Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Different is good

We live in a great neighborhood. It's not really even a neighborhood--just a quiet street of houses, filled with nice people (with the exception of the TOTAL punk that lives across the street, but he's moving).

One of the things I like about living here the most is that for a street with 25 houses, we have a surprisingly diverse population. We have a Hispanic family, an African American family, and several Indian families. It is incredibly important to both me and Matt that our kids grow up not just knowing that not everyone looks like them, and not even just not caring, but actually valuing it. Living here has helped.

Our next door neighbors are a precious Indian couple who had their first baby about 8 months ago. Since we first met them, they have known our names, and the kids' names. I am ashamed to say we have no idea what their names are, and it has now gone way beyond the point where we can ask. They delight in our kids and lavish attention on them when we run into each other outside. Abby adores them, and even asked one time if she could have a dot on her forehead like the lady next door. We always chat in the driveways, and we went over with a gift when their son was born.

At any rate, they have been gone to India to see their families for the last several months. Tonight, they brought over gifts they brought back for us. A necklace for me, bracelets for Abby, and a carved sculpture for Matt with his name engraved on it. Keep in mind that we did not do anything for them while they were gone--they stopped mail service and hired someone to take care of their yard.

I am totally overwhelmed. Never in a million years would it have occured to me to bring them presents. I'm sure most of you are the same way. Yet it fits completely with their sweet natures. I cannot imagine living in a country half a world away from your family, not being able to speak your first language, dealing with constant discrimination and stereotyping, and still having the guts to reach out and be kind to your neighbors. It should be noted that of all the American families on the street, we have met two. Take from this what you will, but our next door neighbors have caused me to be more grateful than ever that I don't live in a country where everyone's the same.


Anonymous said...

As a former social studies teacher, I say "Right On!" :)

I had a similar experience myself as a child. We lived in a neighborhood for four years in Little Rock (from ages 4 to 8) where my best playmates were 2 African-American sisters, Nicole and Dionne, an Indian boy named David, and a Filipno boy named Chris (Chris and I shared a mutual obsession with stickers...we had tons of books of them!). I remember going over to David's house and wishing my family had a great big bejeweled elephant statue in our front hallway! And we were all pretty much on the same street.

A diverse population like ours really is unique when you look at the rest of the world. While no country is completely homogenous, nowhere else do you have so many different cultures all in one place.

Enjoy your jewelry! Indian jewelers make beautiful jewelry. Joshua bought me some gorgeous jewlery for our 5th anniversary from an Indian jewelry store in Dallas, and I bought a ring for Lydia's graduation there as well.


Anonymous said...

I've met then also and I too don't know or remember their names. But they are some of the nicest people I've ever met. They are so friendly. Having lived in a foreign country myself it is nice to know you can step right out side your home and be able to speak to the people next door. It's not having any family or friends around that makes you more outgoing and friendly. 99% of people in the world need human contact with someone other than their spouse and or children. It's human nature. And it makes me really proud as a mother to know that my daughter and her family have made these folks feel like they have friends here they can talk to. The folks need human contact more than most because they are not from here.

Is'nt it an amazing country we live in? Not just a country, but a street?