Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I grew up in the panhandle of Texas. There weren't alot of enriching activities for me as a child. Our only museum was a Plain's Indians museum, so mostly had exhibits about the Indians, and about the animals of the plains. My mother would take us there occasionally, and also to the adjoining Planetarium. That was the extent of excitement in our town.

We didn't have much diversity either. The kids in our schools were probably 99.9 percent caucasian. We lived fairly close to the border of Mexico, but we didn't even have many Latino children in our school. We just weren't exposed to many cultures or languages.

I've written previously about my friend Li Jia Na. One day she came to my house and saw a box of things I was giving away. Among the things were some baby toys, including rattles. She asked me if she could have one. She said that she never had any toys as a baby, and wondered if it affected her intelligence. I found her to be quite bright, with good English, so it was hard for me to imagine that her intelligence was affected at all by her lack of toys.

My own children have alot more enrichment in their lives than I ever did. My oldest son has friends who are Egyptian, Indian Seiks, Latino, Chinese, Fillipino, and more. They are exposed to food from different countries. They are exposed to many languages, including Chinese which my husband and I speak in the home. They have spent many hours at museums and the exploratorium in San Francisco. Overall, they have had a much more enriched childhood than I ever dreamed of as a child.

My children are intelligent, but I don't necessarily think the enriching experiences are what made them so. I think what those experiences have done for them is teach them tolerance for and appreciation of other people, places, languages and things. Not only that, their eyes have been opened to see that America is a small place in this big planet. Having lived in China, they tasted what it means to live in a third world country, but they were young at the time. I think the experiences they have had since coming home have been much more educational for them.

I didn't have the kinds of enriching experiences when I was young that my children have had, but as an adult I have been trying to catch up. Some believe that your intelligence quotient never changes. I like to believe that you can increase your intelligence. I don't know if having these experiences has affected my intelligence or not, but I know it has affected my out look of the world, and my view of other cultures and people. This is knowledge of the best kind, that can't be learned from a textbook.

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