Two amazing men recently arrived in Bergen, Norway as refugees from war-thorn Syria. I met these fine folks by a chance encounter where we exchanged pleasantries and that was that. Then I decided to invite them to our dinner party on New Year’s Eve.
This is what I learned from that experience.
1) We’re all the same at the core
Ibrahim and his friend were seemingly very different from me and my friends around the table. We were in fundamentally different life situations. We looked differently. We spoke different languages. We were some twenty years apart in age.
Despite all that, what really stood out to me was how similar we all were, at the very core of it all. The 9 wonderful people around the table shared the most important thing of all – the real, raw human experience.
We all became friends that evening. Our universal ability to relate to one another, despite being so seemingly very different people, goes to prove my point. We’re all in this life thing together.
2) You and I are borderline disgustingly privileged
Ibrahim had been separated from parts of his family on their way to Europe. They’re stuck in Turkey. He was forced to move on.
Simultaneously, my family enjoys eating turkey in peaceful harmony, together. Without a worry in the world.
His home town is a relic of the past, completely destroyed by bombs falling from the sky. His concept of “home” seems utterly undefined.
Meanwhile, we’re at home having a blissfully happy, bomb-free festive evening with our near and dear ones.
If you’re reading this form some still-existing city, you’re probably somewhat like me. Borderline disgustingly privileged. Don’t forget. Be grateful. And ideally, share whatever you have with others who haven’t.
3) It takes very little to mean very much
I’m not writing any of this to impress you with my overwhelming kindness. Quite the contrary, I want to impress upon you that we can all play a part in the integration game. It doesn’t take an immense effort to make an immense impact on a local level.
Often, the small stuff is the big stuff. Open your door to new friends. Say hello. Share your stories. And be incredibly grateful for the sheer quality of your comparatively petty problems.
That is all. Happy new year.
Also published on Medium.