One of the most unexpected positives of moving to Orlando has been the abundance of diverse backgrounds that people come from. In our town in Ohio, the minority percentage of the population was less than 1% so we are now on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This past week, my two youngest sons and I were on a boat ride at Epcot when I overheard something that gave me pause. There was a group of 10 tourists behind us….standard American – large, loud, matching shirts, you get the picture. After the safety warning finished in English, it was repeated again in Spanish. I heard the man behind me half yell “I’ll have a taco and a burrito!!!” in response to hearing the Spanish announcement. In the past I probably would not have even noticed this, but after being around so many different cultures here, it just struck me how absolutely ignorant and rude this guy sounded. Seriously. And it was one of those incidents where you look at someone and think “dude you have no idea how much you are embarrassing yourself.”
There is no doubt that experiencing other cultures can be unnerving at first. When we moved down, I had never experienced frequently just not knowing what others were saying and how isolating it may be. Prior to our move down, I had visited 6 churches in one day to see what each was like. I attended one Mass at that congregation was probably 80% African American. For a Catholic mass, that service was probably one of the most overtly devotional congregations I have ever been to. I was so glad I decided to stay for Mass rather than leave just because I felt I might not fit in there. And that speaks to the heart of my Epcot ride experience. It pays dividends to have an open mind and embrace others vs pigeonholing people when you simply don’t understand them.
I’ve heard from several people who have moved out of Florida how much they miss the diversity and I completely see it. One of the most profound instances was at my oldest’s sons school when they completed a prayer service to Mary…..four decades of the rosary were said in English. The last decade had children at his school say a Holy Mary in German, French, Spanish, and other languages. I was blown away by the beauty of the children speaking languages that were not spoken at school and how it added to the inclusiveness of the prayers. The best thing we can do as parents is continue to let our kids flourish and find joy and knowledge in others differences. A blog I recently read mentioned how “kids don’t know color, they just know love” and there is no greater truth than that!
Have a wonderful week and keep on smiling! 🙂