Showing Up Respectfully:

Crossing Boundaries

“It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


“There were people who went to sleep last night,
Poor and rich and white and black,
but they will never wake again.
And those dead folks would give anything at all
for just five minutes of this weather
or ten minutes of plowing.
So you watch yourself about complaining.
What you’re supposed to do
when you don’t like a thing is change it.
If you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.”

~Maya Angelou

When entering a community or culture different than one’s own, there are many things to consider. Finding a graceful point of entry is important and often elusive. In anticipation of your journey and work, you will experience excitement, apprehension, and anxiety. You may worry about saying or doing something wrong, politically incorrect, or inadvertently offensive. We encourage you to keep your excitement! It’s a part of what you will share with your new friends when you arrive at your destination.

This unit will illustrate many of the dos and don’ts of cross-cultural engagement, and help equip the social justice learning and working traveler with tools that can enhance the joy of the journey.


Opening Meditation

Use your chosen spiritual practice to quiet your mind and get centered.

“Imperfection” by Rachel Guido deVries

Imperfection is the place where the spirit enters,
the small hole in your shirt, the loosening threads
of carpet, the ache in your soul for forgiveness.
Where the camel waits, where the eye strays,
where the hand reaches up, empty of all but breath,
is the place where the soul begins, its gravity mightier
than we may ever know. There, where the rug unravels
like a rope of time, where pockets bleed their secrets
between the seams. In a widow’s eyes words appear
lit up like stars in a deep sky: If God is all we believe,
soul and sorrow and bliss, the soul is stone and lattice,
ligature and air, and it lives in the body’s secret lapses.
How grateful then to know imperfection’s door swinging
open and closed, how good to be humbled.

Spend a few more minutes in your chosen practice. Then call to mind a time when a mistake in your life ended up with rich learning and growth. Hold this memory as you work through the readings and reflections in this unit.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email