I witnessed a miracle…
In fact…I witnessed the same miracle…many times…over numerous years…among hundreds of people.
When I first saw the miracle…I could not believe what I was seeing!
My life experience before the Miracle had been that the people that I knew and interacted with…for the most part did not change from year to year.
During my formative years…I and my friends, pretty much stayed within our group…be it school…or church…or family…and did not think, often, of others that were not in our group.
When I began working at SIU, 39 years ago tomorrow…and also on a Tuesday, I soon became acquainted with my co-workers…of whom many were former coal miners and farmers and railroad workers and factory workers.
I, soon, was accepted as the ‘Lad’ in the group…and by and large treated nicely. For some time I was the youngest person in the department.
But, back to the Miracle…
I observed, the first evening that I worked on October 10th, 1978, that many of my fellow student custodial crew were international young people, and one was from Africa and one was from Asia and there was a Japanese staff member and a student from Turkey.
My Supervisor, Don, was a native Southern Illinoisan, and he liked all of his students and they liked him.
When I became a custodial crew supervisor…I had students from Nigeria and Mexico and Japan and Iran and Mexico and Malaysia.
They told me about their countries…and I had an education that I never dreamed that I would be exposed to.
Time after time…I marveled at the acceptance and love and caring that my full time staff exhibited for their international students and their African American students.
Our Housekeeping organization was large.
We had over 30 Custodial Crews with over two hundred students on our staff.
Invariably…the full time staff of former coal miners and farmers and railroad workers and factory workers…took their international students and their African American student staff…under their wings.
Many of the Crew Leaders brought their students food nightly and they invited them to their homes for holidays and they cared for them and they loved them and race and religion and country of origin…had no relevance or barrier.
Everyone loves Michael Jordan and Ernie Banks and Beyonce and often…former President Barrack Obama.
My friend, Gerald, worked in the Parts Department of a local car dealership…before he came to SIU.
Gerald, began the Thanksgiving Dinner for our student custodial staff…and he loved the students and he rejoiced in their obvious happiness…at the feast!
We were one family in Building Services.
We knew each other…our happy times and our struggles…and our shared humanity…and we cared for each other…and we loved each other.
Working together and breaking bread together and learning about each other and caring about each other…creates understanding….and family.