It was my first day on the job as associate pastor. I enthusiastically unlocked the door to my new office and was taken aback by the writing on the wall. Literally. There was a massive white banner hanging on the wall with a warning, handwritten in giant red letters, that read, “We don’t like change!”
The Italian Alps, near the Agape Ecumenical Center in Prali, Italy. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
I have spent the last week in the beautiful Alps of Italy, at the Agape Ecumenical Center, gathering with an international community to delve into interreligious dialogue. I am the only Canadian and the only Mennonite. But considering how often this happens when I travel abroad, I have stopped being surprised by this.
Reflecting on international students and culture the other day, a colleague commented on how a group of students who had been struggling in classes refused to blame anyone for their failing grades, took responsibility, and made no excuses. He was surprised because U.S. students usually go on and on with excuses, blaming roommates, teachers, the school, society, but not accepting their own part in not meeting the expectations for the class.