When we lived in Atlanta, my oldest daughter attended International Community School, a public charter serving the local refugee and immigrant community. About half of the students were refugees or immigrants, and for kindergarten and first grade, it was an extraordinary place to be. In the face of the refugee ban and travel restrictions, the neighborhood flooded the school entrance with signs of support and love. It started with a lone sign and they quickly multiplied, with friends and strangers rushing to assure the kids and their families that they belong, that they are loved.
It can be easy to forget that “refugees” or “immigrants” refers to individuals, to families, that are just like us, but born in a different place. The school’s neighbors went out of their way to recognize that to the school community immigration and refugee policies are not just policy, but affect people’s lives. And they made a statement that they consider these refugees and immigrants to be part of the community, not separate from it.
Here’s the CNN story with a few more details (and the school Facebook account has more photos of the inspiring signs).
I’m thinking about how to show kindness to strangers in troubled times, to recognize their humanity and acknowledge their struggle. What do you think?
I experienced a rare kindness at the grocery store this week. I had the baby strapped to me as usual and as I hoisted things from the cart to the conveyor belt, the woman behind me asked if she could help me. She said she remembered how it was to do things like that weighed down by a baby. I was almost done anyway, and politely thanked her, but for the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m forced to conclude that I am not terribly open to receiving kindness. A big part of this is that I loathe imposing on others, so I hate asking for help unless it’s absolutely necessary. And I’ve been told I project the impression that I simply don’t need help, so honestly, I don’t think it’s offered much. But even when it is, accepting it is very difficult for me, almost repellent. Part of that is the feeling that I’m imposing, and part of it is exposing weakness, that I can’t do everything myself. I also feel obligated to do things by myself as long as I’m able, even if it’s more difficult alone. At the same time, I appreciate opportunities to be kind to others, which I’m denying to other people with my resistance to accepting.
I don’t have a profound conclusion here; it’s just something I’m musing on.