Encourage 4-H youth to appreciate multiculturalism

Explore how to implement the sixth 4-H guiding principle in 4-H clubs and communities.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has seven guiding principle for positive youth development. This is the sixth installment in a series that explores each of those guiding principles.

The sixth Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development is “Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.”

4-H is unique among youth-serving organizations because it involves young people of any age, gender or religious background into a single club. No other youth-serving organization that I know of can claim this. There are many things we can do to encourage diversity and multiculturalism in 4-H club settings.  What has your club done?

Michigan is very diverse, and we have tremendous cultural resources available. Historical, art and other museums are listed on the Pure Michigan website. Many of these museums have sponsored “free days” or discounted rates.  

Many communities have plays and concerts funded through local organizations or performed by volunteers. Check out your local newspaper entertainment section or local television station community calendars.

Diversity can be local, too. You may consider doing an exchange with members from another club. You can learn from each other and use good ideas from another group. Your club could visit a church, mosque or synagogue to learn more about a different culture.

My favorite way to learn about other cultures is through food. I love eating new things from different parts of the planet. You can have a potluck at a club meeting and have each family bring a dish from their family tradition. You could also have club members pull a country out of a hat and make a dish from that country and present some history and cultural information as well.

Many communities across the state have Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic or other markets where you can get new foods and new ingredients. If you don’t feel up to cooking yourself, maybe going out to eat is a possibility. In the county, you can find places to eat Chinese, French, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Irish, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Polish, Thai, Ethiopian, German, Swedish, Russian and more (I am getting hungry just thinking about it). Foodways, a 4-H project has materials listed online.

For those of you in livestock projects, learning about other cultures can also help you sell your animal. Often the buyers for lambs, goats and non-chicken poultry may be more prevalent in other cultures. Are there rules you need to follow to prepare your animal for a particular cuisine or religion? Do certain cultures prefer pastured or grain-fed animals? What age and weight of animals do those buyers prefer? What are the major holidays and what animals are typically eaten on those holidays?

Your club could contact a local religious organization or a student organization from a local university to provide some insight to your club.

By incorporating cultural activities into your 4-H activities you can help youth become better citizens who can understand the world around them.

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