Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

My thoughts on our year in West Africa - and moving forward into Lebanon & beyond

My Thoughts On Our Year In West Africa

We're finally here, the end of our West African exploration. About a month late, based on the fact that we started in late February of 2014 - and 3 months late were I to stick with a regular year, beginning and ending in January. But there you have it, we've explored the fascinating region of West Africa - and barely scratched the surface. It is distinctly possible that by choosing an entire region, I bit off more than I could chew.

I still agree with my reasoning for choosing an entire region, and we've learned A LOT - but in order to explore the whole region with our available time, we missed a lot of it. We would have had plenty to do if we had focused solely on any one country. There are so many festivals within each culture, let alone each country that I just gave up on those fairly early on. I could list the many (many) aspects we didn't learn about, but I suppose I should focus on what we did :)

I am pleased with our explorations of various West African textiles, as well as the new foods and recipes we tried. We have a few new fun games in our repertoire and new ways of seeing and appreciating music, in all its forms. We've certainly reached a point where various references make sense to us now in a way they never would have a year ago. Our minds and hearts have been broadened, but I still feel like we could spend many more years in this African region alone.

Moving Forward

There have been weeks on end that I've struggled with this, but it seems the girls have outgrown our explorations. This is no surprise with Pea, now 16, but she was fully engaged until the age of 14. Elle, 12, seems to be somewhat following suit with Pea. Partially, it's how she bridges the difference between their ages. Partially, it's because she's a much more extroverted person who wants to be out and about with her friends more so than Pea ever wanted. Partially, her homework load has also increased and she doesn't want another "lesson" on the weekend (though we don't go about this as "lessons" at all, there's a resistance to adding more information to a mind she just wants to shut off and, these days, draw.) And partially, she's just tired of having her picture taken! But she still enjoys creating and cooking with me, so the key I think from here on out is to put the camera away as often as possible and enjoy our time exploring those aspects she cares for, together. I think I have it worked out that there will still be plenty of photographs on the blog, just fewer still of the girls. We are also going to jump back into celebrating festivals... and there's just no getting out of that :)


Traditional Lebanese treats picked up at a Lebanese bakery as our way of starting off this year's "travels". 

Elle chose Lebanon for this year's "travel" in large part, I think, because of how much she enjoys man'oushe, aka Lebanese pizza. She's also had a variety of classmates whose parents are from Lebanon, which created a connection for her. My only criteria was that we explore a country in the Middle East. What I did not know was how little information I would come across! I'm still digging, but mostly I'm finding (lots of) recipes and accounts of the conflicts. I'm not sure what else I'll find, but we will note how holidays we are familiar with are celebrated in Lebanon (Easter, Christmas, etc) as well as delving deeper into Islam, a religion we know little about. 

And Beyond

There are a few things I'd also like to add to the blog this year. I'm planning to write about how to "explore" France based on what we did and learned a few years ago, what I wish we'd done, and resources I've come across since. 

I'm also going to be participating in a project with Multicultural Kid Blogs called Global Learning for Kids. Starting in May, each month will have a designated country for participants to post about a craft, recipe, book that can be done/used to explore that country with kids. My 7 year old niece and 5 year old nephew will be joining me for these mini explorations, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm sure my biggest challenge will be to limit what we do to two or three things. 

I'm also planning on changing the blog title. I chose "Marie's Pastiche" years ago when I thought I would blog about parenting in general. Anyone who reads this blog on an even semi regular basis knows that I write exclusively about exploring cultures and heritage, and the title just doesn't reflect that. I'd love your opinion on the matter, and any suggestions for names would be great! 


  1. I'm terrible at picking names, I either come up with ridiculously esoteric, or hit you with a hammer obvious. There's no middle ground. I've toyed with changing my blog name, but I still think mine kind of fits.... Probably not really, but I like to think it does.

    I'm scared for the day my kids don't want their picture taken as much. Now hopefully I can go back and hit all your posts still in my reader to check them out.

    1. Any sort of title I come up with seems rather lame to me :) but I've been advised of lots of difficulties if I change it now...so I'm reconsidering it after all. I think the name of your blog is just perfect! Those are definitely adventures you're having in mommydom!

  2. I love your name. I think it reflects your french heritage and kind of reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Simple but eminently stylish.
    I enjoyed reading your reflections as well, especially as I am still trying to figure out how to do our African studies.
    Things definitely change as they get older. I am seeing that with mine too, although they are all still okay with being photographed....for now!

    1. "Eminently stylish" - I never would have thought of that, makes the name sound much better :) I think I will ultimately keep the name, I've been advised of many difficulties it might cause I hadn't thought about, and I do like the name, I've just been thinking it doesn't do much to lead new readers to the blog. Ah well!


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