My very awesome friend and co-organizer/leader of AJCW experienced something wonderful recently and I pleaded that she share it with you. This was, after all, one of the main reasons we instigated AJCW and it was so pleasing to hear it coming fruition. She writes:
The coolest thing happened the other day in Little’s Art class. I was sitting at a table with a few six(ish) year old girls. I love listening to the conversations that come up among the young people, often informative, always entertaining. I love their ability to speak their mind honestly, without any ill intentions, a skill I try to emulate.
This conversation was particularly insightful, for me anyway. There were 3 or 4 girls seated at an art table. One of them started singing, which of course made me happy right away. Her friend asked her what it was. She explained she was singing in Arabic. She learns Arabic at her religious school. She then went on to talk about all the holidays she and her family celebrate as Muslims. Her friend responded by explaining that she learns Hebrew at her religious school, and talked about holidays her family celebrate as Jews. A third girl talked about how she didn’t know any other languages, but shared some of the celebrations she and her family enjoy as Christians. This topic went on for a little while, each girl very proud of their own family traditions. At the time I was just struck with how much confidence each child had in explaining what was important to them, and how they all listened to each other. Their differences were something they embraced, and they really enjoyed hearing about each other’s experiences.
Many hours later, after the excitement of the day wore off, I sat in relative quiet and had some time to reflect on the day. That conversation completely stood out to me as the biggest highlight. So often as a parent I talk to my kids about diversity, respecting others for who they are. I have tried to live by example, although I am sure I am not always successful! Ask my son what I think about people who choose a different path from ours (religion, school, etc) and he will tell you the mantra that I try to live by. People all live different lives, not better or worse, just different. We can learn something from everyone. But how often have I seen this in practice, really? These kids and their table talk have given me such hope and excitement. When we started AJCW, we really wanted a place where everyone was not just welcome, but embraced. Here we are just 5 weeks in, and the proof was right there in front of me. Amazing! I couldn’t be more pleased. Maybe we can have a small impact, by creating an environment that allows everyone to be who they are, and embrace others. I am so excited for the future, and thankful for the opportunity to watch these kids learn and grow.