I grew up in a farmhouse with an “open door policy,” thanks to my mother’s gift of hospitality. Not only employees and delivery drivers but also stranded motorists, Jews and Greeks (who bought my parents’ furs) were invited in for coffee or Dutch soup with homemade bread, depending on the time of day. At least one bedroom was designated a “guest room,” ready at short notice for whoever might need it.
My parents’ openness to others has enabled me to open the door to many cultures without getting on an airplane. Developing friendships with immigrant families from Iran, Sudan and China through the YMCA Host Program and providing space for people from as far away as Russia, India, Spain and South Korea has enriched to my world-view. How else would I know that the division of Sudan into “Christian South” and “Muslim North” is oversimplified? (Our friends were from the border region and despite being Muslims suffered at the hands of the Northern regime.) How else would I overcome Western stereotypes and assumptions about other parts of the world? Despite the potential for misunderstanding and momentary inconvenience, opening the door is a wonderful way to gain understanding of our human family.