I originally posted this in 2008, when my now college freshman son was just seven-years-old. Just reading it brings back the image…and the stress of getting a delightful, curious child anywhere! And reminders about intercultural appreciation are always good. And talk about greeting every new day as a gift!
Short Film: The Walk to the Car
Scene: Mom and Dillon take 100 foot walk from front door to garage door, the exact same walk they have taken over 1,700 times in the past 5 years. Dillon teaches mom lesson about intercultural communications.
FRONT DOOR OF HOME OUTSIDE ON PORCH MORNING
MOM pushes DILLON outside and turns to lock door behind them. Dillon pauses, runs down stairs to climb snow pile next to sidewalk, opposite direction from garage.
“Come on, Dillon, the school bell’s going to ring in 7 minutes.”
“Look how tall I am mommy!”
“That’s great, Dillon. Can we please walk to the car?”
Mom walks down driveway toward garage. Dillon jumps off snow mound and follows. He makes it about 15 feet before turning around, stops and stares up at neighbor’s drainpipe. Mom gets all the way to garage door, unlocks it, looks back to see that Dillon is no longer behind her. She opens garage, then turns to look at Dillon.
“Hurry up, Dillon, we’re late. Six minutes to bell. Come on, let’s go, get in the car.”
Dillon points up, mom follows finger to see bird nest cradled in the crook of the drainpipe.
“That’s wonderful, Dillon. I can’t wait to look at it with you when we have more time.”
Mom opens car door for Dillon. Dillon skips toward car, stopping again after only about 20 feet.
“Ooh, mommy, come here. What kind of foot prints are these? I think it’s a bunny.”
MOM exhales loudly, spontaneously combusts.
The Parallel to Intercultural Connection
As mentioned before, Dillon and mom have taken this same 100 foot walk at least 1,700 times in the past five years. Mom is positive she knows every inch of it. There is nothing new for her to see and learn. Dillon, on the other hand is receptive to, even expects to find something new. He arrives to this walk with no assumptions or pre-conceived ideas as to what he might find.
The parallel to intercultural communications is palpable. Think of the wonder and amazement we might find if we approached each person we met with an open mind to discovery. Who do you think you know well, and what can you ask them to learn something new? What assumptions, overt or unconscious, do you bring with you when you meet new people based on their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation? What happens when you open yourself up to the possibility of surprise?