Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inauguration Day 2013/Martin Luther King Day

(You might remember from previous blogs that I am spending the year at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago)
Of my 10 classmates in the Institute of Religious Formation, three are from African Countries.  Today, Martin Luther King Day, we have no class and the school is closed, a good excuse to have a leisurely breakfast after Eucharist.  Four of us were sitting at one table, two Africans and two Americans. Julius from Namibia turned to Bruce, an American, and said, "If you are driving at night in South Africa and you come to a red light NEVER, EVER wait for the green light, use the traffic light as a 4-way STOP sign and drive on.  If you do wait for the light to change you are taking a chance that you will be hijacked, or worse, killed." That started a flow of stories, first from Julius and then from Kayula who is from Zambia, about situations they had themselves been in, witnessed or heard about.  It occurred to me as they related their stories that in the past five months that we have been together we don't often take the opportunity to listen or even ask our eight international students what their life is like at home. They might drop a hint from time to time but are we too polite to ask them to elaborate, or do we simply choose not to take the time to listen to the answer?

Living together, all 11 of us, on the same floor in the residence hall, attending our classes together, eating our meals in the cafeteria, mostly by ourselves, and recreating in the lounge gives us a unique  perspective and, for me personally, a once in a lifetime opportunity to move beyond my comfort zone and become aware of the prejudices I might carry concerning other cultures. The choice is mine:  I can pay more attention to the hints my international friends drop occasionally, or I could take the initiative and inquire about their family, what they do for leisure,  how they celebrate special days, etc

This would make our 10 months at CTU, not only worthwhile academically, but would also push our horizon so much further out than it is at present. Just like the picture above one has to be willing to swim out into the deep unknown in order to experience the exhileration of surfing the big waves.

No comments:

Post a Comment