There is no better way to
understand ourselves than to immerse ourselves in other cultures. I have that
opportunity annually as a chaperone for my husband’s High School Model United
Nations group when we take them to New York City every March.
This year, our 52 students joined
over 2,500 other students from 60 countries for four days of creating a mock
United Nations at the National High School Model U.N. conference. Beginning
with the opening ceremonies at the New York Midtown Hilton Hotel through the
closing ceremonies in the General Assembly at the “real” United Nations, our
students engaged in debate, compromise, the creation of resolutions (all of which
are sent to the U.N. for consideration), and creating new friendships.
One of the oddities of American culture
was highlighted by one of our students, a Dutch boy whose father is teaching
this year at the Army War College in our town. His dad spoke to our students a
few weeks ago and remarked how strange it was that Americans ask, “How are you?”
but don’t wait for a response!
Sometimes we don’t even both
answering, or if we do answer we find the person who asked is already long
gone. Unlike the Dutch, we frequently don’t listen to the response if there is
one. There is no further inquiring. “How are you?” becomes a substitute for “Hi.”
We don’t have to recite a litany of
issues we’re working on. But something brief and meaningful can be a means to
opening a discussion, to connect with another person. When I’m asked how I’m
doing I often answer, “Blessed and highly favored.” That almost always makes
the person stop and inquire further. Try it sometime – you’ll be surprised!
Give people in your life a little
extra time this week. Receive the gift of time and appreciation others offer to
you. We really are all blessed and highly favored. And, when we say so, there
really can’t be much of a valid argument.