Does buying a vacation home in Mauritius really expose your kids to other cultures?

I just saw the end of a House Hunters International episode on HGTV and heard a justification for buying in a more tropical location that is often used on the show: it is good to expose kids to other cultures. On one hand, there may be some truth to this: the kids may indeed meet people very different from themselves as well as see other social and cultural practices. This exposure might be more significant if the family is living in the the new location full-time, as was the case in this episode as the father had a new job, versus flying to the location a few times a year for vacation.

However, there are some factors that are working against this significant exposure:

1. The family typically buys in a Western-style housing complex. This suggests they may be living more near other internationals or at least near more people with money.

2. The families typically are people of means, those who can afford to purchase a second home or have the kind of jobs that transfer them to foreign locales. This status would particularly stand out in developing countries.

3. At least on the show (which is not a good depiction of reality), the families are not typically shown doing “normal” things in the new society in which they live. No trips to the grocery store or market, hanging out in local eating establishments, or participating in social life with people who look different than themselves. Instead, we typically see shots of them on the beach or at the pool or enjoying their home.

In the end, I’m skeptical about the level of exposure to other cultures. This sounds like wealthier Westerners wanting some diversity on their terms and social standing.

SI cover story on Vick says “You can’t turn away”

The story of Michael Vick seems to bring out the passions of sports fans. For those who love stories of second chances, Vick is a great example – a guy who didn’t play up to his full talent in Atlanta, ran into trouble, but now is playing great and seems to have turned the corner. For those who love dogs or think NFL players (and athletes in general) get too many breaks, Vick is a perfect example: just because he is a possible MVP candidate, Vick gets a free pass for his bad behavior.

The recent cover story in Sports Illustrated explains the situation:

The Vick paradox is simple: You can’t look away from the beauty, and you can’t quite forget the brutality. His game is rivetingly kinetic, and now that Vick’s commitment to football is making itself evident, it’s impossible not to wonder how good he can be. Yet his infamous stewardship of the Bad Newz Kennels created a discomfort that has endured longer than the usual distaste for bad actors. On Thursday, Goodell stopped in Philadelphia and, 14 months after he lifted Vick’s playing ban, spoke of the “message” behind Vick’s rebound, the “lessons” to be learned. “We need our kids to see that kind of success story,” Goodell told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “This young man has turned his life around, and he’s going to contribute.” But Vick’s tale is not that tidy, and it’s far from finished.

For some, Vick might never be able to make up for what he did. But if he proves himself to be a winning and successful NFL quarterback, many will look past his transgressions. And along the way, he is likely to get paid handsomely in salary for his efforts.

More broadly, Vick’s situation raises all sorts of sociological issues: should athletes get a second chance? Should anyone who mistreated dogs in the way he did get a second chance? Can jail time rehabilitate people or are they tainted forever? Can Vick become a hero or role model in the future? If Vick can’t be redeemed in the eyes of most Americans, who can?