Category Archives: Latin America

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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Filed under Africa, Caribbean, Europe, Holiday, Latin America, Learn, Middle East, North America

The Longest Party in the World

Although Carnival, the traditional festivities celebrated by Christians around the world before Lent begins, has already come and gone, one country has the distinction of hosting the longest Carnival celebrations of any other nation.

The people of Uruguay, a South American country located on the Atlantic coast and nestled between Brazil and Argentina, celebrates Carnival for 40 days!

Although the Carnival celebrations in Brazil gain more attention, Uruguay’s Carnival has religious, cultural, social, and political meaning.

Like most countries, Uruguay hosts parades as part of their Carnival celebrations. The Desfile de Carnaval, which means the Carnival Parade, and the Desfile de Llamadas, the “Calls Parade”, which is a re-enactment of colonial times.

In addition, Uruguay has a strong musical and comedy tradition. Street performances, called murga, mix music, acting, and comedy and are used to amuse and entertain children while offering biting political satire for grown-ups.

Judges visit the murga in different neighborhoods and award prizes for the best.

Although Carnival in Uruguay ended on Ash Wednesday, there’s plenty of time to make plans to visit Uruguay for Carnival 2013!

 

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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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Superstitions Around the World

At Halloween, it’s fun to explore the things we don’t understand and examine the steps we take to control the things that just can’t be controlled. For example:

When you spill salt, do you throw a pinch over your left shoulder for good luck?

Do you believe black cats are unlucky?

Do you think that if you break a mirror, you’ll have bad luck for seven years?

Do you avoid the number 13?

These are all superstitions with which most Americans are familiar.

Even if we don’t believe in them, we pass this information on to our children because it’s part of our collective cultural heritage. We feel they should be aware of these beliefs.

But what other superstitions do people believe around the world? How are they different? Here’s a brief look at superstitions around the world to help you understand other cultures.

The Spooky Numbers 4 and 17

In Japan, it’s the number 4, not 13, that makes hearts race. In Italy, it’s the number 17. In these cultures, many hotels and hospitals avoid using these numbers to prevent their guests and patients from unnecessary pessimism. Of course, these buildings still have fourth and seventeenth floors, they just aren’t listed as such.

The Broken Dish

In the Netherlands, a broken dish is believed to bring bad luck in much the same way a broken mirror does.

More About Cats

In the Netherlands, private matters should not be discussed when a cat is in the room. People believe that cats are untrustworthy and spread gossip.

Tuesday

Tuesdays hold a special place in superstition. Tuesday the 13th is considered a particularly bad-luck day in many cultures in much the same way that Friday the 13th is bad luck to many Americans. In India, you cannot get a hair cut on Tuesdays because it’s believed to bring bad luck.

Bad Dreams

In Romania, if you dream about dark water or that you are carrying a newborn baby in your arms, you can expect bad luck. In China, dreaming about teeth or snow means that your parents have died.

More About Mirrors

If you thought breaking a mirror was bad, then you definitely do not want to place a mirror anywhere near the foot of your bed. If you do, Italians believe it permits the devil to watch you sleep. And if you wake up in the night and catch a glimpse of your reflection in that mirror, it means that evil owns you.

Watch Out For the Evil Eye

Many cultures believe in the evil eye which brings big-time bad luck. In Guatemala, parents can protect their children from the evil eye by dressing the kids in red; even a red bracelet will help.

Don’t Get Swept Away

In Venezuela, some people believe that if someone pushes a broom over your feet while they are sweeping, they also sweep away your chances of ever getting married. In many parts of Africa, you are never supposed to sweep your house at night. It is believed that you will sweep your good luck away.

Respect the Moon

In China, if you point to the moon with your finger the tips of your ears will fall off.

Whether or not you’re superstitious, it’s good to be aware – and respectful – of other people’s beliefs. When you visit people in their homes or travel to different countries, you need to respect these beliefs in order to be a considerate guest.

 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Europe, Faith, Holiday, Latin America, Learn

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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Filed under Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Eat, Europe, Latin America, Learn, Middle East, Read

International Food for Your All-American Cookout

Pavlova

Pavlova photo courtesy of http://www.kiwibaking.com

American Independence Day – also known as the Fourth of July – is one of the biggest barbecue holidays of the year.

This year, you can freshen up your party menu by incorporating cuisines from around the world. Not only will it give your guests some new flavors to enjoy but it will also permit everyone to celebrate one of the greatest things about our country: that we welcome all people here from around the world.

1. German Potato Salad

More than 17% of Americans report themselves as having some German ancestry, which is the largest self-reported ancestral group. Odds are, if you’re hosting a barbecue for the 4th of July, at least some of your guests are German-Americans. Here’s a Food Network recipe for German Potato Salad to help you celebrate.

2. Tandoori Chicken

Try something new on the grill with this recipe for Tandoori Chicken. You can adjust the seasonings to make it more – or less – spicy without sacrificing the amazing flavor.

3. Korean Barbecue

There’s nothing like barbecued spare ribs on the 4th of July, so tuck your napkin into your collar and get ready to get messy with this Korean Barbecue recipe from Epicurious.com. As of the 2000 Census, there are more than one million Korean-Americans in the United States.

4. Mexican Salad with Avocado Dressing

Fresh and delicious, this salad would go beautifully with whatever else you’re serving at your celebration. It’s also a great way to honor Mexican-Americans, whose numbers have increased 58% between the 1990 and 2000 Census.

5. Austalia/New Zealand’s Pavlova

Not only is this a beautiful-looking dessert, it’s also light after a heavy meal of barbecued foods. It uses fresh strawberries, but if you want to re-create the American flag, go ahead and dot in some blueberries to give the dish our traditional red, white, and blue look.

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Learn About Mexico on Cinco de Mayo

Children celebrate cinco de mayoCinco de Mayo is a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the pinatas, maracas, and quesadillas to help children understand – and respect – Mexican culture.

KidCulture has already explained what Cinco de Mayo is really all about here, so let’s concentrate on what we don’t know about one of America’s closest neighbors.

For example, did you know that Mexico is the 15th largest country in the world? You would think that would earn them some bragging rights!

And although Mexico is a large country, most people prefer to live in cities. Mexico’s largest cities include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, and Juarez.

The name, “Mexico,” comes from the Nahuatl language. Although the exact meaning is not clear, it is believed to mean “the place where the God of War lives” or “the place at the center of the moon.”

Mexico has a relatively young population. Nearly one-third of its people are 14 years or younger.

While most people speak Spanish (more than 97 percent), indigenous languages such as Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages are also spoken. In fact, more than one percent of the population does not speak Spanish at all.

While 86 percent of the population can read and write, on average people only receive about 14 years of education. However, Mexico has a strong tradition of education. The Aztecs are the first recorded civilization to mandate universal education for everyone.

Mexico has become a popular tourist destination in part because of its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Yet Mexico also has deserts such as the Sonoran where temperatures can reach as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mexico is also home to one of the most diverse animal populations in the world, particularly among reptiles. More than 700 reptile species can be found in Mexico.

It is believed that indigenous people in Mexico first domesticated corn, enabling them to better control their access to food. This, in turn, transformed the society and firmly established Mexican food among world cuisines. Amazon.com lists more than 700 different Mexican cookbooks.

Corn, or maize, continues to be a staple of Mexican cuisine. From tamales to tortillas, corn is essential.

Mexican food is extremely well-known – and beloved. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you might consider trying some new Mexican recipes with your family. Here are some suggestions:

In addition, there are several excellent Mexican cookbooks for children. Check out The Young Chef’s Mexican Cookbook by Karen Ward as a start.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Donut Days: Sonhos from Brazil

SonhosIf you dream of donuts in Brazil, you’re in luck. One of Brazil’s most beloved donuts is actually called sonhos – or dream.

The sonhos may have originated in Portugal – and some food writers even claim it is related to Polish donuts – but Brazilians have made them all their own.

Filled with guava jelly or dulce de leche, sonhos are a delicious treat with coffee (or milk).

They are frequently enjoyed around the Christmas holidays but we know we don’t need a holiday to enjoy dreams – or donuts!

Check out Chef Danielle’s sonhos recipe at CookingClarified.com.

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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 Culture Double-Standard

When people find out that I am encouraging my son to be multi-lingual (so far, English, French and hopefully Spanish), they usually applaud my efforts.  They don’t know how successful (or unsuccessful) I might be in actually accomplishing my goal, but they typically quote statistics about how children are more likely to master a language if they are exposed to it early in life.  They might also point to studies that show mastery of another language actually improves students’ performance in English.  

That is why I am always surprised – and disappointed – to hear people express negative opinions on families who speak Spanish at home.  Instead of applauding their efforts (the way mine are), people condemn them.  I won’t pretend to be an expert on why this double-standard exists but I am hopeful that the more we think about – and draw attention – to these double standards, the better our chances of eradicating them entirely.

OK, off my soapbox now.images

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