“Eleven women of distinct and unique ethnic backgrounds and cultures move into a house together…” This could sound like the beginning of a joke, but at Maggie’s Place, this is the beginning of a daily reality. I live with, work with, and love 10 women of vastly different backgrounds than myself on a daily basis.
One of us is deaf, another Latina, another from West Africa, and another grew up on a Reservation. One of us spent her summers in Romania, another has never left Arizona. Some of us have graduated college and are debating the merits of furthering our education, others of us never finished high school.
And yet, it works. I have yet to see fights among us based on color or background. I have yet to hear disrespectful comments, or crude jokes. What I have seen is curiosity, understanding, and appreciation. What I have heard is a lot of “Me too!”
Since coming to Maggie’s Place, I have often thought that the world would be a much happier place if everyone experienced a community like this. An intentional community of such apparent difference, that what begins to appear is commonality.
We all have goals we are striving for. We all have fallen and needed a hand up. We all need healing.
We all love tacos.
It is only when this space of solidarity and unity is created that our differences are able to be celebrated and utilized to enhance the community. If we were all exactly the same, my day-to-day life at Maggie’s Place would be incredibly boring. But instead, I ate homemade fajitas on my birthday. Instead, I am (slowly) learning some sign language. Instead, I’m learning how to wear your baby “the Burundi way.” And I am the better for it.
There has been no lightbulb, no “Aha” moment where I have suddenly become a multicultural goddess. It is simply in living with these amazing and amazingly different women that I have realized the beauty in diversity. I have come to believe that this is what our cities, our country, our world needs right now. Not sweeping political reform. Not passionately spoken speeches. But small acts of encounter with people different than ourselves, and small acts of love.
By Keara King, a MissionCorps