I have to admit to being a little nervous. After all, this is my first blog, and with so many veteran bloggers out there, I worry that I might pale by comparison. At the same time, I know that I’ve experienced much of what you are experiencing now: adapting to life in a new country, learning the local language, and being immersed in a culture very different from your own. Because we share these things, I hope my talking about them will make you feel at home with me.
I was reminded of what this feels like as I sat among young wives at a recent conversation group for non-native English learners. These women have followed their husbands to the US, and while the men are pursuing their educational or occupational goals, the women are left to navigate everything that goes into a life in a language not their own. Because I know how daunting this is, I was touched by the courage that surrounded me as I heard what our group would like to discuss in the coming weeks: How do we handle medical and car insurance? What words and gestures are taboo in American culture? What clothes do you need to survive a Michigan winter? How do you make S’mores?
The eager faces and nervous smiles turned to laughter as the women realized that, although between them they represented five nationalities, they shared the same concerns and questions. In under two hours they had established a community with a common cause that will now go forward in friendship. It is my sincere hope that you and I can do the same; recognize that we are part of the same community, and continue down the path of learning together in friendship.
All my best,