When we moved to S. Africa in 2007, we were all Americans. We brought our American holidays with us, including Independence Day. Now our staff is much more diverse which means we are learning to not make our American holidays a staff wide event. That’s why my announcement at staff meeting was prefaced with, “Don’t feel you have to celebrate our Independence Day, but if you would like to, you’re welcome.” It was a bring your own picnic party, because Americans, well, we’re independent like that.
There was something, however, that made this Independence Day so special. At first it was the little things like when I asked my African friend, Lennon, to make a toasted cheese for someone, he asked, “You mean a grilled cheese?” The proper term here is toasted cheese. No one says grilled cheese, but I thanked him for embracing American culture on our day. But then the greatest impact came when Jeremy asked our African staff if they were coming to the party. Their response? “Of course. We’re family.” It was then that I realized no only is this really happening here with projects and work, but it’s really happening relationally. We’re not just co-workers in this crazy thing called Ten Thousand Homes, but we’re friends.
Friends working together for a cause is much more powerful than a random group of people trying to make a difference.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
So yeah, this Independence Day was great but not because of good food and a fireworks show. It was great, because we’re family and family celebrates with each other.