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How to Introduce Your Kids to New Cultures without Leaving the Country

By introducing kids to other cultures, we expand their horizons, teach them to respect others and ultimately help them to become open and accepting individuals. To achieve this you don’t necessarily need to pack your passports and cross international borders. Cultures vary, not only between countries, but also within countries.  You can experience different values, beliefs and ways of life mere hours from home.

Trekking through the cow pasture in Yerbo, Spain. The girls had such a great time experiencing life in a small farming village. What a difference from their lives in the city.
Trekking through the cow pasture in Yerbo, Spain. The girls had such a great time experiencing life in a small farming village. What a difference from their lives in the city.

We recently took a two-week road trip through Portugal and through parts of Spain. During the second week, we met up with friends at Ca Lulon, lovely rental apartments located in Yerbo, a tiny “pueblo.” The village of Yerbo has a population of approximately 29 and not a single shop or market. The cow population outranks the human population, I’m pretty sure.

The morning commute: herding the cows to pasture.
The morning commute: herding the cows to pasture.

Although we were only a 5+ hour car ride away from our home in Madrid, we felt like we were in another country. In Yerbo, the day begins by herding the cows out to pasture and ends by herding them home, milking them and feeding them. The day in between entails tending to the agriculture, the bee hives, the goats — general life on a farm.

Learning about a different culture: life on a farm. Feeding the cows in the evening was the highlight of each day!
Learning about a different culture: life on a farm. Feeding the cows in the evening was the highlight of each day!

For our city kids, this was a cultural awakening and they loved it! They couldn’t wait each day for the cows to come home so they could help feed them and watch them being milked. They loved the freedom they had to run and play in the fields, to visit the farm animals, and to explore the pastures and the dirt roads that made up the village.

A taste of freedom to roam unsupervised (or so they thought). Our city kids loved their cross-cultural experience in the farming town of Yerbo, Asturias, Spain.
A taste of freedom to roam unsupervised (or so they thought). Our city kids loved their cross-cultural experience in the farming town of Yerbo, Asturias, Spain.

They also made a new friend — a little girl who lived in the village. Despite huge differences in backgrounds, upbringing, and ways of life, they played like they’d known each other for ages. Hide-and-seek is universal, as is the joy of running and jumping and petting animals.

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Different backgrounds, upbringing, ways of life and yet immediate playmates. Posing with their new friend (center) after a fun game of hide-and-seek.

When we said our farewells, the kids said they couldn’t wait to come back for a visit. The experience gave them a new perspective on the world and an understanding of a different way of life — and, most important, they had fun. They did, fortunately, stop short of asking to move to a farm. Whew!

Postscript: We discovered Ca Lulon through the folks at Travel Peques, a website dedicated to travel with kids. They have some great recommendations. So if you speak Spanish, or, like me, can at least muddle through, the site is worth a peruse before your next trip.

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