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Welcoming the stranger

Posted: March 13, 2014

Boston College Professor John McDargh speaking at Golda

JCHE buildings welcome people from all over the world. Walk down the corridors of Golda Meir House in Newton and you can hear English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Russian and Korean. It can be challenging for a newcomer to step into an established community. Residents at Golda are focusing on ways to help bring the community together.

"Welcoming the Stranger" was the theme of a Golda University session that was recently led by Boston College Professor of Religion John McDargh. Drawing from passages in the Torah, Prof. McDargh invited participants to share stories about situations when they were "the stranger." The discussion resonated for many. After all, everyone who has ever moved to Golda knows first-hand how it feels to enter a new community.

Some English-speaking Golda residents are working hard to truly welcome their Russian-speaking neighbors. Anastasia Shulgina, Golda's maintenance dispatcher, offers a Russian language class -- and the response from residents has been wonderful. Participants learn new phrases each week and are encouraged to try them out when they see neighbors in the dining room or at the mailboxes. Edith Gillette is delighted that she is bridging the language gap. By the smiles she receives from Russian-speakers, she knows that she is learning to pronounce the words correctly and her efforts are greatly appreciated.

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