Home stays create cultural understanding

Another benefit of WILD has been the cross-cultural understanding that evolves during the delegates’ home stays with families in Eugene.

Rabbi Yitzhak and Shonna Husbands-Hankin hosted deaf delegate Hanan Mohsen Ibrahim Aly from Cairo, Egypt. “We had many meaningful interactions,” says Shonna. “We showed her around, including a painting of a Middle Eastern woman releasing doves for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Later she said, ‘Why do so many people not like the Jews?’ I shrugged and said, ‘We are cousins, the Arabs and the Jews.’ She signed and said, ‘No! We are brothers! Closer than cousins!’ Later, through our new best friend, Google Translate, she said, ‘I gave thanks to Allah for bringing me to your home, to your family.’”

Hanan had stayed with another TBI family for the first week of the conference.

Tom and Patti Zembrosky Barkin have hosted international students and MIUSA delegates for many years. “This year our guest was observing Ramadan and we easily learned and accommodated the tradition. Hanan and I communicated via sign language … Hanan asked a lot of questions about Judaism. I asked about Islam. She asked if Muslims were allowed in temples here (where MIUSA was holding several events.) … Our similarities were apparent to both of us, and we smiled and hugged in agreement.”

Roz Slovic said her family has hosted MIUSA delegates for 14 years. “In August we hosted a woman from Chile who is deaf. Two years ago we hosted a WILD delegate from Ethiopia who is blind. …We like to learn about and from people from different parts of the world and, in fact, have stayed in contact with and visited almost all of the delegates we have hosted.

“None of the delegates we have hosted had ever met someone who is Jewish, so they learned a bit what it means to be Jewish. They learned about our children and we learned about their families. Hosting a woman who is deaf and another who is blind was a new experience for us … we learned different ways of communicating and sharing stories and adventures.”

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