It seems that many people are looking back to the day twelve years ago from today. And I have already heard interesting thoughts all day today. Like often when a tragedy strikes, people are able to remember where exactly they were when they heard the News.
So, where was I? Twelve years ago, it was my fifth day of an exchange Seminar between a german centre for political and social education and a College in Burlington, Vermont. We were welcomed with a friendliness and generorisity I have hardly ever experienced before.
The very moment, when one of our group came running to me, telling me I had to come look at the TV Screen in the B&B breakfast room, I had just sent off an email to a dear friend, telling her how great it is and how happy I am to be in Vermont. So we ran to the TV and followed the unspeakably horrible News, then ran to the college-hall, where obviously everyone from the Campus was staring at the Screen. Only then I learned how many of the students there had parents who worked in the building.
There were teachers and college staff Walking around and checking on students, and in the middle of all this incredible chaos, These News, this fear, they somehow even managed to reserve a phone for us 20 german guests to phone home for a sec to say we are ok to our families. But what I remember just as much as these impressions of planes crashing into theTwin Towers and people jumping off it… were the days which followed.
The schedule of our Exchange Seminar had both New York and Washington picked out. For the most obvious reasons we cancelled these plans quite soon …but what then? We were invited to stay at St. Michael’s College, but the B&B was overbooked. Where to put 20 people? Within half a day – or so it seems – one of the Exchange committee managed to come up with 2 students plus several host families for the upcoming Weekend, who invited us to stay over.
Just to stress again the Dimension of it: There was this wonderful familiy, being shaken by the News of their Country being attacked, being completely unaware of what might come like everyone at this time, opening their houses (and hearts!!!!!) to two strangers from Germany.
When our amazing host mum picked us up on the Campus, she said that she feels, now it’s even more important to open your heart and show friendliness towards people so that the good wins.
Not only did she pick us up and take us to the family’s beautiful home on Grand Isle, VT, but the whole Family also made us feel home the very second we arrived. We prepared dinner together, we took a walk, we even met up with another Family, who also hosted one of our group….not to speak of the world-best pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast. On Sunday, the Family treated us to a daytrip around northern Vermont, a mountain hike, a coffee at “Trapps’s” in Stowe…oh, and an absolutely funny summerslide.
I hope that I will have the chance to do a similar thing one day, too. until then, I am doing my best to remind myself that things like supporting people close to your heart or even not so Close, by friendliness and compassion in everyday life, e.g. letting a hilariously slow vehicle “enter” the Highway ^^ (it does take a Little Patience, I tell ya ^^), helping an old Lady from the neighbourhood find her Shopping bag on the street, baking a cake for someone who has lots on his or her mind, writing a “thinking of you” postcard, not getting into an argument about a parking spot with an angry stranger… (add some ideas to the list) just to let “the good win”,to put a smile on somebody else’s face.