Last weekend, our younger boy attended a birthday party of a friend from his spring hockey team, which he played on last year. This was 6 months after spring hockey ended and the team came together again at this boy’s house in a neighbouring town to us. A majority of the kids on this team played together during the regular season at a different minor hockey association. Owen made 11 new friends when he became a part of this spring team. Now, when the teams play against each other during the regular season, it turns into friendly competition. Kids came together from different geographical locations and formed a bond and a unity.
I was never a team sport kinda kid growing up, but when I applied to be selected for a Rotary exchange, I expected to ‘just’ live in another country, learn a new language and get to know different families by living with them. What I didn’t understand or expect was that all of the exchange students who were staying in the Netherlands for that year would all get together fairly regularly.
There were 27 of us (if I remember correctly), from all around the globe. Not long after arrival in the country, all of us went to a small town, north of Amsterdam to attend a Dutch language course for the week. They paired us up to stay with hosts in this town while attending this course.
We got together multiple times during the year for weekend retreats to certain parts of the country to take part in different cultural activities as a group – walking in the mudflats in the North of the country, biking what felt like a hundred kilometers one weekend to a tour of a cheese factory, a sailboat trip in the Ijsselmeer and then a three week bus tour through Europe together at the end of our year.
These kids from all over the world and I share a unity. Some of us have found each other on Facebook since (it wasn’t a thing when we were together) and some of us have visited each other since.
I know if I say ‘Hoi, hoe gaat het? Goed, en met jou?’ in that sing-songy rhyme that we learned to say this in when we were learning the language, it would put an instant smile on their face.
Through our ‘Europa’ bus tour, the only movie we had on the tour bus was Armageddon. It was probably played more than a hundred times. I haven’t watched it since as it weirdly feels like it was ‘our movie.’ We had a songbook of different popular songs printed and I have never sang so much in my life, we may as well have been a travelling signing group. I still have that book.
Unity happens when people come together for a common interest or experience. A bond can be formed that transcends time and space. Although I never expected this unity to happen before I went into that experience, I will never forget these friends.
When looking at the word unity in the dictionary one of the descriptions says ‘absence of diversity.’ Although people are very diverse, when people come together, I like to think not that they lose their individuality, but that they support each other. They can grow to understand each other, pick each other up, cheer for each other. Thus creating ‘harmony’, another description of the word unity.
and so, here is to unity.