Open Eyes (Written by: Grace Ingram)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grace (third from the right) with siblings
and cousin in Oslo, Norway
Grace (third from left) with family on M.S. Rotterdam
ship on the North Sea in Norway
I had always heard stories about where my family had grown up. I had even seen a few pictures, but I had never truly been able to experience the cultures and lifestyles of my parents and siblings.Before, anytime that Belgium and Norway had been mentioned, I formed my own images of what I had thought these places were like. Up until this summer, the only other culture I had a connection with was my native South African culture. What my parents and siblings had described as their homes and their cultures were just distant stories and times. Yet, something in me has changed this summer. I was able to, with the generosity of my grandparents and parents, see firsthand the schools, churches, homes, and local stores that were a part of my parents' and siblings' daily lives. In a way, it drew me closer to my family as I could now finally see where some of the great memories and stories had come from. I played on the same beach that my dad and his siblings had swam in during their junior high and high school years. I even saw the Bossi school where Caleb, Bethany, and Joel had to walk uphill both to and from school on a daily basis. This past trip also allowed me to recognize the hardships my family experienced. Hearing stories of communication gone wrong really hit me when we stumbled upon communication barriers while sight-seeing and traveling around. Speaking for the in-laws and second/third generations, we gained a deeper understanding for our parents and spouses in recognizing the difficult adjustments and changes to their lives post Stavanger. Most likely my sister, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law also feel as if having now visited Belgium they understand why sometimes my older siblings react as they do to certain things in American culture.This trip was definitely more than just a blast from the past. It was an opportunity to step out of the oblivion I had been in concerning my family's wide range of European cultures. And most of all, it was an amazing learning experience. It gave me open eyes.

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