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Cultural Immersion

I recently spent 8 days in Costa Rica with a group of extension professionals from 10 other states learning about the culture and the history of the country. I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiencosta-rica-country-side.jpgces of my life. You might think, OF COURSE, how could being in a tropical paradise not be wonderful?! Especially since Ohio and much of the Midwest has been experiencing unpredictable weather, to say the least. But, the weather aside, the whole journey was full of wonderful experiences.

This trip was not about sitting on the beach or in the mountains at some all-inclusive resort basking in the sun or the mountain air. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture of the country and getting outside of our comfort zone to learn about people, who at first glance may appear to be different from us and what we know. As we traveled around the country to the various locations (we stayed in 4 different accommodations), we were able to gain a better understanding of how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) live and work.

Our group of 33 were divided into smaller subgroups for different activities throughout the week. We went on a variety of outings designed to increase our cultural awareness and to challenge us in our leadership philosophies and ideas. Our first task was to go to the Central Market in San Jose to check prices of various items and purchase them (we donated all the items to different organizations we later visited). We then had to compare the cost of these items as they relate to the average minimumgreen-house-e1524004828723.jpg wage in the United States versus in Costa Rica. While the cost of the items was somewhat comparable to prices in the U.S., when you look at the minimum wages, the discrepancy was very large. This required us to think about the proportion of the wages in Costa Rica that go toward necessities versus the proportion in the U.S.

The Central Market outing was just the first of many that would challenge us to achieve a common goal while trying to overcome the language barrier in this foreign country. As we traveled around Costa Rica and participated in different activities, the most overarching theme that our entire group observed was how patient and gracious all of the Ticos we encountered were with our groups. Few of us were able to speak and/or understand Spanish, so at times, there was a lot of patience required. Every group related that the Ticos were incredibly helpful, patient and gracious.

A large part of this leadership program involves reflecting on the experiences and lessons we have learned. As we reflected in our large group and in smaller groups, we all wondered what someone traveling to the United States would experience. How would any of us handle trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English or at least not well? Would we have the same patience and understanding that the Ticos had with us? I can honestly say that before this trip, the answer for me would be no. I would not have had the patience and understanding that was shown to me and the others. One of the things I have taken away from this experience is to have more patience. Patience with others, but also patience with myself.

While this trip was for business, when I travel for personal reasons, I try to make it a point to find local places to eat and shop. My Costa Rica experience has taught me that I can do more to enrich my travel experiences. I have not usually lodged in places that allow me to experience the local culture as much as some others might. I will make a more concerted effort to choose places that allow me to have a more immersive experience, since one of the main reasons I like to travel is to be expcosta-rica-food.jpgosed to local culture and to learn about the people and the area.

So, whether you are traveling across the state, across the country, or across the globe, challenge yourself to experience at least a little bit of the local culture. You may just learn some things about yourself by experiencing things that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable to you.

 

WRITTEN BY: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.417@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Amanda, Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Harmon

SOURCES:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2015/january/the-benefits-of-cultural-immersion/

https://global.upenn.edu/pennabroad/about-penn-abroad/academic-and-cultural-immersion

https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Fact-Sheet_Travel-Jobs.pdf

 

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“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

 – Elizabeth Lawrence

Searching for more quality time with family and children?  Might they be your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students?   Want to “unplug” and become more physically active?  Are you looking to practice better health habits and eating?  Well, you can “plant these seeds” and teach children life skills, values, family history, health and other things as “more than a seed is planted in a garden.”

The benefits of gardening with children include:

  • Increasing responsibility, independence, leadership, empathygarden pic, teamwork, and problem solving as they plan, plant, and grow their garden.
  • Creating an awareness of where food comes from as they participate in the processes of growing, transporting, storing, and preparing foods.
  • Developing an understanding and appreciation of nature by interacting with soil, seeds, leaves, stems, plants, water, sun, pollinators, animals, and insects.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles by working in the garden.
  • Creating real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Reducing stress by appreciating the “colors,” “air,” and “morning.”

School programs can benefit from gardening with youth as well. In fact, research and studies about School Gardens show the following:

  • Education acquired in the garden can increase students’ overall academic performance and learn more effectively..
  • Students who engage in school gardens show significant gains in overall grade point average, specifically in math and science.
  • Teachers believe that implementing new learning styles can help students
  • Students expand their ways of thinking or habits of mind to include curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.

You can create a “learning laboratory” by gardening with children, which will teach them about themselves, their families, communities, and life.

Some final thoughts:

“You have the chance to plant a seed of something very special in the hearts, minds, and spirits of your children as you garden together.”  – Cathy James

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”  – Robert Brault

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.  Gardening with Children, Every Child Belongs in a Garden.
https://ceinfo.unh.edu/Community-Gardens/Gardening-Children

Colorado State University Extension.  Department of Human Development & Family Studies.  Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Gardening with Children.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/grg/feature/gardening.html

University of Illinois Extension.  The Great Plant Escape
urbanext.illinois.edu/gpe/links/index.html

Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  Learning Through the Garden.
https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1211/

In order to make meal prepping as efficient as possible, it’s a good idea to have your pantry and freezer already stocked. This will help make your grocery trips each week quicker and cheaper. You will only need to shop for fresh ingredients each week, because you will already have your shelf-stable ingredients stocked up at home. Check out this list of basic pantry and freezer foods to have on hand!

Overnight oats are popular to meal prep, so lets consider how a typical recipe could break down peanut-butter-3216263_1920using shelf-stable and freezer food items. Overnight oats typically utilize oats, milk/yogurt, fruit, and maybe nut butter or honey. Four of these ingredients can be shelf-stable, so you can stock your pantry with them: oats, fruit (canned), nut butter, and honey. In addition to stocking your pantry, you can also stock your freezer with frozen fruit, which can be added to your overnight oats, if you don’t prefer canned fruit. As a result, you will only need to buy fresh milk/yogurt to make your overnight oats for the week!

Having a well prepared freezer can allow you to maintain a healthy diet even on those weeks that you might not have time to get to the grocery store. You can either buy already frozen food items, like fruits and vegetables, or you can cut your own fresh, in-season produce and freeze it. Freezing your own produce may save you some dollars in the long run. Keeping a variety of frozen chopped vegetables helps to ensure that you can add a quick veggie to each of your meals. Not only do veggies make good sides for well-balanced meals, but they are great additions to the main course as well. One of my go-to quick meals is a veggie omelet that only requires having fresh eggs on hand.

In addition to frozen vegetables, having frozen fruit on hand can be great for quick and easy smoothies. In a pinch, you can throw together frozen fruit, frozen spinach (or other veggies, like carrots) into a blender with some water or milk, and yogurt for a quick, nutritious snack. You can also plan ahead and meal prep some pre-portioned smoothie packets to have in your freezer that you can just dump in your blender and go!raspberries-2897386_1920.jpg

Having a fully stocked pantry and freezer can save you time and money as you get started with meal prepping. Prepping pre-portioned meals and snacks can make for an easy, convenient, and healthy week ahead, so it is well worth it, in my opinion. My husband and I do this every week, and we love it, especially now that we are able to utilize our freezer and pantry more. One more tip we have learned is that you can save some of your properly frozen, meal prepped food to add variety to your menus for future weeks without any extra time or hassle. Happy prepping!

Written By: Amy Meehan, MPH, Healthy People Program Specialist, The Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed By:  Misty Harmon, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State Univeristy Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

https://food.unl.edu/basic-foods-cupboard-fridge-and-freezer

http://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/bohlen-19osu-edu/overnight-oatmeal-to-the-rescue/

https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5341

http://extension.uga.edu/programs-services/school-garden-resources/classroom-cookbook/smoothies.html

Probably nothing upsets parents more on a daily basis than the constant bickering and fighting that goes on between children within the family. Sibling rivalry, a common issue faced by most parents, has been around as long as there have been brothers and sisters. As upsetting as it may be, some sibling rivalry and conflict can be beneficial. It gives children their first experience in learning how to interact and get along with others. A child who has siblings is taught how to see another individual’s point of view, how to settle disputes, how to compromise and how to show affection and not hold a grudge.

Even though there is a positive side to quarrels among siblings, there are also times when parents need to intervene.  The following information can give you some guidelines about what might be an appropriate stance to take about when and how to intervene.

black-and-white-childhood-children-460032

  • Stay out of it – If there is normal bickering, minor name calling, then the parent’s role is to stay out of it, and let them settle the disagreement on their own.
  • Acknowledge anger and reflect each child’s viewpoint. – If you notice the volume going up, nasty name-calling, mild physical contact, or threats of danger.
  • Firmly stop the interaction, review rules, and help with conflict resolution. – If the potential for danger is more serious.
  • Firmly stop the children and separate them. – if it becomes a dangerous situation. One in which physical or emotional harm is about to or has occurred. If a child is hurt, attend to that child first, review the rules, and possibly impose a consequence.

One way to manage sibling rivalry between your children is to establish family rules in your home. Having rules in place is a way to communicate your family values and forces you to think in advance about what behavior is important to you and what you want to enforce. These rules need to be enforced with predictable consequences. Don’t ignore the rules or make exceptions when you feel tired. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shares more parenting resources on handling sibling rivalry.

It is also important to remember that you are your child’s first teacher. Modeling cooperative behavior, gives your child an example of how to handle frustrations and resolve conflict. These tips can help decrease the amount of sibling quarrels in your home.   There is nothing better than harmony.

Writer: Kathy Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

 

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

 

As an adult child of alcoholic parents, I know first-hand the effects of alcoholism. Yes, it was tragic at times, heart wrenching, sad, and troubling. But…. I also knew that my parents had a disease and that they loved me in spite of their addictions. One of the positive effects for me was that I learned to be independent and self-sufficient. I also learned the value of hard work and perseverance. I always knew that I wanted to go to college and I became the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. Even though both of my parents passed away in their 50s, they worked on their recovery, starting the first Alcoholics Anonymous group in Pike County. I share a bit of my story with the hopes that you will become more aware of the dangers of drinking too much.

Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, I encourage you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

Did you know?

  • An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Are you concerned about binge drinking? Check out this Chow Line article from Ohio State University.

Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:

  • Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
  • Don’t drink when you are upset.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
  • Avoid places where people drink a lot.
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an alcohol portal with sections devoted to:

If you want more information about these topics, visit the CDC website. 

Remember, if you are concerned about someone’s drinking, there are ways to offer help. Check out these websites for additional information and treatment suggestions:

National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholics Anonymous

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

References:

Turner, T., and Hatsu, I. Binge drinking: How much is too much? Available https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/chow-line-binge-drinking-%E2%80%94-how-much-is-too-much

https://www.ncadd.org/

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://healthfinder.gov/nho/AprAnnounce.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/alcoholportal/index.html

Written by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Have you been touched by autism? I have a friend whose child has severe autism, limiting speech and functioning. She embraces her son and helps him with so many challenges and yet the struggle can be exhausting. I recently met an artist whose creative genius can be attributed to her autism. I once heard Temple Grandin speak in person about her amazing life with autism. Maybe you know someone with autism, or maybe you’d like to learn more about it. Maybe your child has a classmate with autism. In any case, we can all do more to learn how to accept and support individuals and families living with autism.

Logo_WAAD

The eleventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2018. Across the globe, countless landmarks, buildings, homes and communities will light up blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions demonstrated by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism is also characterized by unique strengths and differences. There are many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

Although the symptoms of autism widely vary, the most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Parents with concerns are urged to seek evaluation early, as intervention can improve outcomes.

Autism Speaks shares these facts about autism:mother-2605132_960_720

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and phobias.

It’s likely that many school age children will interact with autistic children in their school. The National Autism Society provides age appropriate resource guides to help students not only understand autism but also learn to connect with autistic children.

Sesame Workshop launched a new online initiative called “See Amazing in All Children” to promote awareness and acceptance of children ages 2-5 with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The website features narrated videos that reflect a diverse group of ASD children, an electronic storybook that features Julia, a new Muppet character who is Autistic, and eight daily routine card sets. After utilizing website materials, parents of non-autistic children reported increased knowledge and acceptance of those with autism, and parents of children with ASD reported increases in confidence and hope in raising their ASD children. Sesame Workshop also has information to help adults know what to say to the parent of an autistic child.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Sources:

  • AutismSpeaks.org
  • National Autism Society
  • Sesame Workshop

Picture sources:

  • Autism Speaks
  • Pixabay

 

 

I was about 4 weeks from my due date when I stepped out our back door and noticed that the bricks supporting the step were loose. As time was flying by, I knew that in the blink of an eye, our baby would be born and then crawling and mobile before we knew it, and that the step needed to be fixed before that time came.

Safety hazards like these are usually easy to spot. When you have small children, however, there are some less-obvious things to evaluate in the home to ensure a safe environment and minimize the risk of an accident.Untitled

Thankfully, there are handy checklists available from trusted sources like WebMD and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. There are also entire sections on ‘baby proofing’ in baby stores that will equip you with supplies for creating a safer home.

Beyond implementing the standard recommendations, it is important for parents to take a common-sense approach based on what could potentially be hazardous in their home. Do you have a loose step that could cause a fall, or a window with a broken closing device that could slam on a tiny finger? Be sure to fix those sooner than later. Are there small items, trinkets or pet toys that could present a choking or ingestion hazard? Put those away in a secure place that a child cannot access (do this for anything that is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll). Do your window blinds have long pull ropes that could cause strangulation? Is there a staircase that does not have a door or other barrier?

Use the checklists to begin, but don’t forget to also do a thorough walk around your home and consider the things that may not be listed. Remember to keep an eye out for poisonous substances that a child could access. Finally, get down on the ground level – where your baby will spend lots of time – and see what might need to be picked up, moved, or placed out of reach.

It may seem odd to baby proof before your baby is even mobile, but many babies progress quickly through milestones, and can go from just rolling over to crawling in a short time. Don’t let it become too late to start making a safer home!

Speaking of baby safety, be sure to read our blog post about safe sleep for infants. Safe sleep environments are critical for a baby-safe home.

Writer: Joanna Fifner Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.
Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.
Sources
American Association of Poison Control Centers (2018) Emergency. Information.Prevention. http://www.aapcc.org/
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2013) Poison Control Home Safety Checklist http://www.chop.edu/health-resources/poison-control-home-safety-checklist
WebMD (2016) Slideshow:Baby Proofing Essentials https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-proofing-essentials