Musings | The Round Table

16 Jun

Sunday evening, I had the opportunity to host two international visitors in my home for dinner. I invited two friends, threw the linens on the table, and awaited the arrival of our guests.

Around 6 o’clock, three all-American girls sat at the dinner table with our two international guests. In one sense, our daily lives as young women could not be more different. Our guests live in an occupied territory where they teach children, some of whom live in refugee camps and all of whom are too familiar with the realities of war. We discussed the difficulties they endure, what our guests are doing to give the children the opportunities all children deserve, and their great hope for peace in their region.

Five girls cannot gather together, however, without the gift of gab, and our conversation moved rapidly from one topic to another. Obama, politics, and global issues. Marriage, fashion, and decorating. Full-time jobs, bad habits, and college studies. As we chatted, we consistently found ourselves noting how similar we are––as communities and as individuals. Several times we proclaimed, “Yes, yes. It’s the same.”

Herein is the power of conversation to strengthen human connections and foster understanding. Keeping abreast of CNN and BBC can only go so far in allotting the understanding of human experiences beyond one’s home country. Being able to sit together and share stories creates a bridge that no engineer can build, one that joins distances far greater than the Atlantic or Pacific. It was through our conversation on Sunday that our guests and we were not only able to better understand each others’ lives but also able to connect through the commonalities we share.

At one point, one of my guests noted how grateful she was to visit the States and meet American individuals, pointing out the importance of creating a dialogue, regardless of topic or opinions. The significance lies in mutual understanding and the realization that we truly are all the same. Across countries and continents, cultures and languages, we all have the same desires for peace, love, and happiness. It is a matter of getting our ideas on the table for discussion and establishing respect through dialogue.

As a graduate student, I studied the concept of “the other” in early-twentieth century Western literature, art, and film. While such academic pursuits are valuable in deconstructing such dangerous notions, one need not delve into literary theory. One need only to turn off CNN for a while and share dinner and stories with new friends from around the world.

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3 Responses to “Musings | The Round Table”

  1. Julie June 16, 2009 at 9:43 PM #

    I wish I could have been there! I am taking a multi-cultural studies class and the professor has said we need to understand what we share in common before we can appreciate each other's differences. He would love your blog! Maybe I could share it with my class?

  2. Anika June 17, 2009 at 5:47 AM #

    Oh, please do! I wish you had been there, too. You are always invited.

  3. themoderndash June 19, 2009 at 4:26 AM #

    Through the events of the past week, I realize how CNN and similar media can only get you so far.

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