Editor’s Note: We’ve asked Nicole Watts, Executive Director of Hopeprint, to write guest articles for us on a monthly basis. All of her posts are organized under the “Hopeprint” Category. You can learn about her organization and read more of her writing at hopeprint.org.
It was one of our first evenings together in the house on the Northside that we had come to make our home. The eclectic group of five of us sat at our dinner table ready to dive into this adventure we had decided to take on together. Top of mind for each of us was the question, “We’re here, now what?”
For the previous months, we had been guests in a number of homes around the Northside, being taught how to eat with our hands, tasting goat for the first time and experiencing the incredible hospitality extended to us. All along we kept wishing for a home to invite our new friends to, to get to know them, learn from them and have a mutual friendship. Now was our chance.
For next several months, our dinner table was filled with neighbors and friends from all around the world. Each meal was filled with lessons of culture, history and life that we drank up with excitement. Amidst the conversations, we continued to hear some resounding themes – (1) enjoyment of being invited into an American home to build mutual friendships and (2) having the opportunity and converse in the English they were learning during their classes throughout the week. After several meals with one neighbor, they told us, “We want more of this.”
At the same time, friends and neighbors of the Hopeprint Home residents were “peering in the windows” of our lives, longing to build similar friendships themselves. So, we opened our door on Tuesday evenings to invite both our refugee neighbors and American friends to meet over a meal and talk in English, building relationships along the way. The first Tuesday Evening gathered 7 refugee neighbors and 5 American volunteers. Months later, the Hopeprint Home was busting at the seams with 95 refugee neighbors and 25+ American friends, beautiful friendships that were impacting lives on both sides budding along the way.
In the past year, Tuesday Evenings have continued to be an anchor to our weekly lives, building bridges for mutual friendships as they continue to form. With programming offered for the children, we are able to invest in the younger members of our Hopeprint family through crafts, games, sewing, soccer and more. Thanks to the Refugee Assistance Program, Assumption Church and a friendly neighbor, we have been able to have additional space for those who gather. The Hopeprint Home continues to be alive with activity on Tuesday evenings, filled with a different adventure every week, conversing in English, eating home-cooked meals and building friendships that extend far beyond our four walls.