My Special Lady works at a center for refugees and immigrants here in Louisville. It’s a place that was founded to help them participate in community, find proper healthcare and housing, and develop skills needed to work and thrive in their new home. Participants hail from all over the world–101 countries currently. The most visible part of the center is the youth programs.
The youth summer program is wrapping up and today they held a talent show. I stopped in for a few acts. As a rule, hanging out with them is generally a great idea.
There was lots of dancing. Numerous groups of pre-adolescent girls doing dance routines (often to the same song). A young boy timidly rapping into a microphone as big as his arm; girls doing gymnastics; a boy showing off his basketball skills (with a little help from two older guys trying their best to making him look good). All the while the whole crowd of kids were shouting along with every song and cheering on their friends.
It was a far more entertaining talent show than I’ve ever been a part of. Far more interesting than hearing that awkward Taylor Swift cover 7 times in 90 minutes (your kid does it beautifully, btw). It was so spirited, so warm. But, mostly, it was just different than my experience.
There is a process any young person has to go through when they begin to explore the world. When I first traveled abroad, I looked back at America as a boring, bland place where nothing exciting ever happened. In other worlds I saw cultures that lived differently and more vibrantly and it excited me. I grew cynical about my own world and envied another wherever I went.
As I’ve grown older and traveled farther I’ve learned that I was correct about all of the problems–problems that are often most visible with distance and perspective. But what I have found more recently is the excitement and promise that really is here. It’s a cliché and it shouldn’t be overstated to drown out the struggle of those in need, but opportunity is here. We are great, too. We have a rich, colorful culture to share with the world . And culture is always better when it’s melted into another.
I’m thankful for the experiences that have been shared with me, abroad and at home. I’m thankful for love in the world, and how breathtakingly beautiful human beings can be.
Today, I was so proud to be American. And I’m so happy to share what I can with these people, just as they are aching to share with me.