By: Becky A., Director, Christel House
My first real job out of college was at RCI. I started as a vacation guide 22 years ago. As a small town girl from the middle of Indiana, working for RCI opened my eyes to different people and cultures and created a broader view of the world for me. I learned to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity. After all, isn’t that part of the magic of traveling to a new place?
In my role at Christel House, I love working with RCI and all of the timeshare companies that support our efforts. But, my favorite thing is spending time with our kids. I personally know most of the young people you’re hearing from this week on the blog. Some of them have been to the U.S. to attend a summer leadership camp and have stayed at my house on numerous occasions. They are part of my extended family and like all families, we have special traditions, including an annual Thanksgiving feast. Only, our feast takes place in August at the end of camp and green bean casserole is nowhere on the menu.
We give thanks the Christel House way, with Indian flat bread, guacamole, curry, tacos and other “family” favorites from the across the globe. The kids each pick a food from their home country that they would like to share with their Christel House “cousins”. That’s what they call each other – they may be from different countries, but to them, Christel House is home and we are all family.
The kids do all of the cooking. My job is to make sure no one cuts themselves or burns the house down – they aren’t used to sharp knives or cooking on a stove that has more than one heat setting. The end result is a humble meal made from the most basic of ingredients. Yet to me, it is far better than a gourmet meal in any five star restaurant. It isn’t just about the food.
Just like with lots of families, some of the best conversations take place around my kitchen table. The kids take so much pride in sharing their unique customs and traditions with each other. It is something we all have, regardless of whether we are rich or poor. They also love to find the common threads that run through all of our cultures. That’s what happens when people of different backgrounds come together through travel or over a shared meal; it breaks down barriers and promotes mutual understanding and respect. And, that is the magic of what happens in my kitchen each August.
A photo of me and the “cousins” cooking our Thanksgiving dinner.