Sponsor a Child – Where Language Meets Giving Back

So, last week my son gave me a rather pleasant surprise…

He decided he wanted to sponsor a child!

We hear a lot about this on television and think: “That would be a nice thing to do.” However, more often than not, if you’re a busy parent, like most, we end up letting this moment slip by and slowly forget about the idea of sponsoring a child somewhere.

teacher-with-student_zps1hrqcsmsNext time you have the idea, don’t just let it go, hold on to it and make a difference in someone’s life. Coming from my soon-to-be four-year-old son, this turned out to be an amazing experience even for me. It also got me thinking about the benefits something like sponsoring a child in another region of the globe could provide my son as he grows up.

We scoured through the websites of many reputable companies that facilitate the process of sponsoring a child. Finally, we came to the consensus that we’d sponsor a child in Taiwan. And, according to the company, we will be able to write letters to the child and also receive them!

That got me thinking about how good it will be when my son is able to write his letters in Chinese characters. Think about it…it’s like taking the concept of a pen-pal to a whole new level.

This new friendship could help my son find for himself a sense of responsibility and what it means to be a global citizen.

We started on this journey with the goal of helping him become bilingual and reach his potential. And yet, learning a new language is nothing more than one of the opportunities for growth in this process.

In a world where so many people are driven by hate and prejudice, we all want our children to grow up and be well-adjusted and, most importantly, feel loved!

After all, we don’t want our children to merely be“language consumers”. The goal of this endeavor (and it is the biggest challenge I have ever taken on) is to raise children who are worldly and can appreciate other people’s cultures and struggles.

My son, for example, is learning Chinese. But, what would be the point of it all, if he had no interest in the culture behind that language and, more importantly, the people behind that language? Like, how do they live? What do they eat for breakfast? Do they even eat breakfast?

The point is, our world is full of interesting stories and at the center of each of those stories is a different person.

Now, let’s reel back a little to the sponsorship talk. If you and your child liked the idea and wanted to do something similar, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure everyone can get the best out of this opportunity.

If you choose to sponsor a child somewhere in the world, consider selecting a child who speaks your son’s (or daughter’s) target language.

teacher-with-student_zps1hrqcsms I’m sure your kids have gotten plenty of people to talk to in the target language in between day cares, classes, and babysitters. However, a “pen-pal” relationship with the child you’re sponsoring can add a whole new level of immersion into the mix. Your child will be talking to a new friend who lives and breathes that culture and language every day. The same goes for the sponsored child. They get to learn about our children’s lives and how things are on this side of the globe. It can be a great language reinforcement and help bring that language to life!

Going along these lines, make the most of your child’s newfound interest in the new culture. Try to find ways to sharenews about other countries. Talk to your child about what might be going on in the country or countries where the target language is spoken (China in my son’s case). Always age appropriate, of course, but just give them a glimpse into the world around them. And, I’m sure you’ll learn a bit too in the process!

Did this spur your interest in sponsoring a child? Let us know with a comment! And, as always, don’t forget to check out our Facebook page @our21stcenturykids for more news.

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