Gabriel: I’m from Norway… yes, I know I don’t look like it – I’m originally from Nigeria.
Kathryn: I’m from Northern Ireland … yes, I know I don’t sound like it – I actually come from Florida.
Tunyi: I’m from Vancouver, Canada … well, actually, I’m originally from India.
Lina: I’m from Glasgow … via some years in Prague and, before that, Lithuania.
And so it went on … listening in to conversations this past week between our students and supervisors from different parts of the world, I was struck by how many of them were born in one country, moved to live and study or work somewhere else and have travelled to study with us in yet another location. For our staff team at IBTS Centre, it’s the same. There are six of us working in Amsterdam: one from the Netherlands (although he lived in Eastern Europe for a few years); one from South Africa; one from England; one from Estonia (having worked for some years in Prague) and two of us from N. Ireland.
Providing lunches for such a diverse group is fun: some like ham, cheese and bread; others prefer spicy meats and hot food; some are looking for low fat yoghurt and salads… We work on a compromise and common denominator type of principle and mostly it works out ok. But such diversity is not all about problems – the advantages are many! Having got used to living in a strange/new country, people listen well to each other, they explain things that would be ‘obvious’ to those sharing a common culture and there is a lot of give and take in conversation and in theological discussions. Listening to the Lord’s Prayer (which we say together most mornings in our native language) is an amazing experience. We somehow find a rhythm so that we begin and end at the same time, even though some languages use a lot more words than others. Variety truly is the spice of life and we are blessed to experience so much of that in IBTS Centre.