Sometimes we’re called to take a few steps out the door and into the front yard to offer love and hospitality in the neighborhood. And then sometimes we’re called to take a giant leap to a neighborhood on the other side of the world.
For me, setting the table with a cross-cultural friendship looks like going to Russia.
Twenty-five years ago I participated in a cultural exchange program to Irkutsk, Siberia. I never dreamed I would go back, but in just a few weeks, Tony and I, along with our oldest son, Will, will travel to Russia with a group from the YMCA of the Rockies. The inaugural trip is a milestone in the partnership between the YMCA of the Rockies and the Y in Russia. The YMCA of Russia recently completed a small youth and family camp center with dachas in Yaroslavl (dacha means summer home in Russian). Our group will be one of the first to stay in the dachas while we meet with our Russian counterparts and families to lay the foundation for future relationships between the two YMCA organizations.
I’ve been asked to serve as the hostess for the YMCARockies2Russia trip. Mostly because I have a blog where we can update you easily from the road. I’ll kick things off next week with my story — how I traveled during the thawing cold war era to one of the most remote cities in the U.S.S.R. As the countdown continues to the trip, we’ll go around the table and I’ll introduce you to other members of our delegation so you can get to know them and hear their stories, too.
Will you come along with us? We invite you to journey on this exploratory mission where our goals are simple — to increase awareness of Russia’s heritage, culture, and history and to deepen our relationships with our counterparts in Russia. We’d love for you to experience with us as we taste new foods at dinner in family homes, attend a Russian Orthodox service, and get to know the folks at the Y in Russia.
Think of this as a friendship mission! While only a dozen of us will actually get to suffer jet lag, I’m hopeful our experiences will be beneficial beyond the partnership with the Y. That by sharing our journey each of you will experience a renewal for how we can take every opportunity to open our lives and homes to others.
I’ll be posting live updates from Russia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to follow the YMCA of the Rockies, too: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Our group will be using the hashtag #YMCARockies2Russia so you can also keep up with us that way.
What do you think? Will you journey with us Russia?