Not long ago I ran a boarding home which, by design, became a magnet for cultural diversity, attracting tenants from around the world.

My kitchen became a hub of story-sharing, culinary aromas and delights (often shared with whomever was present), questions, answers, cultural faux pas and learnings, and plenty of laughter.

A tenant had been working far from family for a new job and his family came and surprised him! What a joy to see them together and we celebrated with fabulous Nigerian stew and fufu
Lazarus teaching me Nigerian greetings
Tenant playing an extraordinary piece on cello after dinner 

We had a lot of impromptu shared meals in my home, which often become the highlight of my day. The diversity of cultures, religions, languages, ages, races, experiences, goals, genders, and journeys made for the most fascinating conversations.

When setting the table, I loved that I had to ask in all seriousness, “Will you be using chopsticks or a fork tonight?” (I never guessed correctly) or “No, there’s no pork in this dish” for my Muslim friends or “This punch has no alcohol” for my Mormon housemate. Often, I’d arrive home from work to find a plate of steaming pad thai waiting for me on the table or a scoop of spicy Indian deliciousness in the fridge.

Eritrean injera with beef tibsi and cabbage-carrot-potato gumbo
Beef stir fry and Cukes
Mango with sweet sticky rice. My favorite dessert!
Creator of this delectable feast 🥢

We had monthly house potlucks where everyone would bring a dish of their choice but typically from their home country. They were some of the best meals ever! I learned that I love eating with my hands as is often done in Thailand: take a thinly sliced piece of meat, scoop up a ball of sticky rice and use it to claim a bite-size slice of thinly cut beef, dip in spicy sauce. Of course we’d use coconut oil to keep the sticky rice from sticking to our fingers. Pair the spicy sauce with pickled onions and a slice of raw cabbage or mustard leaf to cut the bite and there you have it!

Homemade pad Thai, served on a banana leaf, garnished with green onions and lime; mango margarita to wash it down

What stories do you have from a positive or humorous cross cultural exchange? Share in the Comments. I look forward to reading them!

Wishing you many fascinating experiences and connections that light your soul and widen your window of awareness and possibility.



2 responses to “Cultural Exchange Doesn’t Have to Involve Traveling Abroad – 1/12/23”

  1. Stephen Avatar

    Many years ago I was in London on holiday during Ramadan. I was visiting my Irish cousin, who is married to an Algerian. I joined them every night for the post-fast dinner after sundown. There were always a bunch of people there, most were observing the Muslim law for Ramadan. It was quite an experience for an Irish Catholic dude from Maine.


    1. Wen Avatar

      This sounds wonderful! I find other cultures so much more readily share whatever they have, especially food, and it feels like quite the gift to be included in that. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: