Yesterday I got to spend the day with some friends whom I never thought I’d see again. Last May I went with a team from the Baylor Nursing School to visit our partner school in Nam Dinh, Vietnam. While there, I learned about the new masters program that is being developed at the Nam Dinh University of Nursing. It is the first nursing masters program in the country, and the students who graduate from it will radically change the health care of Vietnam. Some of our faculty went over there during the summer to teach the first class of students going through the program. When our team arrived, we got to spend an evening having dinner with these students. We ate, drank and laughed as we sang nursery rhymes to each other from our two different countries. The night ended with happy, sad goodbyes and that was that.
However, it was many of those same students who came to visit our nursing school here in the States this past week. Yesterday was their last day and we took them out to the mall to get in some last minute shopping before hopping on the plane back to Asia. I got to spend some time talking to many of them throughout the day. What surprised me most about our interactions was the ease with which they occurred, even despite the language barrier. They were very curious about me and my culture, and I was equally curious about them and their culture. Each of us extended respect to one another by investigating each new curiosity as it arose. No assumptions were left to stand. Questions were posed, thoughts expressed and connections made. Before I knew it, any potential barrier had been broken and our conversation felt like any other conversation I would have with my peers. Yet, these people are from half way around the world. They come from a different culture, language, generation, gender, financial status, political system, religion, and level of education. It’s amazing that curiosity can, not disregard these differences, but prevent them from being an hindrance. I discovered that curiosity leads to human to human interaction.
It isn’t that difficult to be curious about someone from a different country. Everything about them is new and intriguing. But what about the people seen on a day to day basis? I subconsciously assume that I’ve heard every version of an American’s story, so the people around me are, therefore, just the fixtures of society. There’s no time to be interested in them all. While that may be true, what if I became consciously curious about some of them and extended to them the same respect that I extended to my fiends from Vietnam? The respect of investigating my curiosity with no assumptions of age, gender, education, politics, religion, financial status, or culture left to stand. I know I would discover God in a deeper way because, regardless of what comes from my interaction with others, I will learn something about them and, in doing so, learn something more about God’s creation. God created this vast earth and filled it with billions of little worlds. Each person has their own little world that is waiting to be discovered by other people. Each exploration of one person into another person’s world creates this totally unique relationship that exists between those two people alone, regardless of whether it lasts for ten minutes or ten decades. This is how God chooses to romance me. The great diversity of the people He knit together ensures a never ending adventure of exploration. He will always be weaving me into new unique relationships and I love it. However, I must remember to be aware of those “fixtures of society” because there are many curious things God built into them as well.