Friday, July 12, 2013

Multicultural Experience --Sort of

How did you hear about the Conference? Do you go to this church?

I heard that question a lot today. I was a guest speaker at a conference and was, for much of the time, the only white person present.

I had a great time. I was speaking to (and re-enacting for) a national youth and young adult group. They have a direct connection to the woman I re-enact and their host church had invited me. They are first and second generation Americans. This group was using English, unlike their parents down the hall.  They also dressed like typical American teens and twenty-somethings and their t-shirts proclaimed American interests. This makes sense. They grew up here. They fit in at their schools and colleges. In some ways this was not an intercultural experience because we all share American culture.

 On the other hand, these young folks enjoy their annual weekend conference when they gather as Christians of their specific ethnicity, so much so that they are resisting attempts to make it biennial.

From the moment I walked in this morning, I was welcomed, even by people who didn't know why I was there. I was greeted, directed to the food line, spoken too by everyone. People were curious about my presence, though. I kinda stood out.

Finally, my contact was located, I was given information and shown to my room. Everyone smiled, everyone was friendly. The youths included me in their worship and games.

I couldn't quite get over a sense of being "other", though. Probably because I was.

I mean, yes, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, yes we all live in the same country,  speak the same language and know the same songs. Still, they were gathered because of ethnicity and I was different. Which is part of what intercultural worship, ministry, and cooperation is about. Being different together.

When I was done speaking I stayed for worship and then excused myself when we got to a long break.

I had enjoyed myself and was grateful for the chance to be part of the celebration.

When have you been involved in an event for another culture?


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