By MARK GOODSON — When searching for a home eight years ago, my wife and I were most attracted by the neighborliness of the Hyattsville community. We met two neighbors while viewing our home; one had lived here for three decades, the other a lifetime. We were struck by the strength of the city’s diversity and duration. Our three most immediate neighbors were of Jordanian, African and El Salvadoran descent — exactly the kind of neighborhood we knew could teach our children to broaden their horizons and bridge cultural differences; something this proud American believes we do when we are at our finest.
My wife approached me about a summer foster care program for a Colombian child this year. It took me months to warm up to considering her proposal. What allowed me to finally say, “Yes. Let’s do this,” was that we are a part of a progressive, tolerant and supportive community. My sense of our strength was confirmed immediately. Our Spanish-speaking neighbors invited [our foster child] Diego to a birthday party. We ran into another Spanish-speaking neighbor on the next day’s bike ride who offered to help me shepherd the kids to the bike trail. Our Muslim neighbor dropped off clothing. The Eritrean church provided soccer goals in their communal backyard. The congregation of our home church, First Baptist Church, learned Spanish phrases of welcome. We ran into our Mexican-American neighbor on the Fourth of July — finally Diego had an audience for his “muchos chistes,” his many jokes.
I’m no activist. I’m only an active member of a community that embodies what we pledge will keep our country great: liberty for all. It just happens to be that same self-evident truth that eludes our modern imagination with its austere opinions and limiting ideologies.
Thank you for making me proud to be an American all over again.
Mark Goodson is a former editor with the Hyattsville Life & Times. He has blogged about his family’s fostering experience at www.markgoodson.com. Juan Diego and 11 other children spent the summer in the DMV through the nonprofit Kidsave, an organization that offers older children a chance to be adopted.