To leave your home country and move to another one for the betterment of yourself and your family is one of the hardest things to do. My family and I decided to move to Canada two years ago in search of better opportunities for our daughters, especially our youngest, who has Down Syndrome.
While the idea of moving seemed exciting sometimes, most of the time, leaving your parents, your home, your friends, and the life we had built together seemed daunting. After all, we do need our village to survive. Would we be able to create a new village in the new country? Would our children get to know about our traditions and roots? All these questions never left our minds when we came to Canada.
Two years down, I think we have been on the right path in building our new home, making our own family traditions, and adapting to the change while keeping our roots intact. Here are a few tips to help immigrant families transition while keeping old traditions.
Sharing stories from home
One way to keep your roots strong is by sharing stories from your home country. Very often, we sit down as a family and talk about your culture, traditions, and the history of your homeland. I asked my friend to send in some books from home that I could read at bedtime. The girls find them very amusing and have lots of questions about them. This often sparks conversations about my husband and my personal childhood experiences. It makes them understand where they come from and value differences.
Making traditional meals together
Back home, like any culture, we had special food for special occasions. I started making those for them to recreate some of my core childhood memories that I still carry with myself. Just like the smell of a particular cuisine reminds you of a special occasion, I try to create that for my daughters here. It is delightful to watch them cherish it and own it.
Celebrating cultural holidays together
As a family, we make sure to make a big deal out of the cultural/religious holidays that we celebrate back home. The best thing about Canada’s diverse culture is that we can get decorations similar to back home easily. A night before the holiday, we decorate our home, we dress up, and celebrate as a family just the way we used to.
Speaking the native language at home
When we moved here, we made sure to speak in our native language at home. This keeps them connected to their roots and helps them not feel alienated when we speak to friends or family back home. They love listening to songs and watching movies about them. One day, my daughter came very excited from school because they played a well-known song from our home country at her school’s cultural day. I remember her feeling so proud of her identity. A bonus is that it helps them stay connected with their grandparents back home.
Visiting back home
Now that Covid restrictions are over, planning a trip back home has become easier. Since we came here, we have been able to make one trip back home, it really helped in refreshing my children’s memory about it. While they loved meeting family, and experiencing their traditions firsthand, it also made them value what we have created here more. We got to eat our favorite local street food and had a wholesome time.
The hardest part of moving to a new country is the fear of missing out on what is happening back home. All I wanted was to be there for my best friend on her wedding, and with my family on my grandfather’s death. I mourned my children not being able to be there on some of the most special occasions back home. However, in this digital age, talking to our loved ones back home and staying connected with them on video calls and texts has been the biggest support. It helps making the miles long distance feel less far.
In the end, the tough times make us realize how strong and resilient we are. While embarking on a new journey, keeping a piece of your home with you through these little traditions keeps us grounded. Moving away from home might feel overwhelming, however, gradually, we learn to make a new home for our family to call their haven. Just like the roots of the trees, our own roots help our family grow and thrive in our new home.