I was reminded several times yesterday that I am living in a very cultural place. Back home, the majority of foreigners we see come from Mexico. The occasional other nationality doesnt usually raise an eyebrow as they tend to blend in. Here in Venice, blending is not always so easy.
In the morning as I attended my last church service here, we were honored with some guests from another church that the Reverend officiates. He was having the annual meeting of the church and invited members to attend our service in the morning and stay for the meeting. St. Georges in Venice could easily remind me of my church in Phoenix...nothing but white folk! So, what a great surprise and honor when about 10 Nigerian members of the Padova church showed up in their Sunday best and native costumes. They brought a life to the service that the often reserved English community cant repeat or muster.
Later in the day as I was showing some more people around Venice (it never ends!), the entire Jewish Orthodox Ghetto community walks by Rialto chanting and clapping. What a sight that was--not one you see everyday anywhere. I dont know the occasion but it was great to see them come out of the Ghetto (which doesnt happen much either), dressed in their black frocks with side ponytails and top hats! After crossing the Rialto Bridge, hanging out for a while (all the while singing and clapping), they turned around and went back the way they came!
And still later, we stopped in to visit a church (i.e. be a tourist) and I was surprised to find an entire congregation of Chinese folk having an afternoon service in english! There are many Chinese in the city as they are buying up stores like crazy but I wasnt aware that they had their own services here. And one doesnt really ever walk into a Catholic church in Venice and expect to see a Chinese congregation sitting in the pews.
What a nice reminder yesterday was of how cultures can co-exist even in the smallest of islands. America is often noted as a melting pot of the world, but in my little corner of it, we dont get much culture like that. It was a true breath of fresh air!