Do You Have “Ubuntu”?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of Africa’s great leaders and known as the “conscience of South Africa,” said the following about ubuntu: “Ubuntu […] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say […] ‘Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what […]

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Some Fun Facts on St. Patrick’s Day

– The color originally associated with Patrick was “St. Patrick’s blue,” not green. – The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland, but in the American colonies, when the Irish who were fighting in the British army marched through the streets of New York City in 1762. – The Irish haven’t always been […]

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Facing That Foreign Language

Sometimes there are myths that take root and become really difficult to dispel. One of them is the notion that Americans — and English speakers in general — are simply not capable of learning a foreign language well. Oh, we all know someone who has done it with some degree of success, but most of […]

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A Mexican, a Gringa and Six Children

Imagine you’re a single, white, American woman with a big heart to serve. Imagine you’re a single Mexican man with an equally big heart, and you’ve been designated to meet said American woman at the airport in Mexico as the two of you are destined to work together serving the poor. This is the story […]

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Diary of a Syrian Refugee

When my wife Becky and I were in Europe last summer, we followed the story of a number of the refugees we met in Greece, to Germany, where many of them had loved ones waiting for them. One of these was a young Syrian woman, who is engaged to a young man we befriended in […]

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The Happiest Nation on Earth

The country of Denmark has topped the World Happiness Report every year except one since 2012. While we could debate about what kinds of definitions and metrics are used to measure something as intangible as happiness, it is nonetheless a noteworthy distinction. So what makes Danes so happy? This is one of several questions we put […]

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A Lesson Learned on Bias

Many years ago in Switzerland I had a voice student named Catherine. Catherine taught me something I’ve never forgotten, although it will take me a lifetime to fully put it into practice. A little background: as you may know, Switzerland is composed of three main regions. By far the largest is the German-speaking area in […]

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The New Kurdistan: One Family’s Role

What would make a successful Iraqi geologist and his physicist wife pull up roots from the city they’ve grown up in, learn a new language, and become humanitarians and educators in a foreign culture — within their own country? Today we’re speaking with Youssif Matti, an Aramaic Iraqi, who has been living and working in […]

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Bikers of a Different Stripe

In the fall of last year we began an occasional series on American subcultures. We all know that it is unwise to paint American culture with too broad a brush. And that was proven over and over again as we talked to people from just about as diverse backgrounds as you can get. From the […]

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The (Lost) Land of Civility

I was going through the archives of my first blog (back in the Blogspot days) and came across this post. I’m taking the liberty to repost it because, as is often the case, things that were written years ago can sometimes have just as much if not more relevance in the moment. I’ll let you […]

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