A Community Companion: on learning love


A friend of mine is an English-speaking teacher. He loves his job and the people he gets to know there. We hosted a dinner for his students and their friends. Many of them had never stepped foot in, much less been invited to, an American home. I was a little nervous, had had an exhausting day, a runny nose. All the students took their shoes off at the door. My American self kept on the shoes and walked on the rugs where we planned to eat. I have so much to learn that it could paralyze me!

The teacher decided to initiate some story-telling and language practice by asking if any had a funny story about their time in the States. No one responded. He asked then if they had a story of any hard times since coming here, still leaving room for the funny. When they started sharing, there were tears, hands reaching out to pat the back, reaching through boarders millenium-wide.

The room softened. We peaked together over a few walls, a few stereotypes. That’s the power of story, of touch, and of open doors. Eventually we did laugh hysterically, too. We all need that good medicine. All of us.

My heart is bigger now, and now I desire opportunities to know more international students coming to the States to learn. Let it be that they learn from us LOVE.

amberhaines
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13 Comments

laura@life overseas
Reply October 27, 2010

Isn't it true that rubbing shoulders with the alienated is usually a greater gift to US, than it really probably is to THEM? It's a humbling reality. A humbling, reality.

Thanks for sharing this glimpse into a group, right at home, that people could reach out to . . . .

megan
Reply October 27, 2010

yes, amber, thanks for sharing.
an opportunity,
a blessing for you,
runny nose and all.

Amber
Reply October 27, 2010

Laura, it is humbling and so true.

Megan, I think I had forgotten the runny nose by night's end. We had a good time.

V. Higgins
Reply October 27, 2010

Somehow this girl from Phoenix ended up with the International Students Association my freshman year in college, it was amazing. I learned so much and everyone there was a huge blessing to get to know. And I learned the awesomeness of authentic Dim Sum!

    Amber
    Reply October 27, 2010

    V, I wish I could say that I had made way for international students to be a part of my day in and day out life, but I haven't. I'm watching friends who have intentionality that I so want to emulate. It's a beautiful thing, and I'm grateful that I got to share in it that night.

Seth
Reply October 27, 2010

This was truly a good night. Your interaction was a blessing, not only to the students, but also to me. You are a good woman with good words to spare.

Joy
Reply October 27, 2010

I spent time in the middle east in my teens- to this day I never forget my time there. And I try to reach out to our international community here- it is so huge! But I admit that I have really resisted the uncomfortable lately, forgetting what joy can be found when we peek over the walls of stereotypes...thanks for the solid kick in the pants. (You manage to do that just about every post, but anywhoo.)

(And thanks, V, for giving me a horrible preggie craving for Dim Sum!)

Manda
Reply October 27, 2010

My hearts cry is that I'll love in a way that will reflect Him.
I pray they will learn LOVE from you.

    Amber
    Reply October 27, 2010

    Dear Manda, What's funny is that with every experience I have like this, I'm the one learning love. It's a strange twist, huh?

Megan@SortaCrunchy
Reply October 27, 2010

And this is why His law is love.

joann
Reply October 27, 2010

we grew up with international students in our house, and then in high school I befriended several, I just wanted to...and then one invited me to go back to Germany with her, and I got to do just that! So, I was blessed more than they were I think. Funny how that works.

Stephanie
Reply October 27, 2010

I had a few int'l roommates in college and have been hooked ever since...so much so that I now teach in Asia! I've learned so much about the importance of being taken in and accepted by those in your new country. Great start- keep it up!

(I just found your blog recently and loooove your way with words. Thanks for sharing your gift!)

Elizabeth @claritychaos
Reply October 28, 2010

I love that you are doing this. I traveled to Central America and the Middle East for extended periods of time in college, and being invited into people's homes was so meaningful and powerful. That you do this here is so good. I'm so happy you just reminded me of some times I haven't thought about in a long time.

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