I never thought I was strange. Perhaps the reason it seems so risky to welcome a stranger is that we fail to see that we are one ourselves.
But we are all different – we are strangers. There is no-one like you in the world. You are alone when it comes to being you. Being a stranger and seeing others as strangers it becomes easier to welcome the stranger.
My hometown of Waikerie in South Australia has about 2700 residents. Waikerie Lutheran Primary School is a small community of about 85 students and their staff. Most recently, five Indian families have joined us.
As a school principal, I’m always thinking about ways of improving the education we provide. For our language program, I decided I needed a native speaker to teach the students, combined with the classroom experience of a seasoned teacher.
The plan was hatched: Operation Approach Stranger! If you were out at the shops in Waikerie and had an accent, I would introduce myself, asking native speakers of other languages whether they would like to help ‘teach’ the children with me as my primary language resource.
I also asked an Indian man I had played cricket with whether he knew anyone in the Punjabi community who would teach with me. He said his wife Sharry might consider the opportunity. I signed Sharry up, and through having a lesson each week to plan together, we not only worked on language, but we also found out the differences and similarities between the Sikh and Christian religions.
Our school recently celebrated Holi, the festival of colour, which is celebrated all over India. Holi celebrates love, forgiveness, peace and respect.
Learning with each other sharpens how we live our faith. Our worship and Christian studies have been energised as we grow in love towards one another.
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