By Dan Koop Liechty, director of alumni engagement and international student adviser
This week’s theme: Deep in the changing sky: Called to deep wisdom
This week’s theme is “Deep in the changing sky: Called to deep wisdom.” It was with no small amount of trepidation that I agreed to write on this theme because to be honest, I do not feel deeply wise on even my best days. Having said that, I will share with you what I have been thinking about a lot, in light of our increasingly and disturbingly divided community, country and world.
One of my roles at GC is working with international students. It’s something about which I feel immensely passionate. There are so many reasons to love the work, but I have become more and more convinced that cultural exchanges, like meeting students from around the world, are an absolutely necessary part of the solution to our divisions.
Jesus admonishes us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and even our enemies (Luke 6:27). Loving our neighbors can sometimes be a challenge, but loving our enemies is beyond most people’s comprehension. When we think about our espoused national enemies, they are often from places about which we know almost nothing. However, if you have had a chance to travel to one of those countries or meet someone from there, you will soon realize that the people there are so much like us, have the same desires for peace and prosperity and they will often show you amazing hospitality.
I have had the privilege to travel and live abroad, which I consider among my greatest earthly treasures, but I also have the privilege to welcome students from all over the world to our campus and local community. These students, sometimes from countries we list as enemies, bring to us a human face for their homelands. They enrich our community and in return are enriched by their interactions with us. They will go back to their countries with stories of real Americans and not the stereotypes that are presented through our media and pop culture. We will also be able to say that we have friends from the countries we read about and that they were wonderful people with hopes and dreams just like ours.
I continually challenge myself to better understand my neighbor and I work as hard as I can to not have enemies. I encourage us all to reach out to those in our communities who are different and try to better understand them and if you get a chance to live or study abroad, jump at it. You will never regret it and your life will never be the same again!