Other Cultural Differences

Host families should be prepared to accommodate cultural differences with patience and understanding.

  • Food
    • Frontier Horizon hosted child[ren] come from a myriad of child welfare systems in different regions of the world. Therefore, their diets, preferences and feeding rhythms may vary from your own. However, all Frontier Horizon children are poor, and the children do not eat as well as they could. In Ukrainian foods such as potatoes, cabbage, and soup are common and preferred. Starchy foods are also popular and common in Ukraine. In Latin-American countries rice, beans, corn and tortillas are a mainstay of their daily diet. These things are more likely to be familiar and palatable to the children.
    • Hosted children may not like American food or it may even upset their stomachs. Considering that Ukrainian culture also tends to be very blunt and straightforward, please do not be offended should the children refuse food they are unfamiliar with. Most of the time, children do seem to enjoy pizza, chicken, french fries, and of course… ice cream.
    • When offering food to the hosted child[ren], guardian, or translator please be patient and offer options.
    • In general hosted children will most often grow accustom to the new food options you provide, develop favorites and navigate well through the various new tastes and textures you present to them. Be patient, enjoy the journey and allow this to be one more rich part of your hosting experience.
  • Temperature
    •  During the hot summer months, orphanages do not have the luxury air conditioning. Be prepared for your hosted child[ren] to be cold or uncomfortable while AC is running.
    • In the winter months, particularly in Ukraine, it can be very cold. Many of the kids have become accustom to being cold and may need reminders to bundle up appropriately during the winter program. Please be sure that they are comfortable and have the necessary coats, gloves, blankets, and shoes that they may need.
  • Communication
    • Many Ukrainians are very decisive and can be experienced as stubborn or abrupt compared to normative social interactions in the west. The Russian language uses many harsh tones and commanding phrases. Please note that this is a cultural difference and not a personal infraction. You may notice that some Ukrainians seem to be screaming at each other when speaking in Russian. This is a commonly accepted way of communication in Ukraine. Conversely, children from Nicaragua are more likely to keep their preferences or challenges to themselves for fear of offending. Every culture, not to mention child, is unique. Educating oneself on the nuances of culture and communication that are most familiar to the children you intend to host is a prudent investment of your time.
    • The children who participate in Frontier Horizon’s Hosting Programs come from systems of care that are significantly under resourced. Those in institutionalized care are often cared for by well meaning but oft under educated staff. While many foreign education systems include English learning classes, many of the children we serve are not afforded these luxuries and most do not speak any English at all. If the children do know some English, they often fear that they will use the wrong words or pronounce words incorrectly and thus refrain from attempting to use what little they know. Your kind and patient engagement with them around language can be a rich two way street of discovery that adds great value to the experience of all involved. Your attempts to learn their language will most often make them much more willing to try to learn yours.
    • Once again, Google Translate will become a close and dear friend to those who do not have the luxury of speaking the native tongue of the children they host.
  •  Hygiene
    • Due to limited hot water in the orphanages and the impoverished settings that children served by Frontier Horizon live in, some children may be unfamiliar with hot showers or bathing on a regular basis. These are important things to explain to hosted children.
    • Brushing their teeth twice daily, washing their hands after using the restroom, and washing their hands before eating meals may be unfamiliar routines for them. Please patiently help them engage these helpful activities while they are in your care
    • In many developing countries, plumbing is also very different from the United States. Often children are accustomed to disposing of toilet paper in the trash can instead of in toilets. This is a hard habit for children to break. Please try to explain to children upon arrival to flush all toilet paper, and please be aware that some toilet paper will still end up in your family’s trash can.
    • Ukrainian children tend to wash their undergarments and socks while showering. Please be aware of this.
    • Many children who come to the US and Canada for hosting bring with them head lice. This ailment can create significant challenges if not proactively and promptly engaged. We strongly encourage all host families to be prepared with a high quality head lice mitigation treatment to be used proactively with their hosted children. Having said this, PLEASE be sensitive in the way you engage this very real challenge to ensure children are not left feeling awkward or ostracized.
  • Clothing
    • Because hosted children are arriving directly from a context with very limited provisions, they often come to the host country with only the clothes they are wearing. This is not an exaggeration. Many children visit the United States without bringing a single piece of luggage or even a small bag. If the child[ren] do bring a bag, we encourage all host families to go through the bag with their host child[ren], perhaps by helping them unpack, to be aware of their clothing needs.
    • Children from orphanages often share clothes and thus may not bring any extra clothes with them for the Hosting Program. Frontier Horizon encourages orphanage children, staff, and directors to help children separate clothing to pack for their trips to the United States. However, this rarely happens.
    • Please realize that it is the responsibility of the Host Family to ensure hosted child[ren] are clothed. Clothing provided can be hand-me-downs, purchased from consignment shops, or purchased new. Please feel free to collect clothing from your church, friends, or business. The important thing is to ensure the kids are properly cared for and made to feel valuable.
  • Gifts
    • Because children often arrive with no more than what they are wearing or a small bag of belongings, many families shower the children with gifts the moment they arrive. However, this gives the child the impression that their family is rich and may lead to confusion and bad behavior. PLEASE do not spoil your child. Physically visiting the United States or Canada and staying with a family in a stable home is a positive experience in itself.

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