruth.com.

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Besitos de Coco

Besitos de coco, also known as “coconut kisses,” are a traditional Puerto Rican dessert and are commonly served at Christmas (Navidad).

Christmas in Puerto Rico is a family-centric holiday. Some celebrations begin in early December and do not end until the Dia de los Reyes, the Feast of the Three Kings, or three wise men.

Singing also plays an important role in traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebrations. A group of friends will gather, along with their musical instruments, and surprise another friend at home. They will sing songs and celebrate for several hours.

In addition, many families celebrate by roasting a whole pig on a spit. The pig is placed on the spit as early as four o’clock in the morning and two people have to watch it cook for hours to ensure that it does not burn. In the meantime, others prepare side dishes while children play games. Guests may bring desserts such as besitos de coco or flan.

Make some besitos de coco with your family using this recipe from Cooking Clarified and enjoy!

 

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It’s Election Day – Learn About Elections Around the World

Today is Election Day in the United States. It’s an important day in which citizens exercise their right to vote for people to represent them at the city, county, state, and national levels.

Elections date back to ancient Greece and Rome. They have been used to elect the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

In India, elections were held at the village level.

Ancient Arabs used elections to select their leader, called the caliph.

To be a good citizen, Americans have to educate themselves about the issues, decide which are the most important to them, research the candidates for public office, and cast their ballot on Election Day.

Many Americans also volunteer for political campaigns. They might go door to door with information about the candidates and the issues to educate others. They might make phone calls to voters to provide resources and information. They may work to put together a mailing or help create a website.

Political involvement doesn’t begin when the polls open on Election Day and end when they close. To truly participate in the democratic process, Americans have to stay engaged throughout the year so they can hold their representatives accountable.

Once candidates take office, Americans need to communicate with them to ensure that they continue to support the positions that mean the most to the voters. If a candidate seems to be listening to a minority of powerful and influential people and ignoring the concerns of the citizens who elected them, people have to contact those representatives and hold them accountable for their choices.

Americans are very fortunate to have one of the most responsive systems of government in the world. But many other countries also vote. Here’s a list of nations and how their leaders are chosen.

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

About 112 countries hold direct elections for their head of state. A direct election means that voters directly cast their ballots for the person or political party they want to support. More than 220 countries (including dependent territories) hold direct elections at the local level.

The United States holds indirect elections for the head of state, also known as the president. Indirect elections mean that voters cast their ballots for a representative who will select a candidate for president.

To learn more about elections around the world, check out Elections 101 from PBS Kids and Democracy Around the World from PBS Teachers.

If you’re interested in participating in a vote just for children, check out The Global Vote on issues that affect children around the world.

Happy Election Day!

 

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New E-Book Blends Food & Culture

The Best International Flavors You're NOT Grilling With!I am so happy to announce that our e-book, The BEST International Flavors You’re NOT Grilling With! is now available from Amazon.com.

This is the first e-book my co-author, Chef Danielle Turner of www.CookingClarified.com, and I have put together. We share a love of other cultures (and food) and as mothers we want to encourage our children to be curious about people and places around the world.

In this grilling e-book, we’re expanding our outreach to parents, particularly fathers who are the stereotypical “grill masters” in their families. By encouraging dads to experiment with new foods and learn about new cultures, we hope that both mom and dad (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) will model the behavior we hope children will adopt.

For more information about the e-book, check out KidCulture’s Grilling page or visit Chef Danielle’s website, CookingClarified.

If you’re convinced that grilling with global influences is something your family would enjoy, we hope you’ll buy our book and support our efforts.

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Donut Days: Festival from Jamaica

FestivalYou can make any day a festival with these fried corn fritters from Jamaica.

It’s said they got their name because they’re so good, it’s like having a festival in your mouth!

Festival are a great donut to eat with jerk spiced dishes from the Caribbean.

Play with the shape and you’ve got lots of variety in one little donut.

These donuts are the favorite so far of Chef Danielle from Cooking Clarified.

Check out her Festival recipe to see why.

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September is National Papaya Month

papayaIf you thought September was just back-to-school, the beginning of the end of summer, and the start of a new fiscal year, think again. It turns out September is also National Papaya Month, which answers the question that tormented us back in June (during National Mango Month): “When will papayas get their turn?”.

Papayas are another fruit I discovered while living in Burkina Faso, West Africa. My friend, Salimata, introduced them to me. Her method is still my favorite way of eating papayas. She took a sharp knife and split the papaya in half, long-ways.  She scooped out the black seeds inside with a spoon. Incidentally, she disposed of the seeds outside her house and about a year later we had a little papaya tree growing! Finally, Sali cut a lime in half and squeezed the juice onto the papaya’s flesh and then we dug in.  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart.

There are plenty of other ways to eat papayas: in smoothies, frozen like gelato,  or cubed in a fruit salad. But don’t just take my word – or ideas – for it! Check out what some other mom-chefs are doing to get their families to eat papaya.

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Vacation Time

vacation-travelJust for fun – and since so many people seem to be on vacation – I thought it would be interesting to compare American’s vacation time to people in other countries.

Italy 42 days
France 37 days
Germany 35 days
Brazil 34 days
United Kingdom 28 days
Canada 26 days
Korea 25 days
Japan 25 days
U.S. 13 days
 
 
Source: World Tourism Organization (WTO).
I could editorialize about this, but I think it speaks for itself!

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A Conversation on Immigration

I caught Dr. Dan Gottlieb’s radio show, “Focus on Family” on WHYY on Monday and I was intrigued.  The topic was immigration and how children and families are affected by immigration issues (legal as well as illegal).  One anecdote in particular caught my attention.  A woman called in and identified herself as Jamaican-American.  As a first-generation American mother, she was concerned about how to help her children, who were born in America, navigate American cultural norms.  She explained that during one family trip to Jamaican she assisted her children in purchasing colorful bracelets to give as presents to their friends in America.  When her children tried to give their friends the bracelets, the gifts were refused because parents believed the bracelets were somehow related to Rastafarianism.  

images-1I could only imagine the sadness the mother and her children felt to have their gift rebuffed.  It reminded me that Americans, for all our good qualities, can be rather myopic when it comes to understanding other people’s cultures.  It was a very interesting broadcast so I highly recommend listening to it.

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Flag Day Fun!

imagesSo I was wondering, do other countries celebrate a “flag day”?  Apparently, they do:

In Argentina, Flag Day (or Dia de la Bandera Nacional) is celebrated on June 20 to honor the flag’s creator, Manuel Belgrano.  

Australia celebrates National Flag Day on September 3.  It was only formally proclaimed in 1996.  Several people are credited with designing the Australian flag, including a school boy!

The Flag Day of Romania has been celebrated on June 26 since 1998.  

Haitian Flag Day occurs on May 18.  Even Haitians living outside the country carry the Haitian flag around to commemorate the day.  

So how do you celebrate Flag Day?  Do you celebrate any other countries’ flag days?

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Vamos Comer a Puerto Rico

Fort in Old San Juan

This summer I took my son to visit Puerto Rico.  It was my first experience in a Spanish-language culture and even though it’s technically the United States, it’s got a different vibe.  

I broke my son out of the resort we were staying in on our third day on the island and took him to visit two of the castles/forts that can be found in San Juan.  

We also walked around “viejo” San Juan and looked for what I called “street food” but that just alarmed my son who thought that meant we would be eating in the middle of the busy roads.  

We did enjoy a nice meal out that included plantains, one of my favorite foods as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa.  It’s always interesting to find these little food connections across cultures.

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