Atlanta, Georgia

Last week, I was in Atlanta, Georgia, for meetings. Every meeting was within the same hotel or walking distance from the hotel, so my experience was rather narrow. Yet, in travels, that's been consistent. One may not know the depth of the experience, until arrival. Honestly, depth also comes from ordinary places and ordinary moments. 

While at dinner one night, the southern fried chicken, gravy, and fixings was outstanding, but I was struck more with Richard, our waiter. He not only was exceptional in his service, he took time to connect with us and in doing so, earned himself a substantial tip (ok, it helped that a successful international attorney was in our dinner party). Richard loves people or fakes it as well as anyone I've seen. More than this: Richard serves people in a way that invites us all to consider our service.

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Illinois Countryside

I recall once a friend saying to me, "never forget where you came from". And I wonder, where is that for you? The fascinating part is that none of us, to my knowledge, gets to pick where we're from. In fact, we all start as part of someone else's home. Some couple united to give birth to us and we were suddenly a part of another person's home address.

Then, something rather amazing happens. We start to embrace or look for our own home. I truly believe that so much of our own journey in this life is trying to find that place or that person that makes us feel at home.

Because I have received mail in Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, England, and Hong Kong, I now feel adaptable and pretty flexible. I also feel like my home is rather confusing--at least in an emotional sense. For example, I know London, England, as a city better than I do Minneapolis, even though I grew up a six hour drive from Minnesota. Why? Because for a while, I actually lived in England. I may visit other cities, but truly seeking to make a life elsewhere means something.

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Champaign, Illinois

Currently, my office sits on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This public University is home to more international students than any other public institution in the U.S. Currently, we have nearly 10,300 from all over the world.

What is being brought to campus is ingenuity, creatviity, and expertise that will in turn go out worldwide. In other words, the Illinois footprint extends beyond the borders of its own state. Over 2000 students also leave the U.S. to study abroad. So, a constant exchange is going on. This sparks some fascinating conversations and has meant that we consistently learn to cross borders.

And to this end, let me ask you, what borders have you crossed today? From a spiritual perspective, many acknowledge that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are not the center of all things. From a diplomatic or community perspective, we are also not the center of all things. In each case, we must listen. We must learn. We must engage with that which is different from us.

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