I’ve never prefaced one of my blog posts before, but because this one has two starkly different sides, I figured that it would at least help. There are two parts to this post. The first is a more serious post about visiting the most diverse place I’ve ever been. The second part is more or less a rant about the struggle to teaching unwilling students.
Diversity brings perspective and challenges people to understand ideas differently. It is through our common differences that we can grow and learn to undersand one another in efforts to establish common bonds. Diversity is fundamental in understanding the global community, and moreover, it is the key to unlocking our understanding of ourselves. Without diversity, there can be no progress to a more just and compassionate world.
This Sunday two other students decided to go to the Shanghai Community Fellowship, a nondenominational Christian church, and I decided to join them. Knowing that this form of religious service does not necessarily mix with my spirituality, I decided to join nonetheless. Walking off the metro stop we were greeted by an largely Westernized area, a steady flow of unplanned for rain, a brief walk towards the church. The cooling shock of the rain assured me that these next few hours were surely going to have the same effect. As we rounded the gates into the church courtyard, smiling faces and gentle “Hellos” greeted us from a large huddled group of people under the awning, seeking shelter from the rain. Africans, Brazilians, Australians, Americans, Europeans, people from every inhabited continent were all gathered together in this one place, in total, over 60 nationalities were represented. While the service had little effect on me, hearing English being spoken in such a variety of accents, now that was a spiritual experience. There was something profound hearing the unity in that collective global voice. In a way, I believe this is what peace will one day sound like–people from every walk of life collectively understanding one another.
In this place where I’d estimate at least 200-300 people were gathered, I felt the desire to want to share in their experience. To get to know them. To understand what brought them to Shanghai. Where they expats? Exchange students? Traveling families? Running from something? Hiding something? In way it really didn’t matter, they were just simply there. There to just be accepted. This is diversity–understanding the differences that make us individually unique, but ultimately accepting others for who they are fully.
* * * * *
I’ve done a good bit of teaching since I’ve been here–3 nine year-olds, an adult “language-partner”, and some fellow exchange students–but none have been as engaging as this third grade class I taught on Saturday. Overall, the experience was enjoyable and I learned a great deal (mainly that I could NEVER do that day in and day out). I’d again like to stress that the experience really was enjoyable, because the video below only reflects of the craziness of the students. I really was crazy.
[Once I can crack through what seems to be a reenforced Great Firewall of China, this is where the Youtube Video will be.]