Good morning everyone, my name is Elizabeth Wickstrom. As some of you may know, I am from the United States (US). Many people think the US and Canada are very similar, but I can tell you from personal experience that there are many differences. As an example, we don’t wear runners; we wear tennis shoes. And what in the world are bunny hugs?
Most of my peers can account for that being from the US has given me a very unique perspective and a different way of thinking than lots of you here today. For instance, NFL football is clearly superior to the CFL. 3 downs? Are you kidding me?
More seriously, though, I notice that my frame of reference for historical events looks just a bit different. Major moments in world history look a lot different when you grow up in an American classroom compared to a Canadian classroom.
On a personal level, I am aware that an attitude of ‘just getting things done’ is more of an American characteristic and sometimes contrasts with a Canadian sense of ‘it’ll all be ok later.’
I’m also not used to people saying ‘sorry’ so dang much.
RJC is a very diverse place with lots of different people. Attending school here has taught me the importance of understanding, respecting, and accepting our differences and just appreciating people for who they are.
I’ve noticed that I am able to build friendships with people who hold views, values, and beliefs that are not the same as mine. Instead of being threatened by this difference, I have found a sense of being able to appreciate people for who they are and what they think. I’ve come to realize that there is a depth and complexity to difference. Underneath the surface often lie stories, experiences, and ideas that defy simple definitions and have both positive and negative aspects.
I see my experience here at RJC as closely aligning with Paul’s words in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galations 3:28).
RJC’s community is one that seeks to embody and inhabit the message Paul outlines – that there is room for everyone. We can all belong. The attitude towards sports at RJC is one that celebrates each person and gives room to test skills and try something new. Or what about music? Here we discover that everyone has a voice, and that in a choir you need sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses to fill out the rich harmony sound.
Ultimately, at RJC I have learned and experienced what it means to find a sense of place and belonging in the midst of diversity and difference. This has been an important reason why I have valued my time here at school.
I would like to end with a Bible verse. In this verse, Jesus takes the lessons that I have discussed one step further and encourages all who listen and hear to embody the value of belonging in their actions. Jesus says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Let it be so.
This reflection was written and delivered by Elizabeth Wickstrom at the 2022 Graduation Baccalaureate Worship Service at Rosthern Mennonite Church on June 26, 2022.