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Five Cultures in One Family — How They Make it Work

Terri Mairley. Courtesy of Kosha Yoga.

Terri Mairiley, her younger son— Julian, her grandson Adelyus, and her father — Bob are a family who in their own minds, operate as if they are living in a post-racial world. They effortlessly make five cultures work in a single family.

Photo of Yoga Instructor, Terri Mairley
Photo of Yoga Instructor, Terri Mairley Photo Courtesy of Kosha Yoga.

A world that is free from discrimination, racial preference, and prejudice.

From grandfather to grandson, they each are aware of the fact that they carry — within their four-generations, Latin, Scottish, African, Mexican, and American cultures.

However, on a daily basis, though they are aware of the religious, race, gender, and nationality challenges in media and politics they have this beautiful mantra that many in the family repeated — “People are people”.

When talking with Bob, the family patriarch, he said as a young man he noticed things were not equal among different people.

He wanted to change that through one-on-one interaction.

With each new person from a different culture that he met, he presented himself in a friendly manner, remained open to learning about the other person, and to sharing about himself.

Then, he waited to see how they would respond to the exchange.

Let nature take its course

Bob said:

“If you want to impress them, you can’t force it on them, you let nature take its course — so to speak. It may not change their entire opinion because of stereotypes, but they may realize that one person [Bob] is not so different from them”.

Bob and his wife never impressed on their children an idea of how they should relate to other people. They grew up in an academic setting within a multiethnic community while Bob was a graduate student.

In 1969, they even became good friends with a couple whose background is of  Hungarian and Caucasian-American heritage.

Bob worked as a biologist with the environmental protection agency.

He was involved in regulatory and scientific efforts, working with many lawyers and engineers. And he attempted to dispel some of the prevailing stereotypes of that era.

Culture and its influence on how people view race

“Culture has a lot of influence on race … but you will find that you have more in common with people who have very different physical features than you have with people who share your physical features”. Bob said of people in general, his colleagues, and the visitors of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where Bob has been a volunteer for nearly 27-years as a facilitator at the various exhibit, facilitation stations.

Bob’s cultural-fluidity helped to shape his daughter’s worldview. “I didn’t give it [creating a multicultural family by marrying outside of my ethnicity] any thought as to how to make all of these different cultures work because I just look at the person, not at their race. As I get older, I notice that everyone doesn’t think like me”.

When Terri had children she said she didn’t think there would be any problems for her multiracial, children.

Now, she is aware of the challenges that people like her family experience in the world. However, she still offers this beautiful, optimistic point of view that echoes what a future post-racial, multicultural world might be like.

“I think we just find so much separation and judgment when really we are all the same. There are so many multicultural people now that I don’t think it will make a difference”.

Culture shock in Costa Rica

Recently, Terri and her teenage son Julian— a Cross-Culture Kid (CCK) traveled to Costa Rica. “It was a culture shock”— Julian said of his first impression of Costa Rica.

He remarked on the delicious food and the friendly Costa Rican people who were very patient and helpful when he tried to practice his Spanish speaking skills.

Although Julian is of Mexican and African-American ancestry, he did not learn to speak Spanish from his Latin relatives.

Rather, he learned Spanish in school.

Bob’s great-grandson — Adelyus, also a CCK, got his name from his Scottish grandfather’s lineage.

Adelyus, a shy first-grader, seemed to share his family’s perspective of “People are people.” He seemed not to be concerned with a person’s pedigree, it only mattered to him if they were a good friend or not.

This delightful family, causes one to only wonder — has the world moved a little closer to a time where we will all concern ourselves less with a person’s national origin, race, religion, gender and other separating characteristics?

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.

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