Certainly, by now, you know that you have some gifts that you could share with the world. And for those of you that can’t think of anything you could share, get over yourself and dig deep. Look at the world around you and find a person, place or thing that could use some help and go lend a hand. I look at helping others as the rent that I pay for my time on Earth.
Recently I have been volunteering at the local university in the country I am now residing in which is Poland…and let me say if you don’t know this already, I do not speak the language. The US State Department funds a program called the American Corner around the globe in conjunction with educational facilities. Feeling very blessed in my life, I felt it is the least I could do, and I get to meet people from around the globe who just want to speak English better or meet their first American.
I participate in a workshop called, Conversation Club, that meets once a week and is meant for foreigners that want to improve their English. Pretty much we sit in a circle and begin talking about a specific subject. The idea being is to get each participant to speak, which quite honestly can be challenging depending on the topic. People get all stuck in their heads about their English isn’t good enough, so why open my mouth. Where does that kind of thinking show up in your life?
Through my participation I have also facilitated a program for high school students that are studying English. That was a blast. But for me, it is all about the interaction and connection that I can help facilitate. The high school students were all from Poland and stared at me starry eyed that I had lived in San Diego, a place they dream of seeing someday.
Poland is mainly a Catholic country and has a mostly white population. They government has been declining the entrance of refugees, even though it is mandatory through the European Union. The people that come to the American Corner are from all different races, religions and ethnicities and I might add are from all ages.
The American Corner is free to the public and provides a small library and offers workshops and programs such as the one I attend. Each meeting different people show up, so it is really a mixed bag. Being held in the local university many of those that attend are students from around the world.
It is interesting to have Russians sitting next to Poles or Ukrainians. The history between these countries has been horrific at best and the wounds are still there. I have to say that I was a little nervous about being a room with strangers from opposing countries that are still at odds and at war. And even though this gathering is about getting more comfortable speaking English, I have found it to be an opportunity to have true dialog with people you might not otherwise be in contact with. The Conversation Club is truly about connection.
It is tremendously eye opening, not only for me but I hope for the participants as well. On one such evening we went around the room talking about what they will do and where they would like to live after they graduate or retire. A Ukrainian student spoke up saying that he can not return to his home because it was just destroyed by the Russians last week and his family, some that were killed and others that fled, have no where to live. A young Russian student was sitting straight across from him and their eyes met.
The conversation that pursued was fascinating and you could see how words get misconstrued and how communication gets altered. To keep the conversation friendly, I began to ask others about their homeland and the conflicts that arise. The participants from Turkey, Syria, and Azerbaijan all spoke up about the recent conflicts in their countries.
We were able to talk about problems and possible solutions, as well as the deep seeded conflicts of these different regions around the globe. You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child?” It’s about people coming together, of all ages. The attendees were not mad at each other, they just wanted to understand why it was necessary to hurt one another or to take away what they had and then destroy it.
How do we then, each of us, place kindness toward one another? How can we put the past aside? Can we learn to trust, after all the desecration? Have we learned anything from history? It seems to me that it just keeps on repeating itself. It’s the bully in the sand box that wants it all. How can we bring up children to be accepting of one another? What role as parents and grand parents can we play a larger part in? The participants at the American Corner wanted to understand one another. How can we get that to play out, outside the doors of this program?
What fears or misunderstandings do you harbor against another race, religion or culture? What will it take to put down your fist and open your hand? Maybe just by volunteering and serving others that are less fortunate, you could begin to see that people are the same everywhere. We all want love, happiness and fulfilment. Our past should not define us. Be the change the wish to see in the world. You might just be surprised who will become your next best friend.
With Love and Gratitude,
P.S. What kind of volunteer work do you or want to do? Make a pact to be a change agent this coming year. Use your gifts to help make the world a better place. Share this with a friend and go volunteer together. The world needs people like you to lend a hand.
Set an intention of doing something different this year. What kind of person do you want to show up as? What will you choose to do different? Sign up for my FREE How To Set An Intention self-paced program. Be the Change Agent that the world needs.