This is not about roses . . . well, maybe just a little. This picture of roses was taken in mid-November in front of our residence at CTU in Chicago. One could believe that roses are not a very hardy flower and need a great deal of pampering but these wild roses demonstrate that they are more resilient than one would believe. In my program at CTU (Catholic International Union) in Chicago there are several international students from countries such as Korea, China, Indonesia, Zambia, and Namibia. The Asian students especially have a challenging time because they are still unfamiliar with the English language, the culture such as food, and customs. From the moment I began classes with them in August I admired their determination to fit in, learn the language and follow our classes in the best way they can. But Sunday evening I experienced something that brought home to me in a very real and poignant way what they can be up against. Since no meals were being served in our cafeteria until Monday morning, several of us went out for supper including our Korean student. When it was time to order he was able to tell the waitress what he wanted but then she asked him, "soup or salad?" He did not understand what she meant. We explained it to him so he told her he would have soup. The next question was, "what kind: French Onion, cream of brocoli or Chicken noodle?" By then he was totally confused. So we explained again. He chose the French Onion not knowing at all what he was ordering. Again the question came: "French fries, mashed or sweet potatoe fries? What about a vegetable: corn, beans or carrots?" As the questions kept coming at him it became very evident to us that despite our help and encouragement he was struggling to keep his composure.
It had never occurred to me that for our Korean friend and the other international students that something as simple as eating in a restaurant could be such an ordeal. He and the roses in the picture have something in common, wouldn't you say?