Something that I am very passionate about is the connection different cultural groups have with each other. I love the idea of there being a diversity of people mixing with each other, sharing and celebrating their differences.
Recently we started a Conversational English Café at the church. I have really enjoyed being able to connect with people from a different country. They are beautiful people and getting to know them has already been a huge blessing to me.
As I have gotten to know them, I realise the richness of their lives that they have been torn away from and my heart breaks. As they try and settle in a new country it is hard for them. The language, the customs, the food and even the clothes are all different. For many of them, this is not the first country that they have had to arrive at. For many, they have spent many years in another country before arriving in Australia. Such upheaval, such uncertainty, such loss.
I still can’t imagine what their lives must have looked like fleeing from a country that they love. Escaping a life that was being ripped apart by war. About the only reference point for me is what I have seen movies and I know that doesn’t even come close.
I look into their eyes and wonder at what they have seen. What have these people felt and what have they experienced. I want to feel empathy but how can you when it is beyond your comprehension? I don’t know that I can feel empathy but I can feel compassion. I have a gut-wrenching desire to see them enjoy their lives here in Australia. To find a place on this planet which is safe, secure and joyful. To see them able to get along and experience the beauty of this country.
What can a person like me to do to help that to happen? I can give them my time. I can allow them to make use of my “Australian-ness”. Allow them to learn what they need from me so that they can blossom here.
Am I being selfless? Not at all. As I am able to spend time with them, I am receiving far more than they know. I enjoy their differences. The beauty of their language and their hearts. I also enjoy our similarities, our shared humanness. What beautiful people to be privileged to get to know. As well as getting to enjoy a more traditional Arabic coffee!
My only hope is that they get just as much out of our times together as I do.