Saturday, May 15, 2010

From Fallujah to Olympia

When Gandhi said "[b]e the change you want to see in the world", I almost immediately think of my parents. I think of them because they found a way to do just that, to instill in their children a sense of personal responsibility to the world in which we they live. For my parents specifically, this meant that when I called around 5pm to let them know to cook dinner for one more person because I had taken in a young woman from Australia who was looking for a place to stay, they accepted with no hesitation. This meant that my mother and father placed me into countless uncomfortable situations (culturally, linguistically, religiously, etc.), and I was then asked to learn how to be a fish, and swim. I make the distinction that they never once insisted that I learn how to swim, that I convert to a certain religion or learn a particular language in order to fit in. They only requested that I spend enough time around fish (people of different linguistic, cultural, and religious backgrounds ), that swimming or getting along those who were different from me became a natural way of navigating through the sea.

It was important to me that I share the above metaphor as a means of expressing the truly unique childhood I had. This experience as it has manifested itself today, has networked me into a world of meeting a million new people a day, and I can't imagine a better way to live. As my parents recently decided to sponsor an Iraqi mother and son who will be coming to live in Washington state in the coming months, they have gone above and beyond the requirements of sponsorship and invited these two people into their home. Because my sister and I have both established lives on the opposite side of the country, Bushra and her son Furat will be staying in our rooms when they arrive, hopefully giving them a sense of what it means to have a home and a bit of privacy as they will both have a room to them self. Although I will not have many opportunities to visit them in Olympia, WA because I am only there one month out of the year, this did not keep me from getting to know our guests as soon as possible.

After the art an music session with the children last Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting the newest two members of my family. I don't know what exactly to say other than that they are both absolutely wonderful people to be around. Bushra, with her skillful sense of humor and enthusiastic presence, there's nothing not to love. While much quieter than his mother at first introduction, Furat's calm yet engaging presence has never made we want a little brother more in my life. Sad that I will not get to be there when the two of them arrive, I have no doubt that Bushra and Furat will be one of many new family members to come, as my parents' commitment to taking care of the people and world in which they live in is far from complete.

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