Last Spring, our Table Talk program was filled with Somali women who were enthusiastic about learning to read and write for the first time. Each week, new students joined as word of mouth spread. And each week, our literacy instructors searched for new volunteers to pair with them for personalized lessons.
Early in the semester, Becky (see the blue circle in the picture above) volunteered at Table Talk with her Sunday School class. To her surprise, she quickly got pulled into a literacy lesson with a new student. That first lesson piqued her interest, leading to weekly involvement, as well as a deepening relationship with Ardo. When we finished for the semester, Becky and Ardo formed a mentorship in our Face to Face program. This means that they moved their weekly meetings into Ardo’s home, where they began to grow closer as friends.
This week, Becky received a delightful letter and rose in the mail from Ardo. Read it and absorb the beauty of what this cross-cultural friendship is accomplishing in both of their hearts. It is a profound blessing to see, on the written page, the gentle and thankful words of a literacy student to her new friend and mentor.
“In the future I want to be a kind person just like you and help people the way you helped me…” Wow. Literacy education is not just some charitable enterprise. It’s relational, because every student needs one-on-one, personalized attention. In this sense, teaching literacy aligns with our vision to foster the development of deep friendships across cultural lines.
So many people in our world today talk about refugees—both positively and negatively. But how many are sitting down at their kitchen tables? When we stop talking about a group of people, and instead learn to talk to them, our perspective changes. We learn to listen. We grow. We become bridges between worlds. We become peacemakers.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”