The guests are students from foreign counties who are studying at Indiana University. Back in the mid-1960's my in-laws became involved with a group called Bloomington Worldwide Friendship.
According to the BWF website: BWF is an all volunteer, non-profit, community-based organization that provides friendship and services to international students studying at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
I can personally recall about 40 different students I have dined with because of my in-laws over the years. So my guesstimate is that they have hosted between 80 and 100 students since the mid-1960's.
The students I can recall have come from all over the world: Trinidad, Turkey, China, Korea, Germany, Japan, Bangladesh. They have been both males and females, undergrads and graduate students, fluent English speakers and not so fluent English speakers.
I have lots of stories I could share, but the best story I know having to do with a BWF student didn't even happen to me! For years, my in-laws would receive Christmas cards from a man named Joel. Unfortunately he did pass away a few years ago. When my in-laws hosted Joel he was a graduate student and my husband was either an infant or still in the womb. At one of the holiday dinners my in-laws were getting to know Joel and he them. My brothers-in-law would have been around the ages of 10 and 16. Through the conversations, my in-laws were bragging about their sons and said that their oldest played the drums in a local band. Coincidentally, Joel had a son over seas who was also in a band. Joel engaged in a conversation with my 16 year old BIL and asked if he ever heard of the band, The Rolling Stones? Mick Jagger was Joel's son! A True Story! I witnessed the Christmas cards over the years and read the bragging of Joel as he'd share his proud moments of his children and grandchildren.
Yesterday we had three students join us for our meal. For the first time, I thought this is how the Native Americans must have felt as they shared their knowledge of this lands food treasures with the first Pilgrim's. Our guests, all from China, were willing to taste the treats my MIL and I created. I think most of the recipes we served were rather common. Turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, rolls, gravy and pumpkin pie. Our less common recipes would be for our sweet potato and spinach casserole and our cranberry jello salad. To me all these dishes are very tasty. I enjoyed watching our guest reactions as they tried the different foods. My MIL and I do both regularly listen to National Public Radio. If you are a listener too, then you might have heard Susan Stamberg's recipe for Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish. I've heard this recipe for probably the last 10 years and each time I think, 'that sounds strange, but I should try it sometime.' This year my MIL was so inspired! It was interesting. If you try it, I'd try it on turkey...not by itself. My son described its taste as 'very garlicky strawberries.' One should note, there isn't any garlic or any strawberries in it!
Another thought I'd like to push today is that as we all are gathered with family and friends, I hope you will take a few minutes to really listen to one another. Tell stories, ask questions...share. Today has been declared as the first annual National Day of Listening. Check out the link. Make a promise to yourself to listen to a memory of someone you love by the end of the year. I know you won't be sorry you have taken this challenge.