Sunday, August 20, 2017

Opening ourselves to innovative opportunities

Joyce Sasse - Innovative contributions which recent immigrants can offer us are often left unrecognized by rural communities.  We hit roadblocks when we ask “What do we have to do for them?”, instead of asking “What do they have to offer us?”

Several years ago a Saskatchewan Mennonite congregation invited a group of immigrants, known to them through urban counterparts, to spend a day or two in their small community. It took focused effort to plan the particulars for visitors on shift-work, who required transportation as well as accommodation. But I recall hearing many accolades about the venture being memorable.

It makes me wonder how many of our newcomers have a rural background or enjoyed going to the country-side for holidays and special occasions. Does our habitual way of thinking that they won’t like small-town life reveal more about the urban biases of our bureaucrats than about those they are trying to place?

People from cultures radically different than ours have much to offer in our world where we are constantly needing to accommodate ourselves to change.

When threatened with weather that is dryer and hotter, for example, might Middle Eastern folks be able to show us alternative methods of agriculture, or ways to survive without demanding more air-conditioning and sophisticated technology?

While having an African pastor serve our community for a number of months, our horizon was broadened. His family were landowners and they were very aware of drought threatening certain parts of their country. The insights he shared as we tried to help him adapt to our culture gave us food for thought.

Think of the great contributions the Ukrainian immigrants made in the 1890’s when they were settled in the West, because they knew how to farm in Parkland spaces.

Given a chance, our newest settlers can indeed help us see possibilities with fresh clarity.

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