New Zealand, El Salvador, China, Laos, Morocco, India, Brazil, and the USA. This is the list of birth places for the attendees of our 4th of July party, and it only scratches the surface of countries represented by our wider group of friends. As I looked around my living room, at a room full of smiling faces enjoying great company (and even better food), I felt damn proud that America brought us all together. This is the essence of the 4th of July.
We relocated to South Florida for my job three years ago with the idea that we would come, enjoy the beach for a couple years, maybe learn Spanish, grow professionally, and give our kids a unique life experience. Boca Super dad and I are terrible planners, so we were perfectly fine with moving here sight unseen. The first time either of us stepped foot in South Florida was the moment we were de-boarding our plane, giant duffle bags, Chihuahua and two kids in hand, heading off to our new temporary apartment in Parkland.
We both grew up in Nevada, in a culture dominated by white, Christian, and western American tradition. I am not complaining about this – it gives us our unique flare and we love that we can bring that to the table. But as anyone with a mono-culture upbringing would understand, we rarely spent quality time with people from different cultures, beliefs, and customs. This, perhaps is the most underutilized, vastly available benefit of living in the United States.
Seek worldly experiences from your own Community
It’s a beautiful fate that we ended up in our Boca Raton neighborhood. We chose this house exclusively because it is zoned for and positioned next to top-rated public schools. Thank god we still love the schools, but A-rated schools are hardly the most attractive selling point to our community.
What is it then? I’ll tell you. This community offers a lifestyle of perpetual new experiences, flavors, perspective, and traditions from all six [inhabited] continents, often through the lens of a first-generation immigrant. The traditions are rooted and appreciated, the food is made authentically and with love, and the people are happy and honored to share their customs and rituals with anyone who is genuinely interested.
Our community is overflowing with people who love where they came from, appreciate the privilege to experience the traditions of their friends, and perhaps most importantly, are at home in the here and now, basking in a little world where backgrounds and traditions collide beautifully. In the past couple years, we’ve been honored to celebrate (the very lengthy) rituals of Jewish Passover, trade red envelopes at Chinese New Year, gather around the table for a traditional Laotian Larb, host a legit tamalada, attend a traditional English Christmas lunch, chow down on the most immaculately hand-made Salvadorian papusas, attend parties where everyone was speaking Spanish, host an Easter brunch for kids who were coloring eggs for the first time, eat the best damn Indian food in South Florida from the kitchen of our spicy friend and neighbor, enjoy the world’s best cold soup from the family recipe of a dear Bulgarian friend, and so much more. Our community is America and everything it stands for.
Boca Super Dad and I started our family very young and spent much of our 20’s, and now early 30’s getting our lives off the ground, working and raising three small kids. With these factors in play, we haven’t even scratched the surface on traveling the world. Those days are coming soon. But meanwhile, I’ll take what we have: the ability to travel the world through tradition, culture, food, and fun, all within a 5 mile radius of our own home.
Thank you to our South Florida Framily. We’ve gained so much by sharing our time with you.
How about you: Are you taking advantage of the unique opportunity we have in South Florida to learn and grow from the people around you? What interesting cultural experiences have you been privileged to experience in South Florida? Please share in the comments!
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Photo Credit: Ron De Oliveira and Carlos Smith