14 November 2018 by Stephanie Henwood
The more time I spend with those of an eastern origin the more I realise how much we all have in common.
So, we have different faiths, different beliefs and a different history. Yes, we have different skin and speak different words. Yet we are all so very human and ordinary.
All wanting the same things in life; simple love and happiness. For people to be kind to one another. To have fun.
There was once a time that I may have shied away from a conversation, admittedly at times thinking 'We look different we couldn't possibly make friends. They won’t understand'. For some, language is a barrier, for some even the colour of our skin. But for others, nothing stands in the way of gentle kindness and good deeds, and this is something I have noticed particularly about Eastern Culture; There appears to be a much more gentle and kind persona behind that first wall you are initially greeted with. I have never met anyone so polite as I have my Eastern neighbours.
I have my ever growing time with snowflake books to thank for my new found cultural wisdom. I no longer live in this cloudy belief that we can't be friends.
Regular events have found us mixing with such a broad spectrum of families. From Mandarin speaking English to Chinese speaking French. Seeing the genuine interest of one another's background between ethnic origins has been utterly inspiring but what I have been truly in awe of is the delight that Chinese children and their families have expressed at us unearthing some of the hidden treasures of their culture and sharing of those faiths and beliefs.
Having had their culture suppressed somewhat by modern Chinese government it is refreshing for them to be able to express themselves and learn of their motherland. We should all be allowed to feel proud of where we come from.
I have been involved in countless events with the snowflake team and our partnered museums, schools and libraries but the support felt by Blackwells famous bookstore in Oxford since day one has been second to none and we owe our Oxford success partly to them for investing such trust and belief in us.
Many of our events with Blackwells have brought new fans to snowflake while the tourist industry in Oxford City Centre brings us visitors from all over. Then with the regular Blackwell followers, local bookworms and our mutual fans on social media we always gain a healthy gathering. With snug, comfy seating areas and time between stories for a chat, we meet some fascinating families all with their own stories.
I now feel less 'alien’ when I walk through the city centre and I don't begrudge the crowds or wish away the tourists because I have learnt that we all have our own story and we are all entitled to tell it too.
Following my journey with the Snowflake Books team, I would encourage everyone to mix with people they perhaps fear may not understand them. You might learn something from them. It is never ok to stereotype, but our faith and background do reflect on us, and I have learnt that Chinese and Taiwanese people are devoted, loyal people with the most gentle of natures.
Be kind to one another, be polite. A simple smile says a thousand words, but a thousand more when you have no words.