Last month, we saw decreasing participation as Ramadan pulled our new Afghan friends away from the PLACE. The fasts and feasts of Ramadan made it a struggle for them to have the time and energy to attend classes and potluck dinners. Apart from a faithful group of young boys (seen above arm wrestling at Table Talk), we have had few regular visitors. Ramadan ended on May 2, so we anticipate many of these friends to return in the coming weeks.
However, the April silence has brought to light the reality that we have not yet successfully learned to draw in many other ethnic communities. As we’ve wrestled with and thought critically about the last year, we realize that we are still facing the consequences of the separation that COVID-19 brought into our lives. We have lost touch with so many of our friends! Many have fallen out of the habit of attending English classes, or they’ve lost the motivation to pursue education or group programs. We are thankful for the quiet of the last few weeks, because it reminds us that we have a lot to do! While we have responded effectively to the Afghan crisis, this busyness has covered up the fact that we haven’t recovered our relationships from the pandemic.
We are brainstorming as a team and praying for imagination and creativity as we seek to draw our friends from Myanmar, Congo, Sudan, and Somalia back into relationships and into the PLACE. Perhaps many of them aren’t interested in English classes, mentorships, or Table Talk. But what WILL spark their interest so that we can cultivate a multicultural, life-giving community in this space? We’ve discussed holding a women’s exercise class, or a Karen language music concert, or a regular storytelling night.
Additionally, how do we even advertise new programs and events? It’s not exactly easy to get the word out to dispersed immigrant communities! Bear with us as we figure a way through the COVID fog and back into thriving relationships and shared community spaces.