Majority Rules

People of mixed racesThis post was inspired by Ronit’s diversity education, by our family’s life in several countries around the world, by Eden’s recent foray into academic research, by our many dealings with people of different communication styles, bust mostly by my occasional frustration of being a minority…

Having grown up in one place for 28 years and then moved to another country, Ronit and I had to change many basic assumptions about what everyone knows, how everyone thinks and what everyone expects. It is called Culture Shock. We already knew quite a bit about the United States (I had even been an exchange student there), so the change did not shock us, but boy was it different.

Now imagine going from that to Thailand! Hardly any English, driving on the left, completely different social norms and ethics, hot, humid, rainy, full of mosquitoes… What everyone did in Thailand was very different to what everyone did in Texas.

The thing is, in each one of these places, people who had grown up there and had never been anywhere else could not perceive anything other than what they had been accustomed to. To them, “everyone” was everyone they knew and that was good enough.

Read more about why you should be more accepting

My Name is My Identity

NamelessRecently, I ran a series of workshops with about 700 students in grades 6 and 8. The workshops were about diversity and acceptance and how to treat migrants coming from different cultural backgrounds. One of the questions that came up in every session was about names – what do you do with your name once you move to live in a different country?

I have been running these workshops over the last 4 years and have seen over 10,000 students from grade 4 to grade 12. In many places, the kids were convinced that changing a name is a must when you move to a new country and when I ask them if they know the meaning of their name, surprise, surprise (or maybe not), most of them do not know the meaning of their own name.

Out of 700 students, only about 30 raised their hands to share the meaning of their names with others, while the rest were nameless. They did not know what the meaning of their names was or why their parents had given them that name. They knew nothing about the story of their name.

I believe that explains why they people change their names once they move to another country and why the people in their new country expect them to “localize” their name.

To get the kids’ interest, I told them that in my tradition, the name you are given determines your destiny. You will have the character of the name or the character of the person you are named after. My name is a Hebrew name, which means “little happy song” (in a female form). I think I live up to my name, because I dedicate my life to “singing the happiness song” and teaching others to find their own happiness. It is no coincidence that my life coaching business is called “Be Happy in LIFE”.

I am also short…

Read more about how much names mean