In today’s society we grow up sharing our country with many other cultures. There are so many things we can learn to share with each other if we just open up our hearts and minds to these different concepts and ways of life.
When I was a child of around 10 or 11 years old we had a 40 year old man named Salem come for a visit from Africa. It was a cold January week in which we had approximately 3 feet of snow fall.
My brothers and I were rushing about to get our outfits on to go play in the snow. Salem watched us with wonder.
“What is it that you go out to do with the snow, my children?” he asked in his broken English.
“We make snow forts, have snowball fights, ride down hills on our sleds, skate on the ice rink we made in the backyard, make snow angels. It is so much fun! Do you not have snow where you come from?” I asked him with amazement.
“I have never seen snow except on the television. Is it not cold? I see you have five layers of clothes on your person. And it is wet. Will you not freeze before you can have any fun?”
“Oh, we do get cold and wet but we have too much fun to care. Then we come inside, warm up in a hot shower and have hot chocolate and marshmallows.”
My mother came around the corner with a smile on her face.
“Salem, would you like to go out and play with the children? You could have great stories to tell your children back home. I have found some of our old clothes, and a snowsuit just for you.” My mother held out my father’s old black and orange Skidoo suit he had worn years ago up north when he lived on his parents farm.
Salem was nervous about getting cold, yet the excitement showed through his dark eyes as they glanced back and forth from the snowsuit and boots to the great big snowflakes falling around outside the window.
He pulled on his snowsuit awkwardly; tucking his pant legs into the boots with great enthusiasm, becoming more enthralled with the prospect of romping around in the great big yonder.
That day was a day Salem would never forget. We had him out for over 6 hours doing everything we possibly could. When we finally came inside we were soaked from head to toe, teeth chattering, and almost blue from hypothermia.
The rest of that night, Salem delighted us with stories from his homeland. A world we knew nothing about. It was a wonderful time. At the end of the week when Salem had to return home, we felt like we were losing a part of us. We had learned that in so many of the ways we were different, we were still so inherently the same.
In a world full of diversity, where so much can be accomplished, it is sad to see that there is still so many people narrow minded and closed off from the possibilities that we could all share if we would take the time to see each other as all one mankind, to revel in the differences, and not run from the fear of the unknown, or the uncertainty of the situation. If we spent half as much time in getting to know other people and cultures as we do in prejudging or stereotyping, we could maybe see the potential we would have for true peace on earth.