There’s a new way to Parent Café!
Be Strong Families has been hosting Parent Cafes and teaching others how to host them since we began in 2012. Our original Parent Cafe deck of questions was bilingual, in Spanish and English. As we've evolved, we've worked with communities to translate Be Strong Families Parent Cafes into other languages and to develop Parent Cafe decks specific to cultural needs.
Two examples of cultural adaptation are our new Swahili and Chinese decks.
We began developing the Swahili Parent Cafes when we were part of the Harambee Toto early childhood initiative in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya -- in 2015. That Cafe format is different from our other cafes in that it focuses on storytelling, which is an integral part of Kenyan culture. Each card is designed to facilitate the Cafe Host and Table Hosts in conducting a Cafe on a particular theme. Each card contains the script as well as the questions / topics that will be covered in the small group conversations. We trained the original Cafe team in Kibera, in conjunction with Soweto Forum, a community organizing and housing rights activist group that has been working in the community for 15 years. They currently support 3 Parent Cafés teams who host cafes monthly.
The Chinese deck includes both traditional and Mandarin Chinese. These decks were developed in partnership with Sandy Baba, PhD, and Be Strong Families Board Member, who did her PhD dissertation on Chinese Parent Cafes, Towards a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate and Responsive Family Engagement Model for Low Income Chinese Immigrant Parents in San Francisco: A Qualitative Analysis. Baba worked in San Francisco's Chinatown and North Beach communities launching 35 Chinese Parent Cafes in Cantonese and Mandarin over 7 different Head Start programs. Her goal was to create a Chinese Parent Cafe that would be culturally and linguistically relevant, assist immigrant families with overcoming cultural and language barriers, and connect participating parents with other families in their community. She adapted Be Strong Families' original Parent Cafe deck in an iterative process by field-testing the questions with Chinese parents, family advocates, and administrators, reviewing feedback, and creating new questions that were consistent with Chinese immigrant cultural values and experiences. She then collaborated with Be Strong Families to refine and design the Chinese Parent Cafe deck.
We are currently working on two additional Parent Cafe decks -- one translated into French at the request of New York City partners working with Haitian immigrant parents. Another with Oakland Parents Together (OPT) to create an Arabic-English deck. OPT has had an ongoing weekly Parent Cafe with 35-40 participants for the better part of a decade. These Cafes are building strong relationships among the African American parents in Oakland and their Yemeni immigrant neighbors. Bilquis Alawi, one of OPT's parent leaders, translated the original Parent Cafe deck into Arabic and we are excited about creating some questions to augment that deck that originate in Arabic and will be translated into English. That process will occur this fall and the deck will debut in Spring 2020.
To check out Chinese and Swahili Parent Cafes click here.