Welcomed as a Neighbor

Below Sarah, one of our US staff members, describes her interactions with some new friends during a recent gallery opening in the Middle East:

The second evening of the gallery opening event, a group of elementary school aged boys were playing in the road outside the door of the event space. They noticed me drawing with chalk on the road. None of them spoke to me, but a brave one came up to the box I held, and gestured asking if he could take a piece. I nodded yes, and shared chalk with the rest of the group.

I kept drawing, and invited them to join. They just held their pieces of chalk- either drawing on the road was so weird that they didn’t want to participate, or they were enjoying poking fun at me behind my back. Regardless, they kept observing and I kept drawing.

Several of them finally had the courage to introduce themselves and we had a broken, hilarious, gesture-filled conversation describing our lives.

After an hour, they were helping to explain to visitors what I was drawing, and ushering people inside the door of the gallery to look inside. During a particularly embarrassing exchange, an old man gruffly brushed off a conversation with me, one of the boys pulled me aside and shook his head saying, “not safe, he’s crazy.” Not only did these boys give me high fives and continually tell me that my scribbled flowers were “very beautiful”, but they were caught up in the excitement of the event and helped me invite people inside. They treated me with the kindness of new neighbor.