Before I went to seminary, I lived in Lincoln for a few years. I had just gotten back from the Peace Corps, and I was trying to readjust to life back in the US. Because of my experience teaching English as a foreign language, I quickly got a job with an organization called Lincoln Literacy. At Lincoln Lit, we worked with refugees and asylum-seekers and other immigrants – with and without documents – we taught them English and helped them find jobs and adjust to their new life in the US. I loved working there. Almost everyone I worked with – students and staff alike – seemed to feel in some way like fish out of water, just like I did.
We had students from all over the world: from Mexico and Guatemala and Venezuela, from Iraq and Afghanistan, from Bosnia, Sudan, Congo, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, all over. In our classes, you would see people of every color, people dressed in hijabs and blue jeans and saris and intricately woven fabric. During one particularly hot summer, one of my colleagues even showed up to work a few times wearing his wife’s skirts to keep cool – and no one so much as batted an eye. Everyone belonged, just as they were.