Wednesday, November 29, 2006


When you take up life with someone from another culture, you take on some of their traditions. I live in an Australian-American cultural mix and, though the gap is quite narrow, nevertheless it gives us plenty of scope for enrichment and tolerance. My husband Hal interprets American movies for me. Happy in my ignorance, I didn’t realise I had so many gaps in my understanding. In return, I interpret Australian culture and idiom for him – he has started a list of new phrases. Neither of us realised that Australian language is so idiosyncratic and idiomatic.

How much greater is the gap that Gemma and her team of volunteers have taken on. Although Tanzania is Gemma's adopted country, (see the distinctive African dress she wore on a fundraising trip to USA earlier this year) she acknowledges that she will never be African. She says the School of St Jude could not come about without the partnership of her Tanzanian husband Richard.

Gemma Sisia and Mr Yap at Rotary meeting in USA

The volunteers at School of St Jude report their wonder at encounters with African culture as well as the ceremonies that emerge from the cultural mix in the volunteer accommodation.

It was with great pleasure that I read on Jacky’s blog (see links) about the Thanksgiving Dinner they shared in Arusha.

Thanksgiving chooks for vollies at St Judes

It resonated with my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner, held here in Sydney on our new deck overlooking Australian bushland. Thanksgiving has come into my life through Hal, my American husband. I am sure that he is bemused to celebrate Thanksgiving in summer, with Jacarandas in flower and parrots trilling and singing all around.

I am in awe of those people who seem to be able to reach across wide cultural gaps to give and receive, and to meet the challenges that are involved.

This School of St Jude does more than fight poverty through education, it throws a bridge across a cultural divide and helps us to expand our horizons and live a larger life.

No comments: