OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOutside Amman, the capital city of my new home, life continues to unfold much as it has for centuries.  Or so it seems at first glance.

Recently, during a trip to Wadi Rum and Petra, we met and dined with many local Bedouin people.  For dinner, they invited us to share the meat of a sheep which had been freshly slaughtered for our visit.  Our hosts had different histories and journeys that brought them around the fire pit, but they all shared a wonderful pride for their country, their renowned hospitality, and their treasured historical and geological landmarks.

Mubarak, a man about my age, with a weathered face and kind, soft eyes, talked to me for hours around the fire.  He told me of his family’s history, the way he grew up moving from one part of the desert to another during different parts of the year, herding sheep and searching for firewood.  He talked of the Bedouin people’s common ancestry and desire to keep traditions alive, and about his favorite sand dune in the whole desert–his eyes clouded over as he recalled memories of the spot and described how the sand is as fine as flour.  Then, without even a second thought, he grabbed his mobile phone out of his flowing, white shirt and asked if I would like to Skype with his friends Robert and Dee in Mexico.

To me, two worlds collided.

I couldn’t help but fall back on my elbows and laugh.

My children, like yours, are growing up in an ever-changing world.  Preserving unique cultures, traditions and practices is becoming more difficult as we connect digitally through Skype, Facebook, What’sApp and other technology.

I see technology as a great equalizer, an incredible tool for those in the developing world–but also as something to treated with great care if we are to preserve the traditional practices in the world.

What do you do with your children to preserve family or cultural traditions?  Does technology help or hinder your efforts?

Photo credit to the author.  This is an original post to World Moms Blog.

Jacqueline Jenkins (Jordan)

We are a few months into our new 'home of our heart' location in Amman, Jordan. Originally from Canada, I have been moving around the globe for more than twenty years as my husband works for UNICEF. While we were a carefree couple in Uganda, Lesotho and Bangladesh, Meghan joined our family in 2000, while we were living in Myanmar. She was joined in 2005, while we were posted in India by Charlie, her energetic younger brother! Since then we have lived in Mozambique and New York. I am an educator and have been incredibly fortunate to have found rewarding jobs in international schools wherever we have been posted. Most recently I was the Elementary School Principal at the United Nations International School in Manhattan. Since arriving in Jordan, I have been a stay at home Mum, exploring, photographing and learning about the incredible history of the region and the issues facing not only the Jordan population but the incredible number of Syrian refugees currently residing in the country. While I speak English and French, I have not yet started to learn Arabic; a big goal for our time here. I write to record and process this incredible journey we are on as a family. Time passes so incredibly quickly and without a recording of events, it's hard to remember the small moments and wonderings from each posting. Being a mother in this transient lifestyle means being the key cheerleader for our family, it means setting up and taking down a house with six weeks notice, it means creating close friendships and then saying goodbye. All this, while telling yourself that the opportunities your children have make the goodbyes and new hellos worthwhile. Raising a child in this lifestyle has incredible challenges and rewards. The challenges include culture shock every single time, even when you feel the move will be an easy one. It means coaching yourself, in your dark moments to be present and supportive to your children, who have not chosen to move but are trusting you to show them the world and the meaningfulness of the lifestyle we have committed to as a UNICEF family. The upsides to this lifestyle are incredible; the ability to have our children interact and learn about cultures, languages, food, and religions firsthand, the development of tolerance and empathy through relationships with many types of different people and the travel, they have been to more places before the age of ten than some people do in a lifetime! My commitment to raising children who believe in peace and feel responsible for making a difference in creating a better world is at the core of everything I do.

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