Stories From the Heart of International House

Before I Came to International House

I have served at International House in a variety of capacities for almost 10 years. In that time I have continually learned. Honestly, I learn something new every time I enter IHouse. 

Genuinely doing life with others is a great teacher.

Before I came to International House…

I only knew how to say hello in one language, now I can say it eight different ways.

I didn’t always take off my shoes when I entered a friend's house.

I had never eaten lamb before.

I didn’t understand that there are 135 different ethnic groups in Burma, each with its own history, culture, and language. I just thought people were “Burmese”.

I didn’t know where Burkina Faso was.

I had never participated in an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

I had never heard the word Halal.

I didn’t understand that the words honor and shame can mean different things to people in different countries.

I didn’t know how difficult it would be to make a doctor appointment when you don’t speak English fluently.

I didn’t know how hard it would be to learn to read English if you are illiterate in your native language.

I had never met someone who had never tasted ice cream.

I didn’t know how confusing it could be for someone to learn to use cleaning products when they don’t speak or read English, and never had running water before.

I didn’t know that public transportation can be very difficult to navigate.

I didn’t know that the average refugee spends 10 years in a refugee camp.

I didn’t realize that half of all refugees are under the age of 18, even though children make up 31% of the world’s population.

I really did not know how much I would have to let go of.

I let go of expectations, schedules, ambitions, and the hardest of all…I had to learn to let go of people. To trust their futures to a good God who will take great care of them.

Sometimes I had to let go of people because they literally left. They returned to their country, they found work in another state, or they found family across the country.

I truly didn’t know how my life would be enriched by volunteering at International House. I thought I came here to help people, but my own life changed from the moment I opened my heart, my home, and my life.

There was a lot I didn’t know.

I am glad I took the chance to learn.

I am eager to see what is next. 

Ann

Posted on Oct 16, 2017