Monday, December 10, 2012

Respecting Diversity

Culture can mean and include many things. Your heritage, traditions and ways of being and doing. It is far more than ethnicity. Each family has their own specific culture which resides within the culture of their local community. Many communities contain multiple cultures.

We are very lucky to have a Family who hail from Bangladesh at our service. Many aspects of their culture have been shared with us, including a number of meals and snacks.

This time it was Henna tattoos that we were privileged to receive. For those not in the know Henna is a plant from which a paste is made. This is applied via what can best be described as a mini piping tube.

When first applied the henna is soft and takes about 30 minutes to dry. During this time it is neccessary to keep the area decorated as motionless as possible to avoid smearing. Once it is dried the excess henna can be brushed or washed off. What remains is the design, but absorbed into the skin. It is only the protein of the plant which the body absorbs so it is quite safe. The tattoo will begin to fade in about 4 days and will last around a week.

The children and staff all loved this experience. Not only did they get to experience the sensation of the henna being applied, but they also compared tattoos with each other. The size, shape, what they looked most like. They were also able to ask our visitors about why they do this and how they get the materials.

There is so much learning potential here, but more importantly it was an opportunity to community members who origniate from another country to come and share a part of their culture with us. The interest has remained too. Drawing on their own hands and arms may be met with some quizzical looks, but it does wash off and the children are exproring this cultural tradition in their own way to broaden their understanding and respect for an alternative way of being and belonging.

If you haven't tried this before then may I suggest you give it a go. And a little tip for you. If you smear baby oil over the tattoo it will become slightly darker and last a few days longer.


  1. I had a student that would come to school with these after certain celebrations. The other students loved looking at the intricate designs.

    So glad you and your class had this opportunity. What a great way to share that family's culture!

    1. Do you know what's even greater Ayn? They have been giving tattoos to each other during dramatic play most days. An outsider might think they are referring to permanent tattoos, but we know better. They even sat in the 'drying' area as they needed to wait for the real things to dry too.