WHY INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

I’ve always struggled with whether the work that I do is meaningful enough. The first interview I was offered fresh out of college was at a diamond store, and I was so uncomfortable with that idea (having just recently seen Blood Diamond) that I think I willed the position out of existence. I told myself I had to at least return the call, and sure enough I was never able to get through to an actual person, which came as a great relief to my young conscience.

Finding my way into my career as an ESL teacher, I again wrestled with if the work I was doing was meaningful enough or if I was just arrogantly spreading my language to anyone who would sit still long enough to learn. I ultimately came to the conclusion that, while I didn’t think English was inherently more important than any other language, enabling people to be able to communicate with more people than their first language would allow was a cool thing. Foreign language skills would increase their possibilities professionally, academically, and personally, and I often think with gratitude about the teachers that first taught my husband English. Without them, where would we be today?

It’s only natural that these same questions come up with Borderless Stories, and that’s why today I’m writing this manifesto of sorts. Why does this space exist, and why should I continue to work at keeping it in existence and even growing it?

To start with, I worry from time to time about being misunderstood, having someone stumble onto this site and then reach out to me saying, “Thank you for creating this – it’s SO HARD to love my husband/girlfriend/partner/etc, and I’m so glad to find someone who gets it.” Never ever is our point here to say that’s hard to love someone from another country or culture or that you deserve a gold star for opting in to this adventure. It’s not the challenge of the person that unites us, it’s the unfamiliar territory of working around the differences in culture, language, geography, and legal systems.

When someone shares with me that something I’ve written or a conversation we’ve had on a coaching call makes her feel like she’s not alone or gives her peace of mind or gives her the courage to take a new step, it fills me with the reassurance that we’re on the right track here.

As far as our larger vision, I’ll share a little something that spilled out into my journal one early morning:

“I am grateful for the impact [Borderless Stories] has, which is what drives me to do it every day. On an individual level, I know the importance of support, community, and personal development well. But it goes beyond that. As we transform ourselves, we transform our relationships, and that can break generational patterns and redefine the DNA of our societies and generations to come. As we bump up against people from different countries and cultures than our own, we are confronted by how similar we all are, and it becomes harder and harder to ‘other’ people. It’s the hope we have for peace and understanding in the future – that where there has been ignorance or hatred, there can now be a crack for the light to get in. So that, for example, where we’ve been, God forgive us, indifferent to the suffering of others, potentially imposed by our own governments, instead we’ll have a personal connection, because that’s where caring starts. And it spreads from there. I love to hear someone say, ‘I want to go to [country they’ve never previously felt an interest in]. My [obscure connection]’s husband/wife/partner is from there, and it seems like a cool place.’ May we be ambassadors for our shared humanity, that which connects and unites across borders of all kinds.”

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